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An audiophile phone?

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anm

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Are there any phones that one can term as audiophile grade? I see some portable mp3 players that can play all formats, and have optical digital outs (iRiver) - not sure about microsoft zune.

How about cell phones?


regards
 

marsilians

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mp3's don't make the 'audiophile grade' so there you have it!

Are there any phones that one can term as audiophile grade? I see some portable mp3 players that can play all formats, and have optical digital outs (iRiver) - not sure about microsoft zune.

How about cell phones?


regards
 

anm

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venkatcr

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Anm, your question is quite confusing. Are you asking for an 'audiophile' portable player or an audiophile cell phone? If you are talking abut portable players, Apple's iPod continues to rule the roost as the best player in the world. If you are looking at cell or mobile phones, there is no such thing as an audiophile grade mobile phone. The music playing capabilities of all phones other than the iPhone is severely questionable.

If you looking for a phone that doubles up as a music player, the only option may be the iPhone.

Cheers
 
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anm

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Question is - when portable music players can have features such as digital out, there should be phones too with similar features.

Thanks venkat for referring to iphone, it is certainly one of the music phones. Any other that you guys are aware of?
 

venkatcr

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Have you compared/ auditioned it with other phones like Sony walkman series or Nokia music phones?

I use the iPod regularly using either Apple Lossless or the 320kbps MP3. I have heard the same MP3 files using Nokia, and it is nowhere near the iPod.

I have not heard the new Sony Walkman models. Publication reviews say they are good, but I would like to hear them myself.

The only other portable player I really liked was the iAudio U3. A solid and heavy player, it rendered MP3 files with lots of gusto and clarity. Most of the successful companies seeming to be leaning towards PMPs to ward off competition from Apple.

Nothing seems to beat the iPOD in terms of usability, compatibility, and sound quality. The only issue for me with iPOd is that it does not play FLAC. Whether you use headphones or use an external amplifier, the iPod (the Classic in particular) delivers excellent sound. This is true as long as the files you play are ripped properly.

Cheers
 

venkatcr

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Rockbox lets you do that, but it voids warranty IIRC.

You could also convert FLAC to wave and then back to Apple Lossless. Or, just convert the files to Wave and change extension of the resulting file to .aiff, will work fine on the iPod.

Thanks Cranky. Not too much of an issue per se for me as I keep two copies of all songs - one in FLAC and the other as 320kbps MP3. I use the MP3 only when I am driving in my car. Else I play the FLAC directly from the PC. I am also toying with the idea of a Wadia iTransport vs Squeezebox. If Wadia wins, I have to follow your advise.

Cheers
 

moserw

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Depends...
I used to use the iPod a lot, then later on moved to mobiles particularly the Motorola E398 and ROKR E6. SQ is pretty good in the Motorolas and quite comparable to the iPod, what's more they have an active community base of modders who are into creating s/w, hacking/upgrading firmware and basically creating s/w to handle multiple AV formats. Never checked for FLAC, but the firmware hacks do let the mobiles handle most of the formats. Only thing for headphones plugged into your ears 96 kbps to 112 kbps is where it generally begins to peak out and basically anything above 128 kbps to 156 kbps it becomes indistinguishable and it does make more sense to go with a lower bitrate to accommodate more music. I have since moved away from using anything with headphones because of long term ear damage associated with them.

I have used Nokia too and they are fair for music, Sony Ericsson is right up there and Motorola too does a very good job, but still in terms of SQ the iPod was always the best. I have not heard the iPhone though I have used it for browsing etc. from a friend who owns it. I guess though that the iPhone would rank the best in terms of SQ based on its history of the iPod.
 

reignofchaos

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My SE P1i plays FLACs without any trouble. Long live core player :D. About digital output - don't think any phone supports that.
 

grubyhalo

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Depends...
I'm waiting for iAudio to release a flash memory audio player (like the i7) with basic GSM phone features. If that happens, ill throw my current phone away and live happily everafter. :D
 

anm

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cranky - you got it :)
I meant a phone that can be used with headphones, and can also work as as a good transport to hook up to the main music system.

regards

The inbuilt amp on my n85 is tolerable, actually, for very casual listening. The Nokia 5800/5300XM is touted as a 'music' phone and should offer some sembelance of listenable audio. Sony Walkman phones should also be usable as players on the go. When moving, ambient noise is so high that quality becomes quite a distant concern, as the 70+dB of the environment means a usable dynamic range of 6dB tops without busting your eardrums out. Which is why mobile audio just isn't my thing.

