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I'd like to know if an iPod classic is a better investment than an iPod touch? I am really more into music than apps and games. If you have some other suggestions about great-sounding mp3 players I'd like to hear it.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

All current iPods support the same:

Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
Audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV

This is from the Apple iPod tech specs page.

So, since they all support the same bitrates and formats, the quality does not change between models.

Get whichever you want. The real sound quality difference will come from your speakers or headphones.

Note: If you want the best sound, use the Apple Lossless format.

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thank you very much... – user2419 Jan 11 '11 at 4:06
The frequency response and format supported aren't telling of the device's quality in audio output. You have to delve deeper (see Dietmar's answer). – user10355 Dec 31 '11 at 15:46

The 5th generation and earlier have the best sound because they use the Wolfson chips. (see this article for more info)

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Wolfson designs many different chips, so does Cirrus. I find it very wrong to simply say that one chip is better because it's from Wolfson. We need a more thorough analysis here. Still, this will be more difficult because the different iPods use different Wolfson chips and different Cirrus chips. Apple has moved to Cirrus chips for many of their products, I doubt that is just because they may be cheaper (which I don't know if that is the case). – gentmatt Nov 22 '12 at 17:41

I got an iPod Classic for Christmas to replace my aging iPod Mini (1st generation). The sound difference between the two is very obvious. I have a couple different sets of in-ear and over the ear headphones, all at least $100, that I used with the Mini, and with the Classic I'm hearing new stuff with every song.

I attribute this to faster CPUs and better algorithms but I haven't checked to see how different the CPUs are.

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I will probably also go with the classic, I like it the most... Thanks for help. – user2419 Jan 11 '11 at 4:07
No problem. I am really happy with mine. It's amazing technology. – Greg Jan 11 '11 at 4:33

Whoever will tell you the devices have the same sound output capabilities is certainly not an audiophile or is simply someone who needs an ears'check. I own an iPod Touch 2G, an iPod Nano 7th Gen, iPod Classic 5th Gen, iPhone 4S, iPhone 6s, iPad Air 2. The best, crisper, crystal clear sound, after testing all devices with the same FLAC album, same headphones and no equalizers enabled, the best audio quality comes out from the iPod Classic. Period.

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If you are not considering the speaker of the iPod Touch itself, the music is happening on a different device. The only considerations then are whether the player can handle the music you throw at it, considering sample rate, bit rate, and compression. Cheaper MP3 players, for example, could only handle 128 kbit/s, which wouldn't technically sound as good as 192 kbit/s. CD quality sound is 44.1 kHz and ~1,400 kbit/s. The MP3 is compressed, so the bit rate is obviously less.

The other consideration is whether your player's flash can be upgraded. The downside to this is having it run very slowly.

Another consideration is how you will use it, whether it will be jogging or setting in a cradle to a bigger sound system.

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Thank you. So as I understand, it does not matter which player I have as long as it can handle higher sound quality (192kbps and 320kbs). – user2419 Jan 10 '11 at 10:38
I am in no way an audiophile or have equipment that can manifest the differences, but when the original Shuffle came out, reviewers said that it offered the best audio quality of the whole iPod line, so I think the chips in the device do matter to some extent (although, yes, your speakers/headphones will have a bigger impact). – Thilo Jan 11 '11 at 1:59
Well, now I know I have to find some cool headphones;) – user2419 Jan 11 '11 at 4:08
I am a big fan of Sennheiser's headphones, both in-ear and over-the-ear. I used to sell high-end audio and they do a really good job with the design and construction. They have a neutral sound that I really like. I also have some of Bose's $100 in-ear, and prefer the Sennheisers over them too. – Greg Jan 11 '11 at 4:48
@Greg I bought the Bose AE2 once, but was so disappointed (it was a "random" purchase at that time) - I gave it to my father. Then I got some Sennheisers for ~$110 and they did sound more natural even though they were in a whole different price category. These were open headphones which had gold plated connectors and came with adapters and a little pocket. Both the audio quality and the overall package are a lot more attractive. – gentmatt Nov 22 '12 at 18:49

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