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Looking for a new portable that works well in a car

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hello! I'm new to this forum and found you guys while I was looking for info on FLAC and 24bit music. I'm in the process of migrating from iTunes because I want to start using FLAC and even 24bit FLAC so I know I need to get out of the Apple ecosystem.

 

In my house I will probably be using my HTPC running XBMC to play my music through my HT receiver so I think I'm good there for now. I found an app that allows me to control my HTPC and play my music without needing to turn on the TV. I just need to finish cleaning up my library with MediaMonkey now. ;) What I would like help with is searching for a portable for my cars. Right now I still have a library of music with iTunes, but eventually in a couple of months I would like to start listen to all my music in my car. I have also noticed talk about Android devices used as portables which I might consider since I'm using an Iphone 4 in airplane mode right now.

 

I have noticed on the forums some people mentioning some portables are only good for headphone listening so this is why I bring up my question. Any help is appreciated.

 

Thanks

post #2 of 15
Welcome to the forum BORIStheBLADE. I wouldn't bother about 24 bit files. Have a read of gregorios 24bit vs 16bit, the myth exploded! on this site. If you created your library from CDs then you can convert them to FLAC or ALAC if you want to use Apple players. If however your music was purchased then that limits sound quality on higher grade players but should be fine for portable use (except 128kbps). As for playing music in a car this is an environment where 128kbps files will be ideal considering the sort of amplifiers and speakers in vehicles not to mention road/engine noise as well. Your iPhone 4 should be more than adequate for this task.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sefelt103 View Post

Welcome to the forum BORIStheBLADE. I wouldn't bother about 24 bit files. Have a read of gregorios 24bit vs 16bit, the myth exploded! on this site. If you created your library from CDs then you can convert them to FLAC or ALAC if you want to use Apple players. If however your music was purchased then that limits sound quality on higher grade players but should be fine for portable use (except 128kbps). As for playing music in a car this is an environment where 128kbps files will be ideal considering the sort of amplifiers and speakers in vehicles not to mention road/engine noise as well. Your iPhone 4 should be more than adequate for this task.

Thanks for pointing out that post. I read it and while there is a ton of interesting and useful information I still will be going with FLAC. I'd rather not convert to Apples ALAC because that my limit my future use and I don't want to keep converting my music in the future.

post #4 of 15
Converting to ALAC is a bit restricting although some devices do now support Apple's m4a format. There are apps for playing FLAC on Apple devices also. Make sure you keep a copy of your lossy compressed files for portable use. Although I am certain some people on this site would disagree, playing large lossless files on a portable media player in noisy environs with the limitations of IEMs wastes storage capacity and drains the battery more rapidly for little benefit. The quality of the recording/source/IEMs make far more of a difference than whether the files is lossless or 320kbps mp3.
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sefelt103 View Post

Converting to ALAC is a bit restricting although some devices do now support Apple's m4a format. There are apps for playing FLAC on Apple devices also. Make sure you keep a copy of your lossy compressed files for portable use. Although I am certain some people on this site would disagree, playing large lossless files on a portable media player in noisy environs with the limitations of IEMs wastes storage capacity and drains the battery more rapidly for little benefit. The quality of the recording/source/IEMs make far more of a difference than whether the files is lossless or 320kbps mp3.

+1!

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Any suggestions for Portables?

post #7 of 15

What's the objection to an iPod?  ...especially a 5.5 gen.

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeDoe View Post
 

What's the objection to an iPod?  ...especially a 5.5 gen.


I mentioned it in my original post. I'd like to use FLAC, mostly CD rips for now. I'm not interested in Apples ALAC.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by BORIStheBLADE View Post


I mentioned it in my original post. I'd like to use FLAC, mostly CD rips for now. I'm not interested in Apples ALAC.

A Rockboxed iPod will play FLAC files.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by eric0531 View Post


A Rockboxed iPod will play FLAC files.

