The convenience of using a computer or iPod as a music source is undeniable. It is why so many of us are compiling playlists for our music systems. Computers and iPods are now commonly used alongside conventional music sources such as CD’s, LP’s, and tuners. But what about sound quality? Computers and iPods used as music sources often sound compressed and lifeless – especially played through high quality systems. The road to impressive sound quality utilizing computers and iPods is a two-step process. First, make sure you are recording in a lossless format. If using iTunes, select Apple Lossless, AIFF or WAV in the “Import Settings” menu before recording (Edit -> Preferences -> Import Settings). The sound quality of recording from a CD to your computer will be dramatically superior to downloading music from iTunes. And secondly, select playback components that offer advanced digital to analog conversion. The following are examples of products that can help significantly improve the sound quality coming out of your computer or iPod.
The Cambridge Audio Dac Magic Digital to Analog Converter will upgrade the sound quality of your CD player, computer, wireless digital music player, or iPod in conjuction with the Wadia iPod dock. The Dac Magic offers two coaxial or optical inputs and a USB port. $429
The WADIA 170i Transport/iPod Dock is the first ever component specifically designed to transform your iPod into a high-resolution audio/video media server. The iTransport combines the convenience of personal audio with the performance and connectivity of your home audio/video system, delivering a bit-perfect digital audio signal. It is the first iPod dock to output the digital audio signal from an iPod. $299
The Zeppelin Air is the stereo speaker system your iPod has been waiting for. This new and improved iPod Dock/Player is made by Bowers & Wilkins and allows for wireless operation with the iPhone, iTouch, and iPad. The Zeppelin will fill a room with crisp, deep, lifelike stereo sound, and deliver a surprisingly greater level of musical detail from your iPod. $599
The Peachtree iDecco offers a high performance integrated amp, digital to analogue converter, and pure digital iPod dock all in one package. It uses a vacuum tube preamplifier stage and has enough power to drive most high quality speakers. $999