How was Archos sound quality better?
For me the Archos devices have louder hard drive spin up electrical interference noise, and they spin up the hard drive more often. This is only audible with some headphones though.
The original Archos Jukebox also had deficient bass, and there was a mod you could do to improve that. The V2 Recorder doesn't seem to have this problem. The 5th generation iPod is a bit deficient in bass with low impedance headphones, but with an inline volume control turned down a bit that goes away.
Overall, I'm satisfied with 5th generation iPod sound quality, though maybe that's because I'm not too picky.
Some people have modified iPods to take sound output directly from the CODEC chip, and use external higher quality components.