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why no monophonic amplifiers for ipods?

Portables A/V

Portables A/V
Discussions about smartphones, tables, MP3 players, and digital music

why no monophonic amplifiers for ipods?

  • I am puzzled.

    It's easy to spend $300 or more for devices like the Bose SoundDock (which I have).  These devices contain separate amplifiers and speakers for each channel. Since the separation between the speakers is often very small (maybe 6-10"), there's no stereo sound stage unless you sit just a few feet away. I doubt many users do that.

    Wouldn't most users get more "bang for the buck" with a mono device requiring just one amp/speakers, presumably of higher quality for the price?

    For example, I also play the Ipod through the "aux"  input on an ancient, mono, Proton 300 Radio (~$100 on eBay). I like the concept and I like the sound.

    Am I missing something?

     



    [edited by: J P at 7:46 PM (GMT -5) on Tue, Sep 28 2010] Changed to discussion.
  • dizmayed
    Am I missing something?

    I think so ... Devil

    If you have a decent stereo system and want really good sound from an iPod, there are pre-amps and or you can just run the headphone jack to RCA's into your home system.

    The Bose SoundDock is great for people with an apartment or people who want better quality for their iPod in a hotel or at the beach, or ...

    I don't see a massive mono speaker/amp system working well for the portable or home market.

    But you might be right and I might be wrong.

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Perhaps I was unclear. I was suggesting that:

    1) SoundDock-type devices produce stereo sound, but few sit close enough to appreciate the stereo sound stage. The stereo feature is therefore generally "wasted."

    2) SoundDock-type engineers must spec two amplifiers and two speaker sets for each channel.

    3) A monaural SoundDock-type device requires but one amp and one speaker set.

    4) Assuming the same price point, the engineers have the opportunity to spec the single amp and the single set of speakers with higher quality parts, therefore better sound.

    No need to invoke anything "massive." That's why I mentioned the 25 year-old Proton 300 Table radio (orig. ~$275 and the size of a shoe-box) as an example of a solution. Not only that, it was displayed at NYC Museum of Modern Art!

     

  • My old Elvis 45s would sound great thru that amp, I'm sure.

    Most modern music is mastered using at least a right and a left channel and sometimes 5 or more. It is meant to be replicated using at least a 2 channel stereo amp. Since this is how it was mastered to be played back, this is how it sounds best.

     

    GLH Geeked

  • I think it is more of a marketing thing than anything else - remember when they used to sell 13-inch "Stereo" tv's with one speaker on either side and no external output jacks?

    Same thing - no way that was better than having one larger speaker in the middle of the TV - but it "read" better to people who didn't take the time to think about it.

    Hope This Helps!!!

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Interesting responses. Thank you.

    Here's a link to a discussion re using iPod in mono for various purposes. Some claim it sounds fine, some say it inherently degrades/distorts the sound, some say it poses a risk to the iPod electronics unless precautions are taken.

    http://www.macintouch.com/readerreports/audio/topic2091.html

    Aha!

    But here's what I'm looking for, suggesting, and talking about. This site describes a <mono> "SoundDock" gizmo. It is a kit, it did cost ~$300, but could be built for less with a less costly cabinet. Features two 6" woofers and silk dome tweeter and an 8 watt amp.

    Pretty to look at but how does it sound?

    http://kurtisb.awardspace.com/

    Why aren't we hearing from Crutchfield (or are we?)

     

  • dizmayed
    Some claim it sounds fine, some say it inherently degrades/distorts the sound, some say it poses a risk to the iPod electronics unless precautions are taken.

    I am of the opinion it would work fine - but of course listening to stereo output in mono will degrade the experience somewhat.  I am not POSITIVE it is safe for the equipment, though.

    dizmayed
    Pretty to look at but how does it sound?

    Cool project!!!

    dizmayed
    Why aren't we hearing from Crutchfield (or are we?)

    Not sure what you mean.  The forum is maintained by CF, but the actual CF employees only monitor it occasionally and will comment on threads they find interesting.  If you would like to contact CF directly with your idea, you should probably send a notice to "Bill Listens".

    Thanks!

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Again, I can't see why you would want to listen to stereo recordings in lesser quality sound. To each his own tho.

    GLH Geeked

  • Although I doubt the lesser quality would be even audible by most. I really don't know why someone would spend $300 on a unit mainly only meant for your iPod. If you want quality audio for your iPod hook it up to your home stereo or car stereo. If you want something small and portable just go buy a cheap $20 dollar unit. I don't see why one would want stellar sound in a portable unit anyways. Heck headphones have always worked for me. Thats just my opinion and I don't look to start an argument so please don't take offense.

    GMC Sonoma, JVC KD-A95BT, 2 Pioneer TS-D601P in doors, 2 Pioneer TS-G4644R in dash, 2 JL W3v2-D2 10 inch subs, Lightning Audio B4.250.2, Soundstream TX1.1300D

  • Yes, you are missing something. It may not seem intuitive, but doing it different costs more. The cost of two channel reproduction on these little devices is trivial. Stereo is ubiquitous, mass produced and cheap. It would cost more to produce a specialized mono component than to stick with stereo, and there would be no significant market a component that delivers "less for more".

