Originally Posted by helix139
Hey Guys, been lurking on the forum for a bit (first post!) and also S4 ownership (picked up my '13 estoril S4 a couple of weeks ago and it's been a love affair to say the least ;) )
Im a sound mixer by trade, so I have a fair bit of experience w/ high end A/D conversion, AKA DACs, lossy vs bit for bit compression schemes, and high end audio, although mostly in the context of studios. To say that the iPod's dac is 'fairly bad' is, I feel, misinformation, and in terms of a portable, consumer media player, I'd say it's actually 'quite good!'.
With all processing and EQ settings bypassed, I'd say that even a person with a highly trained ear would have difficulty reliably picking out the two sources in a blind study, in a completely treated space, in a quiet studio environment.. Now imagine what that would be like in a CAR with that sweet sweet engine note and wind and extremely high noise-floor AND un-ideal dimensions (the cabin of a car is about as far away as you can get from ideal listening acoustics) and you have a scenario thats so rediculious that it's not even worth thinking about.
When you get to the level of A/D conversion in an ipod, or high-ish end car stereo, the law of diminishing returns applies. You get to a 'plateau' in terms of quality that is just not going to change without $$$ specialized equipment, and even then the difference would be so miniscule that it's only worth doing in a professional environment.
The real bottleneck here is LOSSY COMPRESSION FORMATS aka mp3s and m4a's, and the higher end the listening environment is, the more you are going to hear the unpleasant artifacts of compression. I can hear stuff on my B&O that I couldnt hear on the standard stereo on my former A4. Certain music is more succeptable than others to it - i.e. most electronic music or hip hop, sample based stuff you probablly would not be able to tell the difference between a 192k MP3 or a 320k MP3 under most circumstances. Stuff like classic rock you can hear artifacts, even on a 320k mp3 - particularily in the high frequencies - ride cymbals, snare drums, etc. have a squelchy sound for lack of a better term.
My suggestion to you is to rip all your music in lossless formats (apple lossless preferably, as it retains all metadata, or FLAC) from this day forward (storage is so cheap people, 'do it nice or do it twice!') and completely forget about the A/D conversion specs on your ipod.. because its totally fine and it's not worth thinking about.
Here is my list of audio source quality from 'complete and utter shite' to 'very good'
Sattellite Radio - TERRIBLE lossy compression.. not even worth listening to
Bluetooth - Same.. pretty bad, but Im glad it's there
iPod - Very good *depending on the quality of your music files!!!*
SD/Jukebox - excellent but organization of music lacks a bit - also support for lossless formats? not sure...
Ok that was a mouthful.. :) carry on.