Best iPods for AUDIOphiles

My circa 2005/2006 with video iPod appears to be dying today, so I am wondering what version would be the best replacement.

My top three priorities would be 1) sound quality 2) sound quality and 3) sound quality so if any devices perform better with WAV files, that would be great to know.

After that, my main concern would be battery life. I suppose this relates to the point above if WAV files drained the battery on any particular versions?

I think I want a full size iPod but storage space is otherwise of minimal concern to me, and video and photos are of no concern - will never use those features.

Thanks for any ideas, particularly if good versions are available used or NOS ("new old stock") very inexpensively.
I'm not an iPOD kind of guy, but if I were, I'd have my Sennheiser 650's and one of those small portable headphone amps hooked up to it. I think it's like hi-fi. The iPOD is the source. You need good speakers as well.
I've owned the 60GB 80GB and my friend bought the newest 160GB version. I thought the sound got progressively better with each new version. I spent a good deal of time comparing the 80GB to the 160GB and it was enough better than I want to replace my 80GB now just for the improved sound quality.
Agreed. Get the 160 ipod classic, record using AIFF or some type of lossless and get yourself a portable amp. Do a search for headphone amp and you will find a lot. I have a portaphile amp and very happy with it plus the Shure E530 phones.
If you do get a portable amp it's worth tracking down one of the cables that goes from the dock connector to the amp input, rather than from the headphone output, so that you're bypassing the internal amp of the iPod. On one end it will have a plug that fits the dock connector on the bottom of the iPod and a stereo miniplug on the other.

I bought one from a seller called 'bassel-e' on ebay and it's a nicely made cable.
On another related topic, the Bose "on ear" headphones seem purposely designed to mate with the Ipod. Bass is full and powerful and the sound is rich. Totally transforms the Ipod. It gives you the option of not having to add an additional amp. None of the Ipods can drive any of the audiophile approved cans adequately without an external amp. The Bose OTOH is so efficient, it gets the job done admirably. Try for yourself at the Apple store. I'm sure you will be presently suprised.
Wait until September since this is when Apple always upgrades the Ipod lineup....usually lower costs, more memory or other changes...they may be going to a a touch screen like the Itouch model.

Larry K
All very interesting and thanks.

I already have Sennheiser HD580's and a Grado headphone amp, as well as a vintagey Headroom amp. I have Shure headphones, Etymotics headphones and Bose noise cancellation headphones.

For the iPod, my main concern is working out and long haul airplane flights.

For flights, I have just received a pair of the Sennheiser PXC-450s.

These seem to to have a higher build quality than Bose, more robust noise cancellation, and also seem to sound much better and more detailed.

Glad to know that the newer and higher storage capacity iPods have not cheapened the sound.
in terms of sound quality directly from the ipod, the consensus is that the 4th, 5th and 5.5 generations work off the best dac chips. some people have then moved forward and had their pods modded by vinnie rossi at red wine audio.