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Playing purchased AAC files into ND5

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October 22, 2012 7:04 PM

Chaps, I know this is old.......old news, but its one thing reading it on the Forum and another discovering it with ones own ears.

 

Just did a test with my wife's iPod connected to the usb on the ND5 playing AAC files @ 256kbs/44.1khz and they sound....piss poor! It really does show up when compared to ripped red book into wav.

 

Friends are going to get a real shock when they try to pollute my listening environment with their AAC's

 

Cheers.

 

Cheers,
Jason

Last edited by Jasonf October 22, 2012 7:28 PM
 
 
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October 22, 2012 11:13 PM

I have once (and only once) played someone's MP3s downloaded from Amazon through the big system, to be told "Your system doesn't sound right. I can hear it distorting. You should get it looked at" Twice this year I've been asked the same question from different iPod owners; "can you suggest a good quality separates system to play my iPod through?" I had another speaking along the lines of "I know about about HiFi, being an iPod user".

 

It's easy to be snotty but it comes back to the same principle as is often expressed on here. If you are happy with what you have and it allows you to enjoy your music you are in a lucky cohort and long may it continue. I can enjoy music on any old crappy source. The issue, which seems not uncommon, is migrating to a higher level only to discover that all that money you spent on downloads was wasted - if you want to move up. Sadly (or perhaps happily) you can't put back what wasn't there and a part of me says serves you right for being so thick. Like I said, it's easy to be snotty - but sometimes I feel provoked.

 
 
 
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October 23, 2012 3:51 PM

Originally Posted by Harry:

It's easy to be snotty but it comes back to the same principle as is often expressed on here. If you are happy with what you have and it allows you to enjoy your music you are in a lucky cohort and long may it continue. I can enjoy music on any old crappy source. The issue, which seems not uncommon, is migrating to a higher level only to discover that all that money you spent on downloads was wasted - if you want to move up. Sadly (or perhaps happily) you can't put back what wasn't there and a part of me says serves you right for being so thick. Like I said, it's easy to be snotty - but sometimes I feel provoked.


I'm new to Naim ownership, barely two weeks into my posession of a Nait XS integrated with all inputs being analogue wiring to the amplification from a CD player (non-Naim), MacBook (headphone jack to phono) and what would be regarded as an inferior component in the form of a budget Sony mp3 player.

Now that the new amp has started to mellow and sound a bit more full bodied, I got the impression that it can actually flatter or at least get the most out of lesser rated sources. AAC purchases played from my MacBook sound tuneful, spacey and energetic. I can admit that in some album replays of AAC I'd used different equalizer settings - Acoustic, Electronic and good ol' Rock is best, just to increase zingyness a bit.

Overall the finesse and sound clarity of mp3 and AAC is obviously lacking, in comparison to high resolution audio but I reckon some audiophiles will be mildly surprised at the attempt the Naim makes in getting the most out of inferior or lower rated formats and their electronics. Sometimes when I hear material recorded in high resolution and its playback on capable equipment, it doesn't guarantee more boogie factor or zeal, it can even be the opposite - overly refined sound becomes pedestrian. It's a bit like when CD versus vinyl was being debated. That's just my feeling as a general point, being more salt-of-the-earth type guy than most around these parts.

I could be a philistine here but my next intended purchase is a ND5 XS, even then I'd still buy AAC and keep any mp3 files whilst they remain a reasonable compromise for file storage capacity relative to musical replay.

 
 
 
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October 23, 2012 7:04 PM

Hi Disposable hero -

 

Like you I am a new boy to the Naim game, infact just 10 days old with a new UServe + ND5 + Nac 152 + Nap 155 all still warming up.

 

I never really got into mp3 players or I Tunes at all, I had an original walkman once for my cassettes when I was a student, then just went straight into cd's at home. This was mostly in London and so on public transport I read books or newspapers then I cycled everywhere until this day. I had on occasions thought that I should really get into iTunes as all my mates were downloading since 2000.

