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iPod effect: portability vs. sonic quality discussion

updated 11:35 am EDT, Mon May 3, 2004

AES on iPod effect

The Audio Engineering Society (AES) New York Section will discuss the , according to Stereophile Magazine. "The organization has announced what it terms a 'controversial and essential' industry forum on the relevance of 16-bit and high-resolution formats such as DVD-A and SACD in a market 'where consumers are flocking to the portability -- and significantly lower sonic quality--of digital media players such as Apple's iPod.' The event will take place on Wednesday, May 12, 6:30pm, at Tinker Auditorium at the French Institute-Alliance Francaise in New York at 55 East 59th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues)."




by MacNN Staff

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  1. David Esrati

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    death of high fi?

    This is long overdue.
    Between the big box stores plowing the hifi shops under- the rush to "home theater" systems- and then the mp3 "revolution" people are accepting dreck for sound quality and hurting the ears of people who know the difference-
    it's sad when FM radio has better fidelity than an mp3.
    I own an ipod - and love it for it's portability- but, honestly- if I want to listen to music seriously- the thing is a piece of junk compared to my Linn system.

  1. gunnar

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Agreed

    Both the hifi industry and the recording/movie industry have killed quality home audio. They pushed features and new formats so hard that consumers gave up on upgrading and instead concentrated on getting the cheapest c*** that would meet their most basic needs. I guess it's hard to stop China from flooding the market but the trend is not going to change now. People have bought c*** and don't know there's anything better so they'll be happy with c*** in the future. The iPod isn't a particularly good example either because the sound quality is pretty good, but all the other players and Best Buy equipment are prime examples.

  1. ipod21

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    just depends...

    just depends on what you're after. Most people can't tell the difference in sound between mp3, FM, and even CD quality music. Most also don't have the money to buy a sound system that would be able to accuratly reproduce the sound quality of an SACD That's the case with me, I bought my SACD home theatre system based on a the best quality for the money. What I'm more disappointed in is the number of artist/record companies producing music in SACD or DVD Audio formats. I'd much rather buy a hybrid CD/SACD of my favorite artist so I'd at least have the option of the higher quality.

  1. scottnichol

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    hifi alive and well

    i think this is such an non-issue and don't know why a bunch of audio professionals are wasting their time with this forum. the iPod (as well as the WalkMan and DiscMan) are all about convenience, not High Fidelity. i can't bring my McIntosh amps and studio monitors into work with me nor can i listen to that kit when i'm running at the park.

    the folks who don't want to sacrifice the quality will ultimately not buy 128K AAC files.

  1. Dalhectar

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Most people...

    also use Windows and a plurality watch reality TV. Mass acceptance does not equate good taste. I don't think SACD people have much to be worried about though, there's enough interest in hifi to keep it going, just as there's enough interest in Macs to keep it going in a PC world.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Deafer and Dumber

    This is an interesting argument.

    The majority of people don't even know what music is supposed to sound like. Fidelity is not the issue. Instant absorbtion is. Go to a typical pop concert (I use the term pop in the broadest sense, like the term classical) and what do you hear? A huge PA system. At best it's mid-fi, usually it's merely LOUD. The sound of real instruments moving air isn't even approached (or considered). So, what do they expect from the mass of tin-eared consumers?

    As far as digital music and players are concerned, they want it fast and cheap (preferably free). The majority of pop music is designed like fast food... instantly absorbed and quickly expelled.

    Portable players and mp3 DO introduce people to music they would NEVER have been exposed to if left to the recording and broadcast music business. Maybe, some will find their way beyond lo and mid-fi music systems (to Linn or Naim and beyond). There still is a market for minimally compressed music (CD, SACD, DVD-Audio), but as far as those formats are concerned, there needs to be a wider range of music available. And how many people will dump their current CDs for a higher fidelity recording of the same thing? Some. Hopefully many.

    It's something to think about.

  1. MDLarson

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Subject

    I guess I have low quality ears since my iPod sounds great to me.

  1. milkcrate

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    not irreconcilable

    The hifi audio industry needs to work with the iPod world, not lament it. The iPod is capable of playing wav, aiff and now the new Apple lossless codec. I use Grado SR-80 with my iPod and mostly Apple Lossless now, and the sonic experience is quite remarkable for a PORTABLE.

    Hopefully, Apple Lossless will take off with more discerning listeners. Manufacturers need to accept that a lot of people listen with their iTunes on their computer. Most will listen to mp3 and AAC, but a growing number are going to take advantage of Lossless (especially as harddrives become larger and cheaper). I would love to see hi-end audio companies address this by installing USB or Firewire inputs to their receivers. You can live in both worlds, and enjoy each for their strengths.

  1. milkcrate

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    about SACD and DVD-A

    I think downloadable music will win the battle with SACD etc, with the general populace. Downloadable music provides additional value to consumers through convenience. It is easy to pick a song and buy it and have it automatically playable on your hard drive or iPod.

    SACD and DVD-Audio, although they provide higher quality audio, don't offer anything above what a CD already offers. It is simply a CD with improved sound. It doesn't intrinsically change the experience of buying music, like downloadable music does.

    Average listeners are going to respond more to added value and convenience in obtaining music, more so than the added quality of that music.

  1. milkcrate

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    about SACD and DVD-A

    I think downloadable music will win the battle with SACD etc, with the general populace. Downloadable music provides additional value to consumers through convenience. It is easy to pick a song and buy it and have it automatically playable on your hard drive or iPod.

    SACD and DVD-Audio, although they provide higher quality audio, don't offer anything above what a CD already offers. It is simply a CD with improved sound. It doesn't intrinsically change the experience of buying music, like downloadable music does.

    Average listeners are going to respond more to added value and convenience in obtaining music, more so than the added quality of that music.

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