Originally Posted by Catt99
One future item I'll report on soon is the iPod connectivity. My wife has a little 2GB nano -- I really had no interest in playing highly compressed music through the receiver when I could play most of the content I want through our CDs. However, I ended up ordering a 30GB video iPod through a member rewards sort of program, and I figure I can store 10 - 20 full albums in uncompressed lossless format with plenty of room to spare for compressed mp3's, video clips, etc. So I ended up using some available online store credits to pick up the iPod dock for this receiver; when the new iPod arrives and I get it set-up, I'll report back on my impressions of the iPod connectivity -- lossless music, compressed music with the built-in enhancer, and video abilities (which apparently is not controllable via remote). The whole iPod connectivity is one I thought I'd have little use for, but it may now be fairly useful.
30GB Video iPod arrived a few days back. I had already used iTunes to import a large number of albums from our CDs - some in lossless format, some compressed. I also downloaded from iTunes a movie trailer for the Simpson's Movie and also a bunch of personal photos for a still image experiment. After updating the new iPod and its operating software, I popped it into the YDS-10 docking station (connected to my HTR-5960) and then followed my owner's manual instructions to initiate OSD iPod abilities. More or less went without much of a hitch (though it should clarify that the 5960 remote needs to be switched between "Amp" and "Source" to control the iPod remotely - I use a Harmony universal remote and, after learning the iPod commands via the 5960 remote, it worked flawlessly).
For my evaluation, I used our family room set-up consisting of a Sony s20L1 (Costco version of Sony s2000) 720p LCD HDTV connected to the 5960 via component; for a CD player I'm using an Oppo 971 via digital coaxial; speakers are the little Athena Micra 6 package with a Bic H-100 sub - so keep in mind that we're not talking high-end speakers in this experiment or any sort of audiophile player / decoder etc. To compare sound between CD and iPod, I set up the Oppo player and the iPod to play the same track at the same time, and then switched back and forth between inputs as the tracks played. I used pure direct" mode, stereo 2-channel," and the Yamaha compressed music enhancer at various different points. I selected older rock music tracks that I'm pretty familiar with -- Rush's "Closer to the Heart" in lossless and Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" compressed. Was going to test on some demanding classical stuff, but I am just not familiar enough and I was ready to wind down my testing at that point.
To start, I experimented with lossless (uncompressed) music from the iPod. The perceived sound levels between iPod and CD player was somewhere about 10 dbs difference (iPod quieter) - I didn't want to try and calibrate with an SPL to find out the precise difference so I could truly compare apples to apples - I just did it by ear switching inputs with one hand and adjusting volume with the other. I expected the lossless iPod stream and the CD to be identical, and I think they are very, very close; however, I still felt the iPod stream was just a little less rich, a tad more flat - I have no idea why, logically, this should be - it could be simple psychology (this isn't a blind test), inaccurate by ear volume adjusts between inputs, or something to do with the Apple lossless transfer - in any event, it sounded good enough to play lossless music from the iPod regularly.
I next compared typical compressed music versus the CD player. Here, the differences were evident in pure direct and in 2-channel stereo mode. The compressed iPod streams are clearly distinguishable from uncompressed CD samples; good news is that they are in fact noticeably improved with the compressed music enhancer DSP in the 5960 - it seems to do its job very well - there is still a difference in sound quality (not surprisingly) but it is quite a bit less noticeable. Given the choice, I'll use my CDs for focused listening; for background music such as when working on a computer or busy with something else that is a drain on attention, I think even compressed music with the Yamaha enhancer is solid enough to be comfortable with for most types of music.
Still images and video is available through the dock. Not surprisingly, the quality / resolution isn't great. I am still new to video iPod, and so may be screwing something up - I tried to load the HD (720p) version of the Simpson's Movie trailer mentioned above, but the iPod wouldn't accept the file since it is incapable of displaying it; I hoped that while the iPod couldn't display it, it could pass the data through the 5960 to my display but can't figure out if this is even possible. So my video experiment was limited to mpeg4 version of the trailer. The still photos I used in a slideshow and were OK but also showed the bit of blockiness associated with scaling it to the 40 display - still, the kids got a big kick out of seeing themselves on the TV. A final note on the image docking process: apparently due to the software design in the iPod, you can't control any of the image / video settings via remote - the only menu items that appear in the OSD of the display attached to the 5960 is music-related - to manage video one must physically work the iPod in its docking cradle.
So, all in all, I am happy with the dock and the 5960's performance with it. For the $50 or so I ended up paying for the dock, it provides a very convenient way to charge our iPods, play music from the iPod at either comparable quality or a quality level that, while below that of a CD, isn't by any stretch bad for routine listening (especially with the enhancer enabled or with a lossless recording), view still image slideshows, and watch videos to boot (though nowhere near the quality one might be used to on an HD set).
One request for any others with the dock and a compatible Yamaha receiver: I read in the Gene DellaSala's Audioholics' review of this receiver that there are potentially dire consequences to power cycling the receiver with an iPod in the dock - I haven't had the guts (or foolhardiness) to experiment, and would appreciate hearing from anyone who has done so. I will be much happier knowing I can store my iPod in the dock without worrying about power cycles (especially with others in the house turning the set-up on and off).