+1 

 

Also, if the iPod is not an option, pick up a Sansa Clip and Rockbox that bad boy!

post #11 of 15

How are you planning to get the music from your DAP to the deck in the car? One advantage an iPod would have is the relative plethora of line out docks for the old 30-pin connector. I have an old Classic that is my primary portable music device. I can use it standalone, or if I'm just sitting around I can use a line-out-dock into a CMOY amp running off an AC wall adapter. In my car I have Kensington line out/charger/remote combo thing that I've used for years and really like - the iPod and all of the cables can be tucked away in the center console, and I can play/pause/skip with the little postage-stamp sized remote that I have on my dash.

 

I ask because going from a headphone out into an aux in, in a noisy environment like a car, well IMO FLAC is way overkill in that case. Personally I use AAC files for my iPod, I encode at 300kbs and find it totally transparent at that bitrate. But if you use a line out dock, your car is well insulated for noise, and you have an exceptional car deck and speakers, then knock yourself out.

post #12 of 15
Quote:

Originally Posted by BORIStheBLADE View Post
 

Looking for a new portable that works well in a car

 

You'd be redefining "works well" in this case. Having a device sitting somewhere with a cable running towards the receiver on the dash that you have to pick up in order to see the display and manipulate the controls to get through the contents doesn't sound like it works well in my book. With a receiver specifically designed for a car I don't take my eyes off the road to hit a button, for example to switch from CD to AM so I'd know if the storm making driving tricky already made the government cancel classes (and therefore if I don't hear about it I'd be the idiot lecturer standing in an empty classroom). Even stock receivers with a USB input that can take Android are likely to be able to read plain storage, so what's another $50 for a 64gb thumbdrive? Or as my brother did, a $20 HDD enclosure and an older 500gb HDD he removed from his Mac when he got an SSD (not all have enough power to run this however).

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by BORIStheBLADE View Post

 

I have noticed on the forums some people mentioning some portables are only good for headphone listening so this is why I bring up my question. Any help is appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

Aside from the ergonomic issue I brought up above, there's the issue with car acoustics. You are sitting off to one side (whichever side your country drives in, unless you have a McLaren F1), ergo, the distance from your ears to the driver's side tweeter, driver's side midwoofer, passenger side tweeter, passenger side midwoofer, and subwoofer (assuming you can switch off the rear speakers) is already screwed up, compared to a home audio set-up where you can just find the "sweet spot" in the center (and you just adjust the speaker toe-in, or move your seat forward and back). The first casualty would be the imaging - the vocals are always offset to one side. If you adjust the balance which can be done on nearly every receiver on cars, the vocals can be moved to the center, but the instruments on the side you biased on will be louder also (it's like having an SR325 on one side and an HD650 on the other side). Other issues will be that if the tweeters aren't installed at the right angle for their dispersion pattern, too much of its sound can bounce off the windshield. What you think is sharp treble due to a louder tweeter therefore will not be cured by equalizer settings, since what sharpness you are hearing are just bouncing off the windshield, and applying too much EQ will affect other frequencies too.

Examples of how the tweeter and midrange drivers' dispersion patterns and asymmetrical distance can be dealt with vis a vis the windshield reflections and the driver's(primary listener's) seating position

 

 

This one's mine - Vifa TC25's paired with Focal Polyglass 165 drivers in the door mounts

 



Some processors or, as was the case, even receivers before, had processors that can run a "fully active" system. That system takes out the passive crossover splitting the sound between midwoofer and tweeter, applying customizable crossover settings (whether you use an amp or the receiver's, if the processor is built into it), but the most important part of such a set-up is that the processor can now apply a customized time-delay to each tweeter, midwoofer (or midrange and a separate woofer), and the subwoofer, as well as gain settings on each instead of just L-R balance. The Pioneer DEH-80PRS ha the best built-in processor for only $350 an you can use its own amp or get better amps and speakers, but of course if your receiver has GPS, you might be better off using what is called an "integration processor" that takes high level inputs (ie, speaker/amplified output; and some can use a sine wave to automatically correct the frequency response to as flat as possible) from the stock receiver and output a low-level (ie, line-level RCA) signal to an amp. Unless the problem is that all your music is in high-res that cannot work in 16-bit/44.1khz, no amount of fancy DAC and output stage design from a DAP that travels through a wire can overcome the fact that you are sitting at a location where the distance to each tweeter and midwoofer are unequal. It's tantamount to spending a too much money on a speaker set-up, including a fancy separate transport and DAC, and then putting it in the living room with a bunch of furniture in the way and one speaker is closer to a corner or wall than the other.

