Fascinating. There's more to an 'mp3 player' than a hard drive.
The iPod shuffle's near-perfect rendering of the square wave means that it uses push-pull output instead of the single-ended, capacitor-coupled output found in just about every other player. You just can't get this kind of audio performance from a single-ended circuit. I find Apple's audiophile approach exciting on several different levels. You can hear the improvement; will Apple incorporate the same technology in future hard drive players? And technologically, it's fascinating. My inner geek wants answers to half a dozen questions, including how they're generating the negative power supply voltage and whether they've gone with a capacitorless design. I've asked Apple, but so far the company is mum.A Macintouch article claims the newer iPod Photos have sound quality substantially worse than the older iPods. I'm glad the audiophiles are starting to test these things out.
I believe I proved that my ears were right: Several other hard drive players edge out older Apple players, but the iPod shuffle does them all one better. I think I also proved conclusively that the iPod mini's output capacitors are woefully undersized, as some audiophiles have been saying since Apple introduced the device. I also found that the iPod mini has lots of harmonic distortion—everywhere but at the industry-standard 1-KHz measuring point.