SQ Between A Portable Music Player And A CDP

Sizzers

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Jun 20, 2008
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I wasn’t too sure sure whether to post this in “Hi-Fi” or “MP3/MP4”, but somehow this seemed the safer bet!

If you were to take a decent portable music player, say £250-£300 and playing ALAC or WAV files for example (I have no preferences there), does anyone have any thoughts/opinions on how the SQ would compare with a similarly priced CDP playing CD’s through headphones?

Obviously the headphones are a critical component in each case, but has anyone done any actual comparisons? Not found too much info through google to help me out on this one so all comments appreciated.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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It is possible that you may find differences between a music player and a CD player, used independently from each other, but if both are connected to the same DAC or amp, then it is unlikely that you will hear differences.

If you can detect any at all, they are likely to be very subtle.
 

Sizzers

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Jun 20, 2008
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Overdose said:
It is possible that you may find differences between a music player and a CD player, used independently from each other, but if both are connected to the same DAC or amp, then it is unlikely that you will hear differences.

If you can detect any at all, they are likely to be very subtle.
Hi OD, and thanks for the reply.

Perhaps I should have been a little clearer. On the most basic level, listening through the headphone out on a CDP compared to listening through the headphone jack of a half decent portable player (portable DAC’s and headphone amps are for another time), are you able to say if there would be an appreciable drop in SQ?
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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That would depend a lot on the CD player and the reason I say this is that there will be more variables with the headphone out quality of CD players, which after all, can cost a whole lot more than a music player. In addition, a music player is primarily designed to be listened to via its headphone out socket.

I would imagine that portable music players are going to be much of a muchness. Have you anything to compare with?
 

Sizzers

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Jun 20, 2008
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I've ripped a good number of tracks using iTunes in MP3 at 320kbs for use on my Nokia 701.

Using a pair of £9-99 Sony earphones the sound is very good indeed IMO, and plugging in my Grado's the sound is very good to my ears - not true hi-fi quality, but eminently listenable all the same. I'm just trying to get an angle on how a top notch portable player with the "right" headphones using a lossless format might compare with a CDP/headphone combo.

I know that there are so many variables involved - and I'm not expecting "true" hi-fi on the move so to speak - but I'm just looking for a generalised opinion from someone who may have had some direct experience between the two. Thanks.
 

MajorFubar

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Mar 3, 2010
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It's an interesting question, but I doubt there's a definitive answer.
The h/p output of my elderly CD63 mkII KI is better than my iPhone, but equally I'd bet the SQ from my iPhone is better than the h/p output from some CDPs, because I really don't think much of the budget is spent on a player's h/p amplifier. Some CDPs don't even have a h/p output: owners are expected to use a dedicated h/p amp.
 

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