I've read many threads discussing the sound quality of one player over another and hesitated before buying the one that seemed best suited to my needs because of the negative remarks about it. Yes, the iPod mini. A week ago a chance to buy one at a great price came my way and I took the plunge.
I've been using iTunes to import the same CD tracks using AAC format at 128, 192, and 256kbps, and then Apple Lossless (ALAC). I wanted to find the highest compression that would give good sound quality.
What surprised me is that I can't tell them apart. This is using the iPod standard earphones which I know many contributors here consider to be fair at best. I've only tried a small set of tracks so far, but they include passages with very different volumes and depth.
I think I have at least as good hearing perception as most people. If that's true (grinning), are there tracks that clearly demonstrate the sort of SQ differences that are constantly debated in these posts?
The problem probably isn't with the songs or the ipod, it's with the headphones. When I was just using the mx300's that came with my iriver flash player a long time ago, I didn't understand why people cared about the bitrate (this was long before I came to headfi). 56kbps sounded the same as 192kb. However, as soon as I got new headphones, the difference became glaringly apparent. The ipod headphones are so midbass-y and unrevealing that you probably won't be able to tell (much) of a difference. If you were more discerning, you might be able to, but at this point you probably won't. You need better headphones. Then you will notice an enormous difference.