 

Then there's the need for Dynamat, at the very least in your doors. I did this last, installing a bunch of other stuff first, and all the amp did was make my speakers louder - nothing can change the fact that the speaker was mounted in such a way that the soundwaves towards the rear of the diaphragm was rattling the car door panel and then bouncing back in through holes on the inner frame the speakers are mounted on and causing cancellation. Completely sealing off one side from the other, reinforcing the wide door panel, and in some cases fully customizing the driver mount so it has nothing except maybe a proper grill in front of it (check the pics above) gets you closer to how a speaker cabinet works.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 12/25/13 at 8:36am
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eric0531 View Post
 

How are you planning to get the music from your DAP to the deck in the car? One advantage an iPod would have is the relative plethora of line out docks for the old 30-pin connector. I have an old Classic that is my primary portable music device. I can use it standalone, or if I'm just sitting around I can use a line-out-dock into a CMOY amp running off an AC wall adapter. In my car I have Kensington line out/charger/remote combo thing that I've used for years and really like - the iPod and all of the cables can be tucked away in the center console, and I can play/pause/skip with the little postage-stamp sized remote that I have on my dash.

 

I ask because going from a headphone out into an aux in, in a noisy environment like a car, well IMO FLAC is way overkill in that case. Personally I use AAC files for my iPod, I encode at 300kbs and find it totally transparent at that bitrate. But if you use a line out dock, your car is well insulated for noise, and you have an exceptional car deck and speakers, then knock yourself out.


Hook up wise I figured I can use the AUX in my car deck has. This is what I use for the Iphone. I understand FLAC is/could be overkill but keeping one library of music keeps it simple and the confusion down in my house.

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

You'd be redefining "works well" in this case. Having a device sitting somewhere with a cable running towards the receiver on the dash that you have to pick up in order to see the display and manipulate the controls to get through the contents doesn't sound like it works well in my book. With a receiver specifically designed for a car I don't take my eyes off the road to hit a button, for example to switch from CD to AM so I'd know if the storm making driving tricky already made the government cancel classes (and therefore if I don't hear about it I'd be the idiot lecturer standing in an empty classroom). Even stock receivers with a USB input that can take Android are likely to be able to read plain storage, so what's another $50 for a 64gb thumbdrive? Or as my brother did, a $20 HDD enclosure and an older 500gb HDD he removed from his Mac when he got an SSD (not all have enough power to run this however).

 

 

Aside from the ergonomic issue I brought up above, there's the issue with car acoustics. You are sitting off to one side (whichever side your country drives in, unless you have a McLaren F1), ergo, the distance from your ears to the driver's side tweeter, driver's side midwoofer, passenger side tweeter, passenger side midwoofer, and subwoofer (assuming you can switch off the rear speakers) is already screwed up, compared to a home audio set-up where you can just find the "sweet spot" in the center (and you just adjust the speaker toe-in, or move your seat forward and back). The first casualty would be the imaging - the vocals are always offset to one side. If you adjust the balance which can be done on nearly every receiver on cars, the vocals can be moved to the center, but the instruments on the side you biased on will be louder also (it's like having an SR325 on one side and an HD650 on the other side). Other issues will be that if the tweeters aren't installed at the right angle for their dispersion pattern, too much of its sound can bounce off the windshield. What you think is sharp treble due to a louder tweeter therefore will not be cured by equalizer settings, since what sharpness you are hearing are just bouncing off the windshield, and applying too much EQ will affect other frequencies too.

