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PrintNameHere

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Your source is alot more important that the speakers you have. Whether it be an iPod or CD Player, it is always the number one component to a setup.

If your music sounds bad, encode it at a higher bitrate. In most cases, it isn't the speakers fault.
 

gglockner

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We're all entitled to an opinion. IMHO, I strongly disagree. Sure, bitrate is important, but it is hardly the only factor in great sound. There are a number of critical factors:

- Bitrate
- Integrity of the transfer (use error correction in iTunes or, better yet, Exact Audio Copy on the PC)
- Speakers
- Amplification
- Clean signal source path (i.e. never use the iPod headphone output to connect to external speakers or a stereo)

Put another way, I can encode as lossless and still get poor reproduction if I don't use error correction. (Maybe it's a function of my particular CD-ROM drive, but I was truly shocked by how awful ripping can sound without error correction). Conversely, a perfect track played via the included earbuds or $50 amplified speakers would also fall short of its potential.

In most cases, you get what you pay for. If you already have a great stereo or home theater system, it makes much more sense to spend a little bit on a line-out dock and cable than to spend more on some cheap speakers. Unless you are specifically looking for a way to bring music into the office / kitchen / etc.

I recommend spending some time doing A-B comparisons before purchasing any audio products. Test different rips. Test different bitrates. Borrow some speakers, or get them from a store with a generous return policy. Only when I did some randomized, blind A-B comparisons did I realize the huge difference (for my computer) between EAC and other ripping, and also the fact that 320kbps and lossless sound the same for me.

And before you say that I'm an idiot with a tin ear, please note that I have a degree in music and been playing violin in a professional symphony orchestra for the last 17 years. And my stereo is a prized possession worth more than my car (Not so surprising since my car is 11 years old with 130,000 miles... :D ).
 

PrintNameHere

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gglockner said:
We're all entitled to an opinion. IMHO, I strongly disagree. Sure, bitrate is important, but it is hardly the only factor in great sound. There are a number of critical factors:

- Bitrate
- Integrity of the transfer (use error correction in iTunes or, better yet, Exact Audio Copy on the PC)
- Speakers
- Amplification
- Clean signal source path (i.e. never use the iPod headphone output to connect to external speakers or a stereo)


Yeah, I know it is not only bitrate, I was only using it as an example. I do not understand how you can disagree with me at all? Would you rather have a crummy audio source and amazing speakers or an excellent audio source and crummy speakers? Most would go with the latter.


I recommend spending some time doing A-B comparisons before purchasing any audio products. Test different rips. Test different bitrates. Borrow some speakers, or get them from a store with a generous return policy. Only when I did some randomized, blind A-B comparisons did I realize the huge difference (for my computer) between EAC and other ripping, and also the fact that 320kbps and lossless sound the same for me.

And before you say that I'm an idiot with a tin ear, please note that I have a degree in music and been playing violin in a professional symphony orchestra for the last 17 years. And my stereo is a prized possession worth more than my car (Not so surprising since my car is 11 years old with 130,000 miles... :D ).
When you say A-B tests, I am hoping that you don't mean those pointless "listen to a few seconds from one source then listen to the same portion from another", because those are one of the biggest myths in the audio industry.
 

gglockner

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PrintNameHere said:
Would you rather have a crummy audio source and amazing speakers or an excellent audio source and crummy speakers?
You need it all. It's like a chair with one bad leg. Even if all other legs are perfect, the one bad leg is going to make the chair unstable. I encode as mp3 at 320kbps for critical listening and resample as AAC at 128kbps for portable listening. But 320kbps played over $100 iPod speakers still sounds like junk.

When you say A-B tests, I am hoping that you don't mean those pointless "listen to a few seconds from one source then listen to the same portion from another", because those are one of the biggest myths in the audio industry.
ABX testing is a scientific approach to audio testing. You may want to read http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=16295& or simply google for blind abx testing. Try it for yourself. I was surprised by the quality of the AAC codec. Yes I can tell a difference between 128kbps and 320kbps, but I have to listen carefully. The difference is subtle. If my son is yelling and playing, I cannot hear the difference. If I'm at the computer, in the car, or on an airplane, then it's not worth the trouble.

The cool thing about the iPod or iTunes is that you can do your own ABX test of codecs and bitrate: simply create a playlist with a (pseudo)random combination, and keep a tally. What I did was to copy a track 10 times at one bitrate and 10 at another. Shuffle to create a random order, then freeze the order so that it doesn't get randomized further. Play back the first 10 tracks. Record whether you think a track is A or B. Then go back to your playlist and see how many times you were right. Finally, compare with http://www.pcavtech.com/abx/abx_p9.htm to see if your accuracy was good enough to be due to your ears or just luck.
 
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AVService

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The output of any system will only be as good as the speakers.
I don't understand how you can not comprehend this?

Lousy speakers always gives lousy sound.
The source quality can be important also but certainly not any more than the speakers.

I install A/V systems every day at all price levels and I can assure you that even the cheesiest $29.00 Walmart DVD player sounds pretty good with good speakers.
The reverse is just not true.

I dont even really think this is a matter of opinion,just the simple fact that the speakers are all you ever hear.
 

PrintNameHere

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AVService said:
The output of any system will only be as good as the speakers.
I don't understand how you can not comprehend this?
I understand that completely. I am not saying that speakers do not matter at all, cause that obviously is not true.

Lousy speakers always gives lousy sound.
Yeah, obviously. Just as a lousy source will always give lousy sound.

The source quality can be important also but certainly not any more than the speakers.
It is more important. If you do not have a quality source, how on earth can you judge the speakers? The thing is that flaws found in speakers are 100 times more noticable than flaws found in a source.

Get a good source, then it is easy to judge which speakers work for you.

I install A/V systems every day at all price levels and I can assure you that even the cheesiest $29.00 Walmart DVD player sounds pretty good with good speakers.
The reverse is just not true.
Somehow, I doubt your judgement on what is considered "good".
Especially considering you say a 29.00$ DVD player can produce "good" sound with "good" speakers.

Many people think all cd players and all amplifiers all sound relatively the same, when that is just not true.

BTW, outta curiosity, what store do you work at?
 

mretzak

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OK, we're just running in circles here. The bottom line is, the sound quality that is output from the speakers will be equal to the lowest quality component/cable/speaker in the signal path.

Here's an example:

iPod -> Dock -> mini plug to stereo RCA cable -> AMP/Receiver -> Speaker cables -> Speakers

If any one of those elements is of poor quality the sound will be of poor quality. IMO, not one element of the signal path is more important than the other, as all lend to the quality of the final output.

With that said, I would prefer a good set of speakers and a good amp over an "audiophile" grade signal source. Why? Because even the cheapest sources (DVD, CD, etc.) have good enough quality for the average listener. There is a much larger, or at least more noticeable, difference when it comes to speaker and amp quality and the sound they can produce.
 
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