Audiophiles Become IPodiophiles (Wired)

Old-time audiophiles must be spinning in their soundproof graves. Thanks to hardware modifications and headphone amplifiers, the humble iPod is earning a place at the heart of the most expensive and exacting sound systems.

Veteran audiophiles would scoff. The iPod is relatively inexpensive, costing only a fraction of the $10,000 to $100,000 some will spend on big-rig audio gear. And it is designed to play — gasp — compressed audio.

Audiophiles demand only the highest fidelity and detail. For some, digital music in any form, especially highly compressed MP3, is contemptuously unacceptable. To purists, only old-fashioned vinyl platters cut it.

But remarkably, the iPod is exceptionally well engineered, boasting circuitry to rival much more expensive stereo components. And thanks to CD-quality or lossless codecs, not even those blessed with golden ears can detect a recording’s source.