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Topic: Sound Quality-Headphone Jack vs. Line Out

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Old 12-04-2007, 11:21 PM
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Sound Quality-Headphone Jack vs. Line Out

Why do they say, with regard to the ipod, that you get better sound out of a sound dock via line out vs. the headphone jack when all the high end $400 dollar headphones you can buy DO NOT connect to the ipod thru a dock - they connect to the headphone jack? It seems to me if the sound out of the headphone jack was inferior it would not be used at all or would not be used by high end equipment manufacturers.

Any thoughts?
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Old 12-05-2007, 12:43 AM
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The headphone jack is a standard size. Headphones using this plug can be used with just about any audio equipment from the cheapest mp3 player to audiophile home equipment. Wouldn't make a lot of sense to make a headphone that could only be used with an iPod through it's dock connector.

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Old 12-05-2007, 02:21 AM
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Well the original iPods (Video, Classic, 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G) all have their headphone jacks on the TOP of the unit..wouldn't be a very good idea to have docks to where you have to operate your iPod upside down...

The nano was the first to introduce the headphone jack at the bottom (which I don't like BTW)..had 3rd party developers decided to change to the headphone jack they would cut off compatibility for other models..thus they stuck with the USB port usage...at least thats my thinking on the subject.

3rd party developers used the bottom port instead so your iPod sits upright...Had the iPod started off with the headphone jack on the bottom of the unit you might have seen it used more..but its not a bright idea anyway since the iPod can control the volume through the headphone jack unlike the USB connector.

I don't think sound quality is any different from the two they are both running off the same hardware...only difference is the plugs and the fact the volume can be controlled via the touch wheel on the headphone jack.



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Old 12-05-2007, 09:48 AM
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As I understand it, the line out takes the raw signal directly from your track data to be processed by an amp. The headphone socket has had the signal processed through a pre-amp so it's not as 'clean' or 'pure'. I'm sure there are people who can give a better explaination though :-)
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Old 12-05-2007, 02:06 PM
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Yes line out is a direct feed vs an amped feed through the headphone jack...

When I use both, they are both grossly underpowered... By that I mean my sister has a line in in her Scion, and that uses the headphone jack... It's considerably lower volume than even the lowest radio station or CD...

When I'm in my truck, I use a AM/FM transmitter... USB port... Line out is a PITA because it's also very low volume...

As far as SQ goes, they're both good or bad depending on how you figure the SQ is regularly... I'm partial...
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Old 12-05-2007, 02:54 PM
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Your best bet for high-quality audio would be to find a self-powered headphone amp that plugs into the USB port. This would probably be pretty cumbersome, so I doubt that anyone makes such a thing.

Although I guess you could get a headphone amp and splice the wiring if you were determined enough.
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Old 12-05-2007, 08:47 PM
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The line out dock don't uses the Ipod's internal headphone amplifier. So you can use a high end external headphone amplifier that sounds a LOT better than the Ipod internal one. I use a line out dock connected to a high quality portable amp and a high end full size headphone. The results are incredible better (bass, mids, treble, bass deepness, instrument separation, soundstage, etc.) than just using the Ipod headphone jack. Keep in mind that lossless files (ALAC) sounds way better than crappy MP3 files on this setup ...



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Old 12-05-2007, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epaludo
The line out dock don't uses the Ipod's internal headphone amplifier. So you can use a high end external headphone amplifier that sounds a LOT better than the Ipod internal one. I use a line out dock connected to a high quality portable amp and a high end full size headphone. The results are incredible better (bass, mids, treble, bass deepness, instrument separation, soundstage, etc.) than just using the Ipod headphone jack. Keep in mind that lossless files (ALAC) sounds way better than crappy MP3 files on this setup ...
This is what I was just talking about in the post above yours?

Where did you get this thing? Buy it? Or made it yourself?

I'm interested in a similar setup.
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:41 PM
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So would the iPod Nano lanyards sound better than other iPod earbuds?



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Old 12-05-2007, 11:31 PM
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Quote:
So would the iPod Nano lanyards sound better than other iPod earbuds?
I think they are just using the headphone jack for the headphones, the dock port connection is just to connect the lanyard and hold on to the iPod.

The benefit of using the Line Level output off the dock connector is for the raw clean unamplified audio output at a steady voltage. This clean signal is usually connected to a Line Level input that is set to accept the same steady voltage, such as one found on the back of a stereo. You then have one amplifier, the stereo, amplifying the sound from the iPod.

