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How to make iPod 80GB sound good with Lame?, Lame does'nt seem to work well.
von_Runkel
post Jun 28 2007, 09:15
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Hi,

I recently bought a 80 GB iPod (had to do some video encoding/testing at my job).
So far it seems like a nice piece of HW but I am not at all happy with the sound quality from my Lame encodings. I have even tried 320 Kb with Lame 3.97 and some music parts have annoying distorted output. I am using Sennheiser HD-25-1 which I am very happy with.

The clips sounds fine on my desktop computer, my laptop and even my Pocket PC!

Q1: Does anybody know what is going wrong? and

Q2: What codec is the 80 GB version optimized for? (Apple have not so much info)

Best thing would if I could keep Lame and maybe change some settings to suit the iPod better. I have heard problems with gapless playback unless you use iTunes as encoder (Which I don't use). But this is a minor problem as I wish to enjoy the full audio quality from the DAP.

Any suggestions are very welcome
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Nick E
post Jun 28 2007, 09:31
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I don't currently use that format, but LAME 3.97 MP3 files, even VBR, always worked fine on my 30GB iPod photo, I can't think things would be any different with a newer model.

Have you tried encoding to anything else? (You didn't say whether or not in your post.) If not, I'd try encoding to something else, e.g. AAC, and seeing whether you hear the same defects. Perhaps you'd get the same problems with another format, in which case you'd know it wasn't anything to do with whether 80GB iPods can play LAME, but was a problem with the unit.
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hawkeye_p
post Jun 28 2007, 09:36
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Well, the 30 Gig model certainly works better with LAME ;-)

I'd switch of the EQ and also the song specific gain and EQ in iTunes.

This post has been edited by hawkeye_p: Jun 28 2007, 09:37
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sketchy_c
post Jun 28 2007, 09:58
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QUOTE (Nick E @ Jun 28 2007, 09:31) *
Have you tried encoding to anything else? (You didn't say whether or not in your post.) If not, I'd try encoding to something else, e.g. AAC, and seeing whether you hear the same defects. Perhaps you'd get the same problems with another format, in which case you'd know it wasn't anything to do with whether 80GB iPods can play LAME, but was a problem with the unit.

What Nick said, and I'd test both iTunes and non-iTunes conversions (Nero AAC, for example). Another worthwhile test is to install Rockbox and play your LAME files there to verify if the problem is unit/hardware specific.
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von_Runkel
post Jun 28 2007, 10:06
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QUOTE (Nick E @ Jun 28 2007, 10:31) *
I don't currently use that format, but LAME 3.97 MP3 files, even VBR, always worked fine on my 30GB iPod photo, I can't think things would be any different with a newer model.

Have you tried encoding to anything else? (You didn't say whether or not in your post.) If not, I'd try encoding to something else, e.g. AAC, and seeing whether you hear the same defects. Perhaps you'd get the same problems with another format, in which case you'd know it wasn't anything to do with whether 80GB iPods can play LAME, but was a problem with the unit.

Most of the songs sound fine but strange thing happens when I play, for example "Supertram Greatest Hits".

No, I have not tried other codecs yet but ( dry.gif time is money) I,ll try Nero and Apples Lossless with these problem clips to find out what the machine is optimized for.

Thanks

von_Runkel


QUOTE (sketchy_c @ Jun 28 2007, 10:58) *
QUOTE (Nick E @ Jun 28 2007, 09:31) *

Have you tried encoding to anything else? (You didn't say whether or not in your post.) If not, I'd try encoding to something else, e.g. AAC, and seeing whether you hear the same defects. Perhaps you'd get the same problems with another format, in which case you'd know it wasn't anything to do with whether 80GB iPods can play LAME, but was a problem with the unit.

What Nick said, and I'd test both iTunes and non-iTunes conversions (Nero AAC, for example). Another worthwhile test is to install Rockbox and play your LAME files there to verify if the problem is unit/hardware specific.


I've read a lot about Rockbox and its features and am willing to try it. I know that they recently released a 80 GB version. Can I reverse it back to the original firmware ('cause I need the device to do test/research in the video domain).
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HeXeR
post Jun 28 2007, 10:20
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QUOTE (von_Runkel @ Jun 28 2007, 11:06) *
I've read a lot about Rockbox and its features and am willing to try it. I know that they recently released a 80 GB version. Can I reverse it back to the original firmware ('cause I need the device to do test/research in the video domain).