Examples of how the tweeter and midrange drivers' dispersion patterns and asymmetrical distance can be dealt with vis a vis the windshield reflections and the driver's(primary listener's) seating position

 

 

This one's mine - Vifa TC25's paired with Focal Polyglass 165 drivers in the door mounts

 



Some processors or, as was the case, even receivers before, had processors that can run a "fully active" system. That system takes out the passive crossover splitting the sound between midwoofer and tweeter, applying customizable crossover settings (whether you use an amp or the receiver's, if the processor is built into it), but the most important part of such a set-up is that the processor can now apply a customized time-delay to each tweeter, midwoofer (or midrange and a separate woofer), and the subwoofer, as well as gain settings on each instead of just L-R balance. The Pioneer DEH-80PRS ha the best built-in processor for only $350 an you can use its own amp or get better amps and speakers, but of course if your receiver has GPS, you might be better off using what is called an "integration processor" that takes high level inputs (ie, speaker/amplified output; and some can use a sine wave to automatically correct the frequency response to as flat as possible) from the stock receiver and output a low-level (ie, line-level RCA) signal to an amp. Unless the problem is that all your music is in high-res that cannot work in 16-bit/44.1khz, no amount of fancy DAC and output stage design from a DAP that travels through a wire can overcome the fact that you are sitting at a location where the distance to each tweeter and midwoofer are unequal. It's tantamount to spending a too much money on a speaker set-up, including a fancy separate transport and DAC, and then putting it in the living room with a bunch of furniture in the way and one speaker is closer to a corner or wall than the other.

 

Then there's the need for Dynamat, at the very least in your doors. I did this last, installing a bunch of other stuff first, and all the amp did was make my speakers louder - nothing can change the fact that the speaker was mounted in such a way that the soundwaves towards the rear of the diaphragm was rattling the car door panel and then bouncing back in through holes on the inner frame the speakers are mounted on and causing cancellation. Completely sealing off one side from the other, reinforcing the wide door panel, and in some cases fully customizing the driver mount so it has nothing except maybe a proper grill in front of it (check the pics above) gets you closer to how a speaker cabinet works.

I'm not disagreeing at all. I'm not worried about how I'm going to control the music. I have been using an AUX in for years. I can't replace the stock stereo on my car because it requires more work than I'm willing to do. The stereo is a part of the same circuit board as the HVAC controls and the deck is a zero deck amp. On my others cars I would do it but this car Im over.

 

Like I told Eric, I would rather have one library of music. It takes up less space and less confusion in my house. I know HD space is cheap know a days but its not an option right now.

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by BORIStheBLADE View Post
 

I'm not disagreeing at all. I'm not worried about how I'm going to control the music. I have been using an AUX in for years. I can't replace the stock stereo on my car because it requires more work than I'm willing to do. The stereo is a part of the same circuit board as the HVAC controls and the deck is a zero deck amp. On my others cars I would do it but this car Im over.

 

Like I told Eric, I would rather have one library of music. It takes up less space and less confusion in my house. I know HD space is cheap know a days but its not an option right now.

 

If it's totally for convenience in managing libraries it makes sense using the same DAP in the car, just don't expect it to sound "right" and of course don't manipulate the playlist while the vehicle is moving. It can definitely have better SQ than the stock receiver's CD player in terms of tonal qualities and even PRAT, but trust me when I say that some properly tuned systems using an integration processor with the factory NAV-equipped receiver can get it closer to a real nearfield stereo system at home.

BTW, regarding that integration processor, they were designed specifically so you don't have to replace stock receivers (which might have navigation, or to avoid warranty issues). Their inputs are designed to take the speaker amplified outputs from the stock receiver, some can apply EQ curves automatically using Audyssey or similar tech to set it to flat using a sine wave (taking into account not only the stock receiver's possibly non-flat response along with the speakers in that specific car) then you can tune it to your own tastes afterwards, but like I said most important is that it will allow for setting microsecond time delays on the speakers nearest to you. My old Pioneer DEH-860MP can set the time alignment and gain settings on each set of speakers right that I don't even touch the EQ. Best of all, depending on the dealer, this isn't likely to cause warranty issues - I've talked to some over here (Mazda, Honda, and Hyundai) and after explaining all this and the potential for using it as a show car and promote their product for free all they asked to let me keep the warranty is for their accessories department to lay down all wirings and basically install them as far as electronics installs are concerned. So basically their preference is they lay down the wires before the installation, tape them all up at the ends, then have my custom installer fabricate mounts for speakers, amps and the processor, then I go back to the dealer and they hook up everything.

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