Well, I wasted more time just now listening to the same track over and over again on my Nexus 7 and my iPhone 5, and even on my iPad 2: Linda Ronstadt’s “Sentimental Reasons”. She has a good, clear voice and a good range, so it’s easy to tell “which is best” – or so I thought. I’ve also been having a side-conversation with Chris, the developer of iSyncr and RocketPlayer for the Nexus 7, and have been testing RocketPlayer’s quality on the Nexus 7 as well.
Side-note: I feel sort of dumb spending so much time on this since (1) I am by no means an audiophile or music expert and (2) listening to music on any of my devices is not something I spend that much time doing. Usually I listen on my iMac at the end of the day, while relaxing with my java sparrows. Nevertheless…
Anyway, it’s just not clear to me anymore (no pun intended). I listened via the Google Play Music version that gets “pinned” on my Nexus 7 (wherever that file is – I have no idea, so can’t check the file size or bitrate info), RocketPlayer (the 256 bitrate AAC file I transferred directly to the Nexus with Android File Transfer) and on my iPhone 5 and iPad 2, via the standard iOS Music app.
It’s not obvious to me whether Google’s Play Music or RocketPlayer sounds best in this case on the Nexus 7. But I swear the sound is “clearer” and the dynamic range (the highs and lows of pitch) is “greater” coming out of the iPhone 5 speakers than the Nexus 7 speakers.
I went back and forth a dozen times at the same point in the song, and when I switch back to the iPhone 5 Ronstadt’s voice comes through clear as a bell, while it just doesn’t seem as clear, or full of dynamic range when it comes out of the Nexus 7 speakers, in either app. It’s maybe subjective, but if I had to choose one of the speakers I’d say the iPhone 5 sounds better between the two.
Meanwhile the iPad 2 blows them both away in quality. I honestly don’t see how anybody can say the Nexus 7 speakers sound better than the iPad 2’s speaker. There’s just no comparison, in my opinion.
Yet between the Nexus 7 and the iPhone 5, I’m no longer sure which is technically “better”. While the sound is undeniably “clearer” on the iPhone 5, I’m no longer sure the “quality is better.” The more I listen, the more I hear intangible defects in the speaker I wasn’t noticing before, such as “tinniness” problem I was complaining about on the Nexus 7.
I suspect that the iPhone 5 is maybe “covering up” the defect for novices like me with a larger volume and throwing in more bass, or something like that, by default. But the iPad 2 is clearly better overall than either the Nexus 7 or the iPhone 5.
Still, if you’re not doing side-by-side comparisons like I was, probably any of the speakers will suffice for casual listening.
For getting the bottom of which speaker is actually better, it might be best to compare the same YouTube video of music on both devices using the Google YouTube player. Not sure anymore.