You can switch between Rockbox and the original firmware with the Rockbox bootloader. For more information on how to install etc. read the manual.
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von_Runkel
post Jun 28 2007, 10:53
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Thanks, HeXer,

I see the future bright, with ability to use my FLAC archive on the road... biggrin.gif
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HeXeR
post Jun 28 2007, 11:51
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QUOTE (von_Runkel @ Jun 28 2007, 11:53) *
Thanks, HeXer,

I see the future bright, with ability to use my FLAC archive on the road... biggrin.gif

With an 80GB iPod you can fit many FLACs, of course, but your battery won't last as long as with MP3. If you use a good encoder like LAME I doubt that you can distinguish the MP3 from the original, even more in a loud environment and/or not so high quality earbuds.
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von_Runkel
post Jun 28 2007, 12:30
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[/quote]
With an 80GB iPod you can fit many FLACs, of course, but your battery won't last as long as with MP3. If you use a good encoder like LAME I doubt that you can distinguish the MP3 from the original, even more in a loud environment and/or not so high quality earbuds.
[/quote]

As I always travel with "power online" (Laptop, PocketPC) so that is not an issue for me. But I will definitely upgrade to Rockbox. But prior to that, I shall do a test with Apple Lossless, and Nero to see if the problem is with the Apple decoding of Lame or if my device is malfuncioning.
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mixminus1
post Jun 28 2007, 17:26
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Have you tried a different set of headphones? According to Sennheiser's website, the HD 25 SP's have an 85 ohm impedance - that's a bit on the high side for portable players. I have a pair of Altec Lansing IM716's (which are based on the Etymotic ER-4S's) with an impedance of 100 ohms, and my nano starts distorting when driving them at even a moderate level. My Sony MDR-7506's, on the other hand, are rated at 24 ohms, and they sound excellent being driven by my nano - plenty of volume and incredible low end, even with very bass-heavy material like Kruder & Dorfmeister or Massive Attack.


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krabapple
post Jun 28 2007, 18:39
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QUOTE (von_Runkel @ Jun 28 2007, 04:15) *
Hi,

I recently bought a 80 GB iPod (had to do some video encoding/testing at my job).
So far it seems like a nice piece of HW but I am not at all happy with the sound quality from my Lame encodings. I have even tried 320 Kb with Lame 3.97 and some music parts have annoying distorted output. I am using Sennheiser HD-25-1 which I am very happy with.


LAME 3.97-encoded VBR MP3s sound fine on my 80 Gb iPod, using various headphones (inluding some nice Audio-Technicas). Are you sure all level boost/EQ settings are off?
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von_Runkel
post Jun 28 2007, 19:18
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QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Jun 28 2007, 18:26) *
Have you tried a different set of headphones? According to Sennheiser's website, the HD 25 SP's have an 85 ohm impedance - that's a bit on the high side for portable players. I have a pair of Altec Lansing IM716's (which are based on the Etymotic ER-4S's) with an impedance of 100 ohms, and my nano starts distorting when driving them at even a moderate level. My Sony MDR-7506's, on the other hand, are rated at 24 ohms, and they sound excellent being driven by my nano - plenty of volume and incredible low end, even with very bass-heavy material like Kruder & Dorfmeister or Massive Attack.


No I have not tried any other headphones (except for $10 garbage)

My Sennheiser HD 25-1 is 70 ohm, which is printed on the phones. But I get your point with matching impedances, I have to take a look at my old university literature to fully understand the problem. I still own an oscilloscope from "back in the days", perfect to do some research.

PS. about the Etymotic ER-4S: are you happy with the sound quality (driven from correct/matching source) ?
The Sony MDR-7506 sounds interesting, is it an expensive piece of hardware?

QUOTE (krabapple @ Jun 28 2007, 19:39) *
QUOTE (von_Runkel @ Jun 28 2007, 04:15) *

Hi,

I recently bought a 80 GB iPod (had to do some video encoding/testing at my job).
So far it seems like a nice piece of HW but I am not at all happy with the sound quality from my Lame encodings. I have even tried 320 Kb with Lame 3.97 and some music parts have annoying distorted output. I am using Sennheiser HD-25-1 which I am very happy with.


LAME 3.97-encoded VBR MP3s sound fine on my 80 Gb iPod, using various headphones (inluding some nice Audio-Technicas). Are you sure all level boost/EQ settings are off?


All level boost/EQ are off. I will use my ears and maybe I can provide some problem samples that we can compare.
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kornchild2002
post Jun 28 2007, 19:59
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The Sony's cost around $100 depending on where you purchase them. Here is a link to those headphones on Amazon's US website. Amazon also shows a "large diaphragm" model but it looks like it is the same thing as the model I linked. I have a pair of Sony MDR-D777LP headphones and I am very pleased with them, here is a link to that model. Sony tends to make some good quality home headphones. There are better manufacturers out there but Sony tends to fall within many peoples' price range while Senheizer and other similar brands tend to hit prices above $300 for the same type of designs.

