Sound quality on different iPod models
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: My first generation iPod still works, but is the sound going to be better on a new iPod? My daughter’s new iPod nano playing the identical song on identical speakers sounds a lot better. Why? Isn’t the music all ones and zeroes, so digitally it should be exactly the same?
A: You are correct that the music itself is stored as digital data and therefore is going to be technically identical on any iPod or other digital media player. However, even though the file may contain the same data, the hardware used to translate those ones and zeros into audio that you hear can vary dramatically. In other words, the data may be stored digitally, but we’re still hearing it in analog form, and it therefore to be translated back to the analog sound wave that we can hear.
Conceptually, this is the same as with any audio hardware: Better amplifiers, better speakers and better earphones will all result in improved sound quality. In the same manner, the chips used inside the iPod to decode those ones and zeroes and turn them into the analog sound that we hear differ in the quality of the sound reproduction, and of course as technology improves in general, so do the audio decoding chips used in the iPod. For the most part, newer iPods have newer technology used to decode the ones and zeros into the sounds that you hear, and the newer technology produces a different sound quality that is generally an improvement.
Our various iPod reviews discuss many of the quality differences between the various iPod models over the years, and in many cases there have been notable improvements even from one generation to the next. The improvement in audio processing hardware from the early first and second-generation iPods to the modern iPod nano and iPod classic would definitley be quite significant and noticeable, although since quality is subjective not every user will necessarily agree that the changes are an improvement.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Walgreens adds digital coupons to Apple Pay
- China orders Apple and others to monitor, report on app users
- South Korea regulators investigating Apple
- Apple Q3 earnings call set for July 26
- Apple’s UK tax bill under scrutiny
- Apple lays out ‘differential privacy’ plan for data collection
- Report: New iPhone’s space gray to be ‘much darker color’
- Incipio to acquire Skullcandy
- Apple confirms iOS 10 kernel was left open to improve performance
- Apple leaves iOS 10 kernel open to scrutiny
- Philips Hue White Ambience Starter Kit
- Naim Audio Mu-so Qb Speaker
- Phiaton BT 460 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Zagg Slim Book for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Element Case Ronin for iPhone 6/6s
- JBL Clip 2 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones
- Catalyst Case for iPad mini 4
- Jaybird Freedom Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Zagg Flex Arc Wireless Earbuds + Speakers
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app