Like most good things in life, the more you invest in improving your music-listening experience, the more satisfaction you'll get from it. True, some people can go overboard on this stuff, but for most of us, a modest investment can reap huge payoffs in the sound quality and the emotional impact derived from your music collection. Whether it's listening to an iPod during your commute, or enjoying streaming Internet radio from your computer, there are some worthwhile purchases you can make to take your music experience to the next level.
A good set of in-ear headphones will also provide a nice, sound-isolating seal in the ear, reducing hearing damage caused by external noise and allowing you to listen to music at a lower volume.
Why not simply patch your iPod to your home stereo using a $10 patch cable? A decent iPod speaker dock will not only offer a more convenient size than a full-blown music system, but by drawing audio from the iPod's dock connection, you'll get a cleaner signal that hasn't been colored by the iPod's puny internal headphone amplifier.
If you're ripping music from CDs, you can increase the bit rate of your rips from the default 128kbps setting to 192kbps, or above. If file size is not a concern, then by all means rip your music to a lossless format such as WMA-Lossless, Apple Lossless, or FLAC.