I don't recommend these style of headphones for portable use though as they tend to use a little more power from the iPod's battery, the headphones are bigger than a iPod, and they aren't really built for travel purposes. You would be much better off with a in-ear, earbud, or smaller over-the-ear headphone design for portable use.
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mixminus1
post Jun 29 2007, 06:39
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QUOTE (von_Runkel @ Jun 28 2007, 11:18) *
PS. about the Etymotic ER-4S: are you happy with the sound quality (driven from correct/matching source) ?

I'm glad you asked... smile.gif

It's actually been several months since I really listened to the IM716's...when I got them, I was disappointed with how quiet they were with my nano, and since that's what I use for the majority of my music listening, I just put them on the shelf as a spare. Before I did, however, I plugged them into my Symetrix 304 headphone amp and listened to a couple tracks. It was immediately obvious that they were very good-sounding IEM's, but again, since they didn't work in my primary application, I didn't pay much attention to them.

Your question renewed my interest in them, and I decided to give them a more extended audition with the Symetrix amp...

Wow...

They are definitely among the most uncolored transducers I've ever heard. In fact, next to them my MDR-7506's don't sound nearly as good as they used to, at least on some material. It's been documented that the 7506's have a dip at 250 Hz, which can make some material sound a bit thin or bright, but next to the IM716's, they also seem to have a distinct rise (or perhaps a broad bump) in the upper-midrange and treble - sounds like vocal cord rasp come through just as clearly on both headphones, but they sound distinctly edgy through the 7506's, a characteristic that is completely absent through the IM716's. I would describe the IM716's as being just on the "polite" side of neutral - a very slightly bumped-up midbass and/or a very slightly recessed midrange. The detail and clarity is incredible, but nothing ever sounds harsh through them - this pretty much guarantees that you will never get fatigued listening to music through them, but they do seem to take the "bite" out of some recordings, particularly rock.

Overall, though, they have the least coloration(s) of any headphone I've ever heard - that they're ~US$100 is amazing (I'm guessing that the Etymotic ER-4S's - which are over twice the price - would be closer to true neutrality as opposed to "politeness"). For the money, and even for a lot more, I dare say there's nothing else that can touch them for accuracy, clarity, and smoothness. However, I'm still quite happy with my MDR-7506's - I find that my ears quickly adjust to them, and I will admit that I do like their "punchy" sound, particularly on anything with electric guitars...that they can easily achieve very "spirited" listening levels through my nano is definitely a bonus. wink.gif

One other thing about the IM716's if you're considering them...the posts that the flanged inserts slip over are significantly thicker than the ones on the ER-4's, and as such, if your ear canals are smaller than average (as mine are), the IM716's can quickly become very uncomfortable - I was always aware that there was something in my ears while I was listening, and when I removed them after about 10 minutes, my ears were sore. I've been using Sonic II flanged silicone rubber hearing protectors for years, so I'm very accustomed to having that type of thing in my ears for extended periods of time, and they have never bothered me. I've seen a few people mention on some other forums that the flanged inserts from a certain model of Shure IEM's will fit the IM716's and provide a slimmer profile. I've never paid attention to which model it is, but I may have to do some research now...

...and a second other thing: they're quite microphonic, i.e. you can easily hear a thump when you touch the wires, so either the wires need to be clipped to/routed through your shirt so they can't move, or you just need to sit very, very still. smile.gif

QUOTE
The Sony MDR-7506 sounds interesting, is it an expensive piece of hardware?

Kornchild handled that one... smile.gif


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probedb
post Jun 29 2007, 13:30
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Definitely give rockbox a go for this. It works fine on my nano (except for the crackling and half a missing screen because it's broke) and you can also use replaygain on rockbox, plus if you scrobble you can submit your tracks to last.fm biggrin.gif
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bilbo
post Jul 2 2007, 03:04
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The iPod plays .wav files. using them, you could test just the hardware. If this eliminates the problem, then it might be the encoding, but I doubt it.

This post has been edited by bilbo: Jul 2 2007, 03:04


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von_Runkel
post Aug 25 2007, 00:39
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[/quote]
What Nick said, and I'd test both iTunes and non-iTunes conversions (Nero AAC, for example). Another worthwhile test is to install Rockbox and play your LAME files there to verify if the problem is unit/hardware specific.
[/quote]

Problems solved, installed Rockbox and I am SO happy with it tongue.gif

No need to do further testing with the unit for now, Lame encodings now sound fine and thanks for all feedback. Still I think though that the quality of the audio electronics in the iPod are not as high as the price tag... But this is just my personal opinion wink.gif
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