iPad – roots in audiophile, but is the force strong in this one?

The iPad is only one vowel from the mother of modern multimedia, the iPod. Tweets about iPad and music keep popping up, audio company executives keep pestering me to get one, and otherwise, I’m curious; there has to be something in the convenience of a device 4x the size of an iPod touch. Who knows, the iPad could be as dirty sounding as its nomenclature, but it could well be the next mono-speaker-toting-boombox! It’s Apple’s baby, so expect it to work with headsets and the best earphones/headphones out there, not to mention the rich boneyard of audio accessories such as line out docks and microphones. In 2005, Apple dog-eared a new page: they brought in gapless playback with the iPod 5G. Then, in 2007, they dropped DRM-crippled iTunes music, and in 2008, their iPod line went audiophile with excellent earphone performance reminiscent of the original iPod shuffle, but without all the hiss. No other company has come so far and done so much for portable audio quality while keeping their big mouths shut about all their achievements. Everyone else trumpets typical dross: advanced engine sound FFX13/dual DAC/340 decibels signal to noise ratio/Class A.

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So, how’s the iPad going to fair? That screen has me worried: it could channel static noise straight into the headphone output; it could fuzzy up the signal – but maybe it’s best not to worry. Sony’s Walkman series is much loved (I am a fan) by fans of warm, fuzzy sound signatures. It hisses brutally. So too does the uniquely controversial HiSound AMP3. Apple have been in the audio business (yes they have) longer than a lot of companies and they know what they are doing. The only gripe I have with the sound of Apple devices is the bloody broken EQ system which is a distorted mess. If/when that gets fixed, it is good night to the last advantages held against the system unless you get political with software and the community. If you are interested in such arguments, have it out at iSheep versus LemmingS.

I’ve got a long trip to Canada coming up in the next few months and depending on finances (and spirits), I may pick up an iPad. Of course, then Korean customs might deport me for not buying one at triple the price domestically.

Let’s out it here: Apple are the target for haters in the land of portable audio, especially in American and Europe where their iPod took off quite well. Among serious haters is a seriously unstudied group of clique-audiophiles, that sort who run into a crowd shouting the day’s buzzword and waiting in sanguine triumph for the cheers of the crowd.

This lame audiophile is waiting expectantly for realistic performance, for a steady music-playing engine, and for the cute accessories that audio companies are already scrambling to finish for launch.

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