The introduction of iPad by Apple causes a “boom” in the tablet industry. Ever since the release of the first generation iPad, the way we work out our daily activities with technologies had completely changed. “iFans” are lining up outside Apple Stores to purchase the latest model of iPad. Not only do iPad gets plenty of sales, Apple’s other product line like the iPhone too gets a lot of sales. That being said, Apple holds the market very well. Rapid growth of these device sales affects how businessman/woman deals with their daily business transaction. It too changes how musician produce their own records and how kids use it to play their favorite games. There are many other ways to have fun with your iPad and one of my favorite way to enjoy it with my iPad 2 is listening to music! In this article, I will discuss how to get the best audio quality out of your iPad.
Apple iPad Quality
Interesting fact: Apple iPad is some of the best sounding tablet in the world. Not only do headphones affect the sound quality, but the type of file format and the source (the device where your headphone is connected to) too affect the overall audio quality. Apple actually did a pretty good job in terms of audio quality for iPad, iPhone & iPod Classic. Not all products have equally same excellent audio quality but recent Apple products from year 2011. Although it does not reach audiophile grade but majority of them chooses to use Apple products as their main music player (I will explain more on this later on). Here you can find out more about iPad’s audio quality (audio measurement in general) of some of the latest products and comparison with some other mobile company at the bottom of the page (The lower the output impedance, the better). If data alone is not enough to convince you, here are a few feedbacks from audiophiles who are happy with the audio quality of their iPad (screen shots from my research):
Surprising isn’t it? From a 9.7/7.9 inch tablet to a business equipment to music instrument to gaming console and can even be used as an audio equipment! All of the feedbacks above are from audiophiles (if not, semi-audiophile) at head-fi.org .
Why does audiophile choose to use iPad as their audio equipment?
So why does audiophiles choose to use iPad as one of their audio equipment? It all started with the introduction of the camera connection kit. Not only does it allow you to transfer photos to your iPad from the camera’s SD card/camera and manage it, it too allows you to bypass iPad’s internal DAC & amp with the USB ports of the camera connection kit! You can read more about it here. However, as you can see from the link, not all DAC & amp combo works with iPads but most of them work. With these special functions, audiophile/music lovers now can carry their favorite music on-the-go without having to sacrifice the quality of the music or having to pay premium price for a high-end music player (also known as DAP) that almost cost as much as a 64GB iPhone 5 and the only function is to play high quality music but does other features sluggishly. I happened to experience with one of the most popular high-end DAP and I find it not worthy although it has plenty of juice to run headphones with high impedance as it cost more than most headphones and most DAC & amp combo that cost much less did much better than it; if not the same. Do note that, the iPad camera connection trick only works with iPad and does not work with other iDevices. Don’t be upset if you are an iPhone or iPod user. With LOD (line out dock) cable that is specially made for iDevices with 30pin connector, you can bypass the iDevices internal amplifier NOT DAC to avoid double amping. Double amping will cause an increase in distortion throughout the entire frequency. At the same time, double amping will increase the output impedance of the external amplifier and cause the increase of the damping factor. Read more about DAC & amp here & here.
How to further improve your iPad audio quality?
The best way to improve audio quality is by upgrading your headphone. When I say upgrading the headphone, I do not necessary mean asking you to invest RM1000 or more on a pair of headphone, a RM100-RM300 price range headphone is good enough. Although RM300 for a headphone could be a little bit too much, but you will get what you pay for, and sometimes, you get more in return. Some of the good headphones I do recommend are:
Ultimate Ears UE4000
I had personally attempted to all of the above headphones and find them excellent for the given price. In fact, although they cost between RM100-RM300, they actually sound like a RM500 headphone; Superior! Specially Apple’s Earpods, if you could get a perfect fit, the audio quality is actually great overall (although it is no where near high-end but it’s the best stock earbuds I have ever experienced with).
Another way to improve audio quality is to use EQ (Equalizer). EQs are like magic. They will dramatically improve the audio quality with even a single dB boost will make a different. So far, the best EQ app for iDevices that I had discovered is Denon Club, which is a free app. You can manually tune the sound from 32Hz to 16Khz. Read more about Frequency Response.
Thank you for spending your precious time to read this article! I really appreciate it and I am looking forward to write more article about audio and iPad related products. I will surely give you a more detailed review on the Denon Club app, and some headphones that will pair well with iPad and other iDevices.
Do you have a wonderful headphones for the iPad to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below.