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IMOD by Redwineaudio

post #1 of 82
Thread Starter 
I have been using a 60gig Ipod Photo modified by Vinnie of Redwineaudio since Thanksgiving, and would like to provide some feedback on this amazing device. First off, let me say that Vinnie himself is a super decent person, he takes the time to ask all your questions, before, during and after the mod. Vinnie also now makes available Ipod Photos which he obtains directly from Apple, in case you (like me) no longer have one available to ship for modification. Vinnie absolutely will NOT modify a newer unit, so you must find a used or reconditioned Ipod Photo if you don't have one.

Vinnie's very straightforward proposition is that the Ipod's built-in DAC actually is excellent, it is all the follow-on circuitry designed to power headsets, control volume and offer a wide variety of equalization settings that is of poor quality. He is correct, if you listen to a standard Ipod with EQ turned off you realize just how poorly it sounds, the EQ is needed to restore depth and fullness to the sound, as well as to tailor it to a variety of tastes that the average Ipod listener might have. Vinnie basically connects the ouput of the DAC directly to the headphone jack, putting a high-end capacitor in the path and nothing else.

I generally play my IMOD (Vinnies term for a modified Ipod) through a fairly high-end stereo, so losing the ability to control volume directly from the unit was immaterial. When I finally received my IMOD after a variety of postal screw-ups, I was immediately impressed by the depth, warmth and fullness of the sound. Vinnie tells you it takes at least 100 hours to fully break in the Black Gate capacitor that connects the DAC to the headphone jack. With each passing day, the sound made subtle gains in quality, pacing and warmth.

Vinnie describes the IMOD sound as "analog" in nature, and he is correct. It has soul, a certain rightness that, for example, a mid-range CD player lacks. Due to its limited power supply, the Ipod will not have the forceful bass and slam that a very well designed CD player might, but it has a sweetness, a naturalness, a warmth and a certain "rightness" of sound that are just stunning. This isn't to say, by the way, the bass isn't good-it is superb, it is deeper than you can believe can come from such a tiny machine, it is taut and very real sounding. Before modification, listening to the Ipod through my stereo was never an engaging experience, and my stereo can make almost anything sound engaging. It was OK, but lacked a real reason to focus on the music. Now, it is completely engaging, it has energy, the sound stage is remarkable, the pacing is right and it is a pleasure to listen to. I prefer to listen to the IMOD to my mid-range CD player, and in fact now realize I need to upgrade to an Ayre or other high-end CD player manufactured to capture all the nuances of CD's, not to meet a price-point.

Interestingly, the character of the sound is wonderful on compressed music as well as uncompressed. I have music at various levels of compression, from a variety of sources, and when it is at the higher bit rates (256, 320, in MP4) it is completely enjoyable. In my personal opinion, even when played through remarkable speakers, there is nothing wrong with compression, as long as you don't get carried away. You lose a little "air" and a touch of detail, but the overall quality, character and listenability remain; plus you get a lot more music to enjoy on your 60 gig drive.

Also, interconnects are very important. To connect an IMOD using a stock Apple cable degrades the sound tremendously. There are many fine cables out there, from Kimber Kable, Cardas, and so forth. Vinnie sells one on his site.

In short, Vinnie has turned a consumer product that is part fashion item, part music player into an audiophile product, and at the end of the day, if you include the cost of the Ipod itself, for just over $400 you end up with an excellent digital music source that happens to also be portable and easy to use. I cannot imagine any other digital source with close to the sound of an IMOD for $400! Reasonably high-end CD players cost around $3,000, and while they undoubtedly out perform the IMOD, they do not hold 60 gig of music, definitely are not portable, and probably have no sweeter sound-just more detail, "air" and slam.
post #2 of 82
No offense but this seems like an advertisement. And we don't need anyone to advertise the iMod; we already know it's great!
post #3 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by threEchelon View Post
No offense but this seems like an advertisement. And we don't need anyone to advertise the iMod; we already know it's great!
though i agree that this is a bit over the top and kind of suspicious especially as a first post, i have to give the OP the benefit of the doubt. mainly because Vinnie wouldn't do something like that.

so i'll say this to the OP - welcome aboard. yes, the iMod is quite a fabulous product which continues to amaze me that such a quality sound can be had from a portable unit.
post #4 of 82
This post sounds absoultely like adv. ..
is true the imod deserves particular attention though , imho , as the best existing portable hiend source solution .

More then this I can add, my experience is Vinnie is first class vendor , probably the best audio seller I've had to do with .
post #5 of 82
Well, I must beg to differ on the original post being advertising. I think if you read many of the very positive reviews of the iMod on various threads and posts there are many reviews that could be taken for advertising, assuming being very positive about the iMod, and convincingly so, is really advertising. I would chalk these off more to enthusiasm than anything!

What I liked about this review was hearing about how the iMod sounded when hooked up to a "fairly high-end stereo." We don't read much about that in other posts. In fact, it never dawned on me to actually do that. (So call me stupid!). I think the descriptions of what the iMod could and could not do was informative and balanced. It helps a user to know what would happen and not happen when an iMod is hooked up to a larger system. It helps and prospective buyer decide if an iMod would be best for his or her needs.