The headphone jack takes that raw signal and amplifies it with a variable output. Since all amplifiers introduce some level of distortion, the iPods amplifier adds a little distortion. The higher the volume, the more distortion. You probably won't here it on the standard set of ear buds.

Now connect the headphone jack to the stereo's Line Input. You now have to crank up the iPods volume to 3/4 or more to get an acceptable volume level. This will increase the iPods internal amps distortion levels which are fed into the stereo's amp. As I have stated all amps introduce distortion on some level. So with the distortion added from the iPod's amp (which can get high since they are close to the iPods processors), the stereo's amp will add it's distortion and amplify the distortion from the iPod's amp.

Adding a headphone amp may lower the distortion from the iPods amp because now you can turn down the iPods volume. But, the headphone amp can introduce it's own distortion as well as amplifying the lower iPod distortion into the sound stream that can get amplified by a stereo's amp introducing even more distortion. Hope this makes sense.

Bottom line is, the more amplifiers you add into the setup, the more distortion that can be introduced. Playing with the volume levels on multiple amp setups can minimize the distortion. But using the fixed Line Level outputs off the dock connector, or any other stereo source, into one amp will always be the best connection.



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Old 01-03-2008, 01:40 PM
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Hey, hope somebody can help me. I've got a nice set of Shure E4 in-ear monitors which I plug into my Ipod's (4th generation click wheel) headphone jack. Unfortunately, the jack is broken as I only get sound from one speaker / earphone. It's not a problem with the
E4's as this happens with any earbuds or speakers I connect to it. I could send the Ipod out to be repaired but I'm wondering if there's such a thing as a adapter I could use to plug the earbuds into the line out connection at the bottom.
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Old 01-03-2008, 05:09 PM
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Ok, so you say that the dock connector is "unamplified" so why when you plug in the Apple FM reciever to iPod dock and plug in the headphones to the fm reciever you get sound and volume control?
Does the FM reciever have an amp in it, I dont think so.



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Old 01-03-2008, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supra9691
Hey, hope somebody can help me. I've got a nice set of Shure E4 in-ear monitors which I plug into my Ipod's (4th generation click wheel) headphone jack. Unfortunately, the jack is broken as I only get sound from one speaker / earphone. It's not a problem with the
E4's as this happens with any earbuds or speakers I connect to it. I could send the Ipod out to be repaired but I'm wondering if there's such a thing as a adapter I could use to plug the earbuds into the line out connection at the bottom.

Just buy a remote and use the dock connector. My Griffin iFM and my Roberts Robi DAB remote both have their own volume control on the remote. The griffin is only 25 and starts up instantly wheras the roberts DAB remote takes ten or so to boot up.
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Old 01-03-2008, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
I'm wondering if there's such a thing as a adapter I could use to plug the earbuds into the line out connection at the bottom.
Apple does some funky stuff on the dock connector. Using some Docks it will switch to a variable line level out put I believe, I'm not positive on the specifics here, but I doubt if it's usable with headphones. These Docks probably have a circuit in them that tells the iPod to switch to this mode but is still run through an amp.

There is a Dock connector adapter that will give you the constant line level output but this would not be usable with headphones. However a headphone amp may do something with it, but they are meant to amplify a headphone output.



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Old 01-04-2008, 12:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big angry
Where did you get this thing? Buy it? Or made it yourself?

I'm interested in a similar setup.
Bought most of my stuff. I've build some cables, but the ones i've bought are way better. I use an Ipod Classic 160GB or a Nano 2 gen. 8GB. My portable amp is a Ray Samuels Audio "M" Hornet. To connect the Ipod to the amp through a line out, i use the Audio Line Out Jumbo Cryo Dock. I use mainly two headphones with these setup, a AKG K701 and a Grado RS-1. These 2 headphones needs an 1/4" to 1/8" adaptor to fit the RSA "M" Hornet, so i use a Grado 1/4 to 1/8 adapter. This adapter is very well build, tough and the good part is that there's a few inch's of cable between the 1/4 female jack and 1/8 male connector, so it reduces the stress caused to the amp line in jack.

Just for the record, Flat Pads for the Grado RS-1 increases the bass significantly.

This setup covers pretty much all my music taste and i'm more than happy with it. Don't feel the need of an upgrade. At least for now ...



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Last edited by epaludo; 01-04-2008 at 12:38 AM.
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