Although Apple doesn't offer great EQ customisation, some presets are available to emphasise bass, vocals and treble, though we weren't keen on using these. In fact, using the 'treble booster' generated an overly harsh, artificial sound quality, though this is pretty subejctive and other ears may enjoy this quality.
Pendulum's drum 'n' bass extravaganza, In Silico, highlighted the classic's ability with heavily electronic music, though we feel this is a type of music moderately more suited to Sony or Cowon players, which tend to offer a sound quality ever-so-slightly better tuned to bass and treble performance.
On the whole, the classic offers the best sound quality of any current generation iPod, and combined with its high capacity and support for lossless audio, it is, in the opinion of someone who values musical performance above all else, a smashing audiophile's music player. And 36 hours of battery life for music will give you over a day and a half of solid listening to boot.
Video was excellent, too. The significantly smaller screen than the iPod touch makes it less suitable for movies, but for TV programmes, video podcasts and music videos, it offers crisp, smooth playback of hgih-quality videos, with decent viewing angles, good performance in sunlight and a playback time of about six hours.
Do note that the little white earphones you get in the box of this, and all iPods, are abysmal. They're on par with earphones bundled with other MP3 players, but they're abysmal, too. The iPod classic sounds ten times better with a pair of earphones costing just £30 or £40 and we strongly, even passionately, advise you factor in the cost of some Sennheiser CX 500s at the very least, when choosing this or any MP3 player. Our round-up of great earphones is a good place to start.
While we were initially dissatisfied with Apple's decision to discontinue the 160GB iPod classic, we feel it's only something that affects the absolute minority of the market. The upgrade to 120GB while retaining the classic's slim form factor, and the addition of the Genius feature, make up for the slightly reduced battery life, reaffirming the iPod classic as our favourite portable audio player on record.
The iPod touch will always be a more feature-packed device, and the iPod nano a more portable one. So discounting those, check out the Archos 605 WiFi or Cowon Q5W for a much better video experience over the iPod classic. Also look for the previous 160GB classic if 120GB just isn't enough storage for you.
Edited by Marian Smith