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Latest iPad audio quality?, What is the quality of the latest iPad's audio output?
post Jan 11 2013, 12:25
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Can anyone tell me what is the quality of the latest iPad's audio output is like? Any good?

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post Jan 11 2013, 14:44
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QUOTE (Waywisher @ Jan 11 2013, 11:25) *
Can anyone tell me what is the quality of the latest iPad's audio output is like? Any good?

Apple are usually known for good stereo sound quality over the headphone jack and good RMAA measurements, though I have not personally experienced the latest iPad.
SQ from the iPad1 or iPad2's internal speaker is relatively good for a thin internal speaker - less tinny than many small devices and laptops, but is clearly lacking in bass and stereo width and obviously not especially loud and not HiFi, so for high quality, you're obviously going to want output to headphones or an external HiFi system or Home Theater system.

I can only speak personally for the iPad 1's headphone jack (my brother has an iPad 2 but I've not checked the sound quality) and its use when the headphone jack is used effectively as a line out to a clean, effect-free channel of a Bose Tonematch L1 live performance mixer & vocal effects system.

The iPad 1 has essentially transparent audio quality (playing ALAC) that is essentially indistinguishable to my ears from the 24-bit 48kHz digital output I send over USB cable direct from my laptop (which sees the Tonematch as an external USB soundcard)*. I've only recently used the USB feature, so I've listened only to mixed live performance played and sung along to iPad content with headphones, and only occasionally dones so, so far.

* {edit} - I should point out this is not an ABX blind test, but I've never noticed any appreciable difference between my laptop's analogue output, the iPad's analogue headphone jack or the digital transmission over USB to the Bose Tonematch's DAC so I can only offer this an unsupported opinion that is broadly in line with whatever RMAA tests I've noticed published online by other people.

My experience isn't quite as revealing as good headphone listening, but it backs up very good RMAA measurements I've seen for the iPad 1, iPod etc.

You do need to be happy to play it back fairly plain without DSP plugins (e.g. headphone crossfeed) in the sorts of ways that 'most people' play their music, as the apps will restrict you to the typical track repeat, playlist repeat and random (actually less than random, but perceived more random) modes that the majority of average Apple users want. This forces slightly awkward workarounds for special circumstances, such as one-track playlists or the purchase of alternative apps when you want to play single backing tracks then stop, though that's not uncommon in software apps or digital audio players.

But the default 'iPod' app does support:
  • gapless playback (ALAC, iTunes AAC, LAME MP3 or iTunes MP3 to my knowledge and presumably uncompressed AIFF also)
  • Soundcheck (nearly as useful as ReplayGain but solely track-based), which is good.

You're also restricted with audio formats supported and unless you jailbreak, you're somewhat beholden to whatever updates Apple give you with difficult or impossible 'downgrades' available if you don't like the update. You're likewise, basically tied to using iTunes to sync your music also, aside from difficult workarounds.

With the group I assist, this was a royal pain in the @!* when the Music app of iOS4 was replaced by the iPod app in iOS5, forcing modifications of the workaround we'd used to make the playlist-per-track names legible on stage. After some hours of work generating and attaching large-text album art for a hundred tracks or more, we now have better legibility than before, and we can put up with the occasional graphical update lag when swiping down our list of playlists (each with one of over 100 tracks on it).

You can search for RMAA tests or their equivalent on the latest iPad to verify decent performance and I'd be surprised if it deteriorated significantly.

You do have some options to stream audio to other devices or to control them and their own audio player remotely, shifting the sound quality issue to them while retaining portable iPad control.

This post has been edited by Dynamic: Jan 11 2013, 14:48

Dynamic the artist formerly known as DickD
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post Jan 11 2013, 19:06
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No need to jailbreak: there are hundredth of player apps in the Appstore, even for free, that let you play a lot of other formats than the ones supported out of the box, FLAC for example, use complex equalizer curves and other DSP effects and upload files directly on the device, via USB, Wi-Fi, cloud storage etc...

SQ is of course quite awful from internal speaker (@greynol: you can do something to it with an equalizer app, but actually not overcome physical laws... wink.gif), while headphone out is hiss free and has, according to many measures, very low output impedance (< 1 ohm). In my experience it can also drive my AKG K141 Monitor (600 ohm) to enjoyable listening levels.

... I live by long distance.
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