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Also this post won't go into streaming, since if you're considering an iPod, you need a local music collection. You also should keep all your music local anyways.
I started to ask myself, why? Why use an iPod? The novelty of it wore off, and I realized there's not really that much of a reason to use an iPod. If you use anything other than shuffle, the click wheel can't compare to a touch screen. Trying to find a specific song in a big list, trying to search for part of a song, etc. There are also other limitations in software that even Rockbox can't overcome. This post will go over what I think are the big categories where using an iPod isn't really practical.
When it comes to obtaining and carrying an iPod, you need the ~$30 or more investment in some sort of iPod, then you'll need ~$10 for a battery, maybe ~$45 for an iFlash and SD card. You'll then need to carry two devices, your iPod and your phone. I also see people wanting to spend even more adding a Bluetooth module. If the issue is battery life and you're fine with carrying two things, you can just get a ~$10 battery bank and your issue is fixed. You'll have the advantages of using a phone with more battery. These make it impractical to carry an iPod.
Even if you aren't concerned with practicality, transferring music to an iPod, or really any Apple product sucks. I have to maintain my library both on my computer and on device. If I remove, add, or change the metadata of a song, I have to remember to do the same in iTunes and convert FLAC to ALAC and hope iTunes doesn't bug out during a transfer. I can't just copy my library over or modify the files directly, unless I use Rockbox. Having music able to be added and removed without any specific software, just my file manager, is a lot more convenient. If I do use Rockbox, this is possible, however I'm capped to USB 2.0 speeds, and I also can't seem to break 10MBps for some reason. I also need to remember to rebuild the library and wait for it to do so before playing music. Meanwhile for my phone, it's faster, maybe even USB 3. MTP is kinda bad and mass storage mode doesn't exist in Android anymore, but I can just pop out my MicroSD for bigger transfers if need be. If you try that with an iPod with an iFlash, it's unreadable.
If your big thing is wanting a distraction free music device, you can just configure do not disturb. However if you're dead set on getting a separate device, there are a lot better options out there. If you're in the US, you can get a Motorola Droid Razr M for ~$20. It's a small device running Android 4.4 with a MicroSD, headphone jack, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 2000mAh battery. You can root and debloat it to extend battery life and use Viper4Android which has more EQ customizability than Rockbox. I'd consider the phone usable even today, at least software and speed wise, especially if you custom ROM up to 7.1.2. (Bootloader unlock costs $25 though unless you get lucky and have an older firmware.) You have an infinitely more useful device that you can play games more complex than brick breaker on, like Angry Birds, if you get tired of music.
If you want a good DAC, you're not finding it in the iPod. The iPod uses a consumer tier DAC and AMP like everything else. The 5(.5) is on par with the iPod Touch 1 or the iPhone 4s DAC wise. If you want something actually good, you're going to want some sort of FiiO or other brand player made for audiophiles. If you're going to use Bluetooth, everything that supports your headphones codecs will sound the same. Meanwhile, an iPod Bluetooth mod feeds the output from the DAC/AMP to the Bluetooth ADC, which transmits to your headphones and runs through another DAC/AMP before playing. This will fuck up your sound, and have noise gates and other analogue to Bluetooth issues. Any phone will give you good Bluetooth audio since it's digital until it gets to your headphones.
There is no scenario that I can think of where an iPod makes practical sense to be used. It might be fun to mod, or experiment with, but that's all I can think of. I just can't see any basic music player as a good music device today when old Android phones are cheaper and infinitely more capable.
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