Of course, the term 'audiophile' can hardly be applied to phones - at best the quality from the gen 1 iPod (supposedly the best of the bunch) is/was barely acceptable, the hardware was horrible and only after the iMods was it usable as a transport/player.

The newer ones aren't worth listening to at all, IMO.
 

square_wave

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A mobile phone will never be designed to be used as audiophile grade equipment that can be connected to a music system or used as a transport. A mobile phone is a flimsy gadget not designed for hi-end sound reproduction. Specialized mobile audio reproduction gadgets like the i-pod are just okay in quality, so why expect a phone to do better ?
The marketing teams saw a great opportunity to sell phones as a multi purpose instrument and incorporated cameras and music / fm into it for casual use. They are horrible for audiophile grade music. They will always be horrible unless someone designs a phone as an add-on to some wadia transport :D
I would say you are expecting too much from a simple mobile phone :confused:
 

grubyhalo

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A mobile phone will never be designed to be used as audiophile grade equipment that can be connected to a music system or used as a transport. A mobile phone is a flimsy gadget not designed for hi-end sound reproduction. Specialized mobile audio reproduction gadgets like the i-pod are just okay in quality, so why expect a phone to do better ?
The marketing teams saw a great opportunity to sell phones as a multi purpose instrument and incorporated cameras and music / fm into it for casual use. They are horrible for audiophile grade music. They will always be horrible unless someone designs a phone as an add-on to some wadia transport :D
I would say you are expecting too much from a simple mobile phone :confused:

Well, not quite. If you look at the still-picture quality of the current crop of phones (>3.5 MPx), you would see that it would be comparable to that of the lower end digicams that were in the market about 3-5 years ago. I think it's a matter of time before we see phones that provide a reasonably good sound quality that could perhaps be connected to a home system without the sound quality causing one to wince. I can't imagine it not being worthwhile for any company to launch a product that would relieve the headache of carrying 2 devices with sufficient quality. Now, I don't think it would be a 'Wadia-killer', but my guess is that it would impress anyone looking for good sound quality and feature-set. The other possibility, though far more remote, is that a media player company with excellent products, like iAudio or i River, launch a player with excellent SQ with a decent communication feature-set.

Either way, if one such device is launched, I might even consider upgrading my 6-year old phone. :D
 

square_wave

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Well, not quite. If you look at the still-picture quality of the current crop of phones (>3.5 MPx), you would see that it would be comparable to that of the lower end digicams that were in the market about 3-5 years ago. I think it's a matter of time before we see phones that provide a reasonably good sound quality that could perhaps be connected to a home system without the sound quality causing one to wince. I can't imagine it not being worthwhile for any company to launch a product that would relieve the headache of carrying 2 devices with sufficient quality. Now, I don't think it would be a 'Wadia-killer', but my guess is that it would impress anyone looking for good sound quality and feature-set. The other possibility, though far more remote, is that a media player company with excellent products, like iAudio or i River, launch a player with excellent SQ with a decent communication feature-set.

Either way, if one such device is launched, I might even consider upgrading my 6-year old phone. :D

I think you did not read my post correctly. I said, they are horrible for audiophile grade sound. When you say that the still-picture quality of the current crop of phones (>3.5 MPx), you would see that it would be comparable to that of the lower end digicams that were in the market about 3-5 years ago, it also means that these phones are good for casual photography currently. But a serious photographer will not touch it with a ten foot pole right ?
If the use is casual with no regard to micro/macro details, resolution and dynamics, the phone can be connected to a playback system.
People who want audio quality will certainly have different devices.
1. A phone for talking to people.
2. A device designed for audio connected to their playback system as a source.
These are both different animals with no connection whatsoever.
Audio and photography on phones are value added features to improve its entertainment value and make it friendlier. These are not specialist features for the enthusiast. It will never be because there are engineering issues involved here related to power supply, space, cost of specialist parts etc
 
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Asit

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I tend to agree with square_wave here. I have a decent SE phone which can take quite decent still photos (Never tried the movie option) and can also play music. Now I have seen that the only times I have used it as a camera when we forgot our camera at home. And the only times (despite buying a reasonably expensive headphone only for the phone) I have used it as a music player is when I am waiting around in international airports for hours and the standing in security queue. I have also noticed that my son's ipod beats my SE (my son also has a SE, a lower model) in music playing narrowly, as he says. However, the point remains and it will stay that way I think that phones perhaps never will be of audiophile quality. Very similar situation is car audio.
 
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