With the latest focus on iPhones and iPads it’s easy to forget the iDevice that started it all … the iPod. While an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad do so much more than just iPod functionality, the iPod has become so entrenched with the music listening lifestyle of how we listen to music that it’s easy to overlook when Apple makes improvements.
So how does the new iPhone 4 and iPad stack up as iPods? In regards to sound quality, they sound so good I think it’s high time Apple added a fully customizable equalizer versus equalizer presets that are currently offered. I’m a bit of audiophile and I also like the convenience of the the MP4 format. My home theater gets audio from my Mac via an Airport Express so that my equalizer presets from my “tuned” iTunes get pushed though to the system. I “tuned” iTunes by playing the same song on my audiophile CD transport and iTunes at the same time and tweaked the equalizer in iTunes until the sound quality matched the CD transport. A-B tests verified perfect sound to my audiophile ears.
Oh, I bet the idea of MP4 versus CD strikes up the ire of many an audiophile out there, but seriously, don’t knock it to you actually try an A-B test… you’ll be surprised at the sound quality with all types of music genres, and you may find yourself rediscovering your music due to the convenience of having a music server.
Aside from when I’m on the road, or at a friend’s house, I never connect an iPod direct to my stereo as the sound quality is lacking compared to a “tuned” iTunes on a Mac. Why a Mac and not a PC? Macs have long been used in the audio industry, and, as such, the audio quality Macs can produce in software and hardware is usually a cut above all others.
The iPad and iPhone 4 sound really good when connected directly to a hi-fi. There’s a noticeable difference in sound quality from even the original iPhone with much more depth and transparency. The sound quality can be described as “near laptop” quality, which for me speaks volumes to the work Apple has done behind the scenes. Will it replace my connected Mac? No… and without a fully adjustable equalizer versus presets I can’t fully gauge how close a “tuned” iPhone or iPad would be to a “tuned” Mac.
My guess it that 95% of people would enjoy the immense sound quality coming out the new iPhone 4 and iPad when directly connected to their hi-fi.
Apple is Still Learning with the iPad.
You can tell Apple is still tinkering with iPod on iPad as it works soooo close to how iTunes works on a computer, yet you still need to go to the iTunes app to visit the music store, and iPod settings are still stuck in the general Settings app. Essentially, the iPad could be better suited to having a complete iTunes experience versus the ad-hoc, multi-App experience it requires now.
My thinking is if an iMac G3 333MHz from 1999 could handle a custom equalizer settings in OS X… so can the iPad and iPhone.
I don’t fault Apple much for this as they’re still trying to catchup with their own success, and I’m certain that the iPod on iPad will evolve as Steve Jobs likes to say, “We build stuff we like to use.” They’re obviously using the iPad and the iPod app just screams “improve me Steve!”
Turn Some Electrons into Musical Magic.
Give your iPads and iPhone 4 a listen over you hi-fi, home theaters, purist stereos, and you just might be surprised at what you get back. Granted, depending on your gear, your mileage may vary.