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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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Those three little words that mean so much to me
headphones
kistaro
"OUT FOR DELIVERY", quoth UPS. They're a day ahead of schedule, too.

I've always wanted a pair of good earphones. Keeping my purchase rate of high-end nerd toys at a reasonable level is part of why I have a strictly controlled luxury budget...
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I considered a Shure e310, but reviews convinced me otherwise- the Shures are, by a wide margin, more popular, but the Ultimate Ears seem to be better on the balance of professional reviews, but very comparable in any case- except some $60 cheaper. I'm very happy with these so far, although they've highlighted the amusing fact that my Zune apparently has better audio than my desktop computer's front panel and its Asus Xonar DX.

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That which is most frustrating about the computer audio is its idea of "silence"; I can indeed hear every electrical signal causing any sort of induction on the unshielded AC'97 cable that, unfortunately, must go from one corner of the box to the other. I'm almost curious enough to crouch down behind my computer and listen on the ports attached to the card itself, temporarily unplugging my surround speakers, but given cable lengths that's hardly a long-term solution for a lot of reasons.

That said, the Zune really does have a good audio chipset; I bought it instead of an iPod for that reason.

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One of my co-workers had an iPod I listened to before I made my decision. His AAC Lossless version of Johnette Napolitano's "The Scientist" sounded significantly worse than my VBR ~192Kbps version of the same song on a Creative Zen Vision- which had similar sound to the Zune, but a much, much worse hard-drive-related hiss. (Its definition of "silent" is no better than that of my PC.)

That said, it was a recent iPod. The iPod has been provably degrading in sound quality since the fourth generation or so- every response graph is more erratic than the last.

It sounds like your iPod meets your needs. The only reason I gave up on my Zen Vision is because its 30GB was mighty cramped for my music library. I'm happy with my 80GB Zune and have no immediate plans to upgrade- not until I fill it, too. And before then, I'll need new PC hard drives, as well as new hard drives in at least two drive bays of my Windows Home Server to run the backups...

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Nothing to apologize for, it's still an interesting talking point!

Which is part of why I decided not to save up for the triple.fi 8s instead. (The other reason, of course, is the whole $500 OMGWTF part. $185 shipped is enough for now.) The sweeping majority of my collection is from eMusic, because I'm cheap: $319 every two years nets me 75 songs a month to keep forever, even if the service folds or, for some insane reason, I cancel. (This comes to around $0.22/download.) eMusic uses VBR MP3s at ~256Kbps for new releases, ~192Kbps for their back catalog. (They've upgraded recently as hard drive space and bandwidth get cheaper.) The upshot to this is that most of my music is subject to lossy compression with no prospects for a rerip. More earphones than this would hit the limits of the music files themselves, rather than the hardware limits of the earphones. My audio card and speakers are similar: they're not top-of-the-line, but they're as good as they need to be given the sources I have available.

I do have a few really low-fi recordings, and it's a little frustrating- but interesting, too, in its "atmospheric" way. This is "atmospheric" in the sense of "I know the exact coffee shop where this live performance was recorded", and I suspect the quality drop would frustrate me a lot more if I didn't have that emotional connection.

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