    Simply put, hardware cost on these devices is insignificant. The guts cost pennies to produce. You pay for shiny plastic and marketing.

    As TigerHeli alluded to, the D/A conversion in iPod's and like devices (and in PC sound cards, for that matter) is so poor that they don't do a very good job of imaging even when connected to "conventional" amplifier/speaker systems. Your Proton sounds good with these sources because it, and others like it (Tivoli, Bose and so on) aren't very revealing and therefore hide a multitude of sonic sins.

    If you want improved sound in a small package, rip to flac, get a good D/A converter, maybe a small tube/hybrid preamp (stereo or mono). Connect to  a nice amp and a near field monitor (or two), sit back and enjoy.

    Another great option is headphones. As I am typing this I am listening to a flac rip of Telarc's 'Blues for a Rotten Afternoon' ..."somebody's got to do it, that somebody's me"...through a Maverick Tube Magic DAC fed via SPDIF pass-through from my motherboard to a pair of Sennheiser cans. Sweeeet!

    If you want to experiment, I recommend fining a copy of Telarc's CD (Telarc does digital really well) of Dave Brubeck's 'Indian Summer'. Solo piano - nowhere to hide.

     



    [edited by: Alex W at 11:50 PM (GMT -5) on Thu, Sep 23 2010]

         RESIma

  • Big Teddy:

    Thanks for your comments.

    If you followed my post, I referred to the Bose SoundDock ($300) ,  like it or hate it, it as an example of a device built to amplify the iPod sound. One can spend thousands of $$ on iPod amplifiers. The market exists.

    I agree with you that an iPod can be connected to a sophisticated home hi-fi (like I do)  or to headphones. Both offer decent hi-fi options.

    My focus here is on let's say "desk-top" iPod amps.

     

    t

  • Thanks Alex for your reply.

    You wrote:

    "The cost of two channel reproduction on these little devices is trivial. Stereo is ubiquitous, mass produced and cheap. It would cost more to produce a specialized mono component than to stick with stereo, and there would be no significant market a component that delivers "less for more".

    I question your first assumption, but not the second,and that's why I cited this mono amp, which may be able compete with the "shiny plastic":

    http://kurtisb.awardspace.com/

    As for your recommendations  re D/A converters, FLAC or headphones,

    of course input quality, output, etc. is paramount, but that's not the discussion here.

    Well, as for Dave Brubeck,  see my pal here: http://www.amazon.com/QSF-Plays-Brubeck-Quartet-Francisco/dp/B002N4JZXE

     

    bright moments,

    tm

    jr149

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Yes I do realize that you were focusing mainly on desk-top iPod amps and like I said I do not see a purpose realistically spend much money on one at all good sound quality or not. Most are used for small areas or as an alarm clock. So I do not know why one would want or expect something of stellar sound from it. I do like your idea for a mono setup but I must agree with Alex W. With your suggestion of two subs and one tweeter, well, it does not add that much more to the overall cost to add an additional tweeter and run it as a stereo component. Also as already stated a mono device receiving a stereo signal would not be safe for your equipment. I do not hate the Bose SoundDock, I just can not justify spending that kind of money on something like that. But, for me I would like to see a portable dock (stereo sound) that could house your iPod (or some other mp3 player for that matter) and the speakers could be folded around the iPod itself. Protecting both the speakers and iPod. It would have to be small enough so it could easy be packed up for trips. This way any one who traveled could take a small iPod dock with them that would be portable and easy to maintain (I swear if I see something like this in the near future I will be pi**ed). Just an idea but, IMO a good one LOL.

    GMC Sonoma, JVC KD-A95BT, 2 Pioneer TS-D601P in doors, 2 Pioneer TS-G4644R in dash, 2 JL W3v2-D2 10 inch subs, Lightning Audio B4.250.2, Soundstream TX1.1300D

  • BIG teddy
    It would have to be small enough so it could easy be packed up for trips.

    Something like these, maybe ...

    Agreed on the headphones, but I have three gripes with them:

    • The wired ones on a stereo chain you to one chair.
    • The wireless ones are expensive.
    • Most any of the good ones also block out ambient sound (so you can't hear if people are trying to get your attention) (although sometimes, like NOT having a cel phone - that is a good thing!)Devil

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • I've used Sennheiser Open Air headphones for many years. First 424's, and when they finally died (after decades of use) 590's. I love'em but the problem for me is that the don't contain sound as well as traditional closed cans and my wife complains when I listen in the office late at night.

    I have never heard any wireless phones that I liked at all. I tried Sennheiser wireless a few years back, but returned them because they were noisy, the range wasn't very good and the overall sound didn't impress me. They may have gotten better, but my listening habits are well suited to wires.

         RESIma