But I continued to buy cd's preferring, perhaps, to play them on my hifi system and did not entertain ITunes. Then I bought a Macbook about 1 and a half years ago and I still did not get into ITunes, I guess I just did not get the calling.

 

Anyway, the result of that was that I was/am still a little naive with all this stuff and only recently decided to research up on various audio files etc, when I became interested in streaming music. This does not exclude ITunes of course as many here will testify, but as I don't take my music with me, except in the car, my storing needs are more simple than many others and so just went for the most convenient audio storage and streaming solution (with great quality of course), which happens to be the Naim way with wav. 

 

But I would say that I 'erh' on the more relaxed side of all this, i.e. i don't think I take it too seriously. However, there certainly is a massive difference in SQ which to me was a kind of revelation and I know that many of my friends are still very sceptical about hi end audio and scoffed at me spending the kind of money I did. Some friends are just not interested and are quite happy to listen to their mp3's, but it would be really nice to show them how their music could sound and see the smiles on their faces. And I will start by suggesting they leave their polluting AAC's at home and come and listen to some real quality music with a glass of nice wine or Port.  

 

All with tongue firmly in the cheek of course.

 

Cheers.

 
Last edited by Jasonf October 23, 2012 7:19 PM
 
 
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October 25, 2012 10:02 AM

Excellent Jasonf, we both seem to be at the same stages of converting to streaming. I'm still more in to CD as well so my total album collection is three fifths CD and two fifths a mixture of AAC and mp3. Its good to browse in HMV (if you can still find one) and occasionally for just £3 you can find hidden gems or things that you remember from youth but never got around to buying back then, even cheaper than iTunes.

However I'm increasingly interested in an almost total transfer over to non-CD music collection, such as UServe and I may just hang on to a shoebox-amount of "essential CDs" for backup and prosperity. Maybe even a portable hard drive would be alright which could become a NAS or plug in to the ND5 via USB. I've been experimenting with Apple Lossless which could be a "compromise format" as well in terms of file size to SQ. Either way we are on an interesting journey  and with cloud-based music services emerging I wonder if even domestic physical music storage will soon be unnecessary.

 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 12:15 PM

Jason,

I know what you mean, when you said, the iPod sounded 'piss poor'. But this is really just the iPod and not necessarily the AAC material on it. I am definetively not an Apple fan, I actually despise them. But their downloads are of very good quality. If you were to listen to the same files through an NDS or any other digital source with a decent DAC behind it, you would have a hard time figuering out, which is lossless and which is AAC.

If someone whats to listen to his iPod on a 'big system' then this is very well possible in decent quality by means of one of the many docking stations available, which are Apple certified and extract the digital signal. The iPod internal DAC is then bypassed and the source of the 'piss poor' sound eliminated.

 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 12:23 PM

I've got various tracks downloaded from iTunes imy music collection - at 256K AAC they sound remarkably good. Not as good as the equivalent full fat red book standard but good enough for casual listening.

 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 1:22 PM

Originally Posted by PinkHamster:

       

         class="quotedText">
       

Jason,

I know what you mean, when you said, the iPod sounded 'piss poor'. But this is really just the iPod and not necessarily the AAC material on it. I am definetively not an Apple fan, I actually despise them. But their downloads are of very good quality. If you were to listen to the same files through an NDS or any other digital source with a decent DAC behind it, you would have a hard time figuering out, which is lossless and which is AAC.

If someone whats to listen to his iPod on a 'big system' then this is very well possible in decent quality by means of one of the many docking stations available, which are Apple certified and extract the digital signal. The iPod internal DAC is then bypassed and the source of the 'piss poor' sound eliminated.




Hi PinkHamster -

Thanks for that information. So in this case I should purchase a reasonably priced docking station and connect that to my ND5 via the usb and play AAC files from the I Pod and that should give me good SQ?

