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CD player vs iPod sound quality?

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
Which would have better sound quality,A CD player or an iPod that's playing 256kbps files? I figure CD player right? Even a relatively cheap one?

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post #2 of 53

What kind of CD player?  Portable, stereo, something else ?  And what era are we talking about?  

And doing what?  Driving amplified speakers or headphones?

Theres a hundred different answers depending on what you you're asking, but in general I would expect a cheap CD player to be about as good for a line out as an iPod, but much worse when driving headphones.  

post #3 of 53
Thread Starter 
I was thinking a stereo CD player. Hooked up to an amp driving something like the Sennheiser HD598 or AKG K701 well. Is this possible? Would something like this drive headphones like these better than just an iPod connected to an amp playing 256kbps files?
post #4 of 53
Thread Starter 
A CD player in the $200-$300 range that is.
post #5 of 53

If you're using an amp in either case, it'll just come down to the quality of the amp.  The digital bits in the CD player don't matter, and for 16 bit audio the analog part will be limited by what the amp can do generally.  

post #6 of 53
Thread Starter 
But what about the quality of the music files? Wouldn't a CD player play better quality files though? 320kbps compared to 256kbps Mp3's?
post #7 of 53
A CD player everytime, 256 is a quarter of the info a cd holds, well I can clearly hear the difference
post #8 of 53
Wait, what… Why is the discussion 256kbps MP3? You're certainly not limited to lossy MP3 or AAC, lossless is… the obvious choice. A lossless Redbook-spec file is, well, the same as the CD. And a 44.1/24 release (or higher — limited by the iPod's software at this point) is more information than a Redbook CD. Kind of a poor comparison… 
post #9 of 53
Thread Starter 
Sorry,let me try again. I am currently using an iPod and I am limited to only 256kbps AAC files downloaded from the iTunes Store. If I were to purchase a good CD Player and use CD's which are 320kbps files I would get better sound from the CD player,correct?
post #10 of 53
CDs are 1411.2kbps not 320. Yes, in general, the CD player would have better output.... If you use a cheep DVD or blue ray player, you'd even have a digital output you could hook to a DAC if you wanted.
Edited by GrindingThud - 1/21/14 at 1:27pm
post #11 of 53

The difference will be more about the mastering rather than the format (ie CD quality vs aac256).


Before you go much further, I strongly advise you to test yourself rather than rely on what everyone else tells you.  The software in the following link is all free (http://www.head-fi.org/t/655879/setting-up-an-abx-test-simple-guide-to-ripping-tagging-transcoding) and will allow you to set up a blind abx test which will let YOU know if YOU can tell the difference.


Take your favourite CD, rip it to lossless.  Take the lossless file and transcode a copy to aac256.  It's all explained in the link.


Personally I find aac256 to be completely transparent (ie I can't tell the difference from lossless - when comparing the same track / same mastering / same source file).  Most people I've talked to, who have openly and truthfully conducted the same tests are of the same opinion.


As far as CD player vs iPod goes - that depends on which player, and which model iPod, and whther you're using line-out etc.  Speaking from personal experience - my iPhone 4 has a very clean and neutral DAC section - and I have no issues using it as a source.  YMMV.

post #12 of 53
Thread Starter 
Thank you! I've just felt limited by my iPod and the very "thin" sound it gives me.
post #13 of 53
Thread Starter 
Oh I don't have a computer or else I'd just be using that instead...I use my mobile devices for pretty much everything. My iPod just sounds too thin and meh..
post #14 of 53

Again - what model iPod?

post #15 of 53
Thread Starter 
iPod touch 5th generation.
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