Martin from our sister site anythingbutipod likes running everything he can get his hands on through RightMark Audio Analyzer – a program that basically tells you in measurable quantities how good the audio of a device is. Sound quality is of course a matter of opinion, but mostly in terms of sound enhancements and sound signatures of speakers/headphones – the base sound quality before all of that is applied still needs to make sense. When Maritn ran the iPad 2 through these tests, he surprisingly found that the thing is actually a very good audio source as far as RMAA goes. In fact, he calls it the “Best semi-portable [he’s] ran through RMAA yet”.
So what does this mean? Well, not really all that much. The iPad already has line-out capabilities as well as the ability to use USB sound devices, so base sound quality wouldn’t have been an issue in any case if you could live with connecting a bit of extra gear to it. Through the magic of apps the iPad can now read less Apply-y file formats like FLAC as well, so no need to run around syncing Apple Lossless files with iTunes. What it lacks however is any useful audio enhancement technology, so it will still lose to certain dedicated audio player brands (*cough* Cowon *cough*) when it’s time to tweak the sound signature to fit your personal likes. Even so, the list of things to complain about when it comes to iDevices’ audio is growing rather short. Just a few years ago it you needed to sync with iTunes, iTunes used DRM, the sound quality was “meh”, you didn’t have support for formats like FLAC, and you couldn’t connect USB sound equipment (not that any other normal MP3 player can do that). Haters will be haters even if they run out of objective things to complain about, and in the mean while, the rest of us can benefit from the improvements Apple and third party developers have made to the platform.[RMAA results via Anythingbutipod]