Cheers.
 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 1:43 PM

Originally Posted by Jasonf:

Hi PinkHamster -

Thanks for that information. So in this case I should purchase a reasonably priced docking station and connect that to my ND5 via the usb and play AAC files from the I Pod and that should give me good SQ?

Cheers.


I am not sure about the connectivity with USB on docking stations and the ND5. SPDIF or optical would seem more obvious. But in principle, yes. This should sound very reasonable and also miles better than direct analouge out from the iPod.

 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 2:03 PM

Okay, many thanks.
 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 2:35 PM

Originally Posted by PinkHamster:

Jason,

I know what you mean, when you said, the iPod sounded 'piss poor'. But this is really just the iPod and not necessarily the AAC material on it. I am definetively not an Apple fan, I actually despise them. But their downloads are of very good quality. If you were to listen to the same files through an NDS or any other digital source with a decent DAC behind it, you would have a hard time figuering out, which is lossless and which is AAC.

If someone whats to listen to his iPod on a 'big system' then this is very well possible in decent quality by means of one of the many docking stations available, which are Apple certified and extract the digital signal. The iPod internal DAC is then bypassed and the source of the 'piss poor' sound eliminated.

I respectfully disagree on both accounts. 

 

The ND5, as far as I can tell, does indeed bypass the dac on the iPod. No need for a different docking station -- the ND5XS is "Apple authenticated enabling digital output from iPod for ultimate quality iPod control."  This appears to be the same Apple authentication that high quality "docks" such as the Wadia employ.  The ND5 is similarly 'Apple certified' as the docks that bypass the dac on the iPod.

 

As to lossy vs lossless, I can absolutely hear the difference between lossy and lossless files when versions of each are on the same usb stick plugged into my uServe.  All variables eliminated other than the lossless vs lossy encoding. If the listener cannot -- great; it opens up more sources of digital content available online to them.  For me, it's a total non-starter.

 

 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 3:37 PM

CDs ripped to Apple lossless on a USB stick replay more detail and sound a bit less compressed than for the same material ripped to AAC/M4A
 
Originally Posted by PinkHamster:

I am definetively not an Apple fan, I actually despise them.


Why would you despise Apple? Aren't they just like any other product retailer, where you buy from them if the price is right, or go elsewhere if it isn't?

 

Not having a go at you or defending Apple, just curious as I'm not au fait with the latest "down with the system/fight the power" type trends.

 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 5:20 PM

Lol, you will find lovers and haters and all those I between on this Forum.

Just returned with my new fraim lite, in the process of assembly now, lets see........
 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 6:03 PM

Well, that's that project shelved for the evening. Just discovered that I have 4 shelves in cherry but 2 shelves are a much darker batch than the other 2 and they are def not ash.
 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 7:51 PM

I think I am with you on that one Bart (iPod, USB, AAC thing) . If being iPod compatible means what you say it means, I.e. bypasses the iPod controler then all is well on the good ship ND5 and I can sit back and revel in the fact that I don't need to purchase another piece of kit...not sure I was going to anyway .

Cheers.
 
 
 
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October 25, 2012 8:07 PM

Originally Posted by Jasonf:
I think I am with you on that one Bart (iPod, USB, AAC thing) . If being iPod compatible means what you say it means, I.e. bypasses the iPod controler then all is well on the good ship ND5 and I can sit back and revel in the fact that I don't need to purchase another piece of kit...not sure I was going to anyway .

Cheers.

Jason, I don't find the iPod dock too useful.  I really ONLY want to listen to lossless files on the hi fi, and don't populate my iPod with lossless -- typically just lossy files that I do not mind listening to in the car or on a plane or on a hotel radio when traveling.  But if there is something there you want to listen to, at least you can.

 

I do use it as a usb stick dock more often, however.  If a new cd is released and I want to listen to it immediately, I'm likely to throw it on a stick for a listen and put it on the network later.

 
 
 
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