This is not advertising to me. However, I think the iMod is great and everyone should have one!!!! So there!!!
post #6 of 82
is the line out of an imod better than using a line out through the dock (not headphone jack) of an unmodded ipod?
post #7 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppergrass View Post
is the line out of an imod better than using a line out through the dock (not headphone jack) of an unmodded ipod?
Vinnie claims it is, and so far everyone who has heard one agrees. I've not heard one, but I have yet to hear a negative review.

Unfortunately Vinnie won't mod iPods after 4g, says there's just not enough room.
post #8 of 82
Hi skilover and everbody,

Yes, of course this was an ad and I payed skilover a lot of money for it! Corruption isn't cheap!

Seriously, he emailed me raving about how much he loved his iPod and how he was using it in his home audio rig (just like I do). I asked him if he can mention what he has found (which I am very thankful for, as always when iMod customers post what they hear with the iMod) and I did give him a link to headfi.com. I had no idea what he was going to post, and when I just took a look here and found his review, I was very happy because it as very thoughtful and detailed.

However, I did feel a little bad reading the few responses following his post. It looks like he is a newbie here and I didn't want people to be upset with him or his post, or feel like it was some sort of ad. He paid for his iMod and I was really was happy with his emails to me stating his findings. Other than that, I don't know him any better than any other iMod customer that I have worked with.

I just want to apoloigize if anyone was bothered by his post because I am the one responsible for asking if he wouldn't mind posting his impressions using the iPod in his 2-channel rig.

Quote:
is the line out of an imod better than using a line out through the dock (not headphone jack) of an unmodded ipod?
Hi Hoppergrass,

The details of the modification can be found here:
http://www.redwineaudio.com/iMod.html

I really like the Wolfson WM8975 dac used in the 4th gen models, but I didn't realize how good this dac really sounds (using Apple Lossless) until I bypassed the stock circuitry that follows it (mentioned in the link above).

There have been lots of posts on headfi throughout the year about the iMod. Doing a quick search, I found many:

http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showt...%22+%22iMod%22

http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showt...highlight=iMod

http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showt...highlight=iMod

http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showt...highlight=iMod

There are hundreds of posts in these links and I'm not sure that you have the time to read them all, but the iMod satisfaction rate is very high.

If you or anyone has questions, needs iMod support, etc. please feel free to contact me at any time:
http://www.redwineaudio.com/iMod.html

Thanks for all your interest and support in 2006! The iMod will still be on the list for 2007 and I am confident that there will still be ample supply of the 4th gen iPods. Also, finding parts for them is quite easy and I will support them for as long as you own them.... I promise you that!

Happy upcoming New Year!

Vinnie
post #9 of 82
well, after having swapped a couple of emails with vinnie and then
reading several links from the above posts (many of which i'd read
before but had forgotten that they mentioned the line out dock)
i ordered a 60gig iMod iPod.
post #10 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppergrass View Post
well, after having swapped a couple of emails with vinnie and then
reading several links from the above posts (many of which i'd read
before but had forgotten that they mentioned the line out dock)
i ordered a 60gig iMod iPod.
Dude! Nothing like jumping right in!

So now you're using UE's, right? Need a mini to mini cable to connect the amp.

You've got some more shopping to do, but man is that thing gonna sound SCHWEET!

What format are you using for your digital files? A rig like that is screaming for lossless or at the very least high bit-rate mp3.
post #11 of 82
Thread Starter 
Jeeze, mates, being a bit harsh on a newbie, are you not? It's kinda sad when the very guy I'm trying to help out a wee dram has to ride in and rescue me!

So, to be perfectly straight, that was NOT a paid advert! I never heard of Vinnie 6 weeks ago, and have no real reason to do an unpaid advert for him. My reason for writing was that so much of what is said here is, completely reasonably, aimed at using Ipods, and Imods with headphones. Nothing wrong with that, I do it myself, but the truth is an Ipod could also be a perfectly fine digital source for a stereo system (the kind that plays loud and bugs the neighbours, not the kind that sit on your ears). While I do own good phones (Grado 325 & Westone dual driver in-ear guys), and enjoy listening when on the road or in the sun, most of my listening is done with a conventional stereo rig. And, in my experience, the stereo is more revealing of the flaws and strengths of the components that feed it. In truth, I was OK listening to my G5 Ipod Video on my Grados, and my Westone's with my Nano. But, while my stereo's finest strength is being able to turn almost anything into music, which is a huge strength, it could NOT turn what came out of my Ipod into music. Unfortunately, I no longer possess the original CD's (my ex got them, I got the hard drive), so was frantically trying to find a way to play the contents of my hard drive on a device that could actually make music.

And that is how I found this site, because I was Googling if anyone had modified an Ipod, or had figured a way to get the digital signal out of it, or something I could work with. I then ran into the rave reviews of Vinnie's Imod (which, by the way, were just as glowing as anything I wrote), which led me to Vinnie. I was really desperate to find a solution to my digital source woes, and what Vinnie proposed made such good sense, I went with it. Of course I for some reason thought he would modify my G5, as I forgot the IpodPhoto is even older than my Ipod Video (they are on Ipod Movie, now). And, the rat absolutely would NOT modify my unit, even after I sent it to him, but he did obtain for me a rebuilt Ipod Photo, which he then modified.

I was blown away by the result, as I've made very clear. When you listen to a normal Ipod without EQ you realize just how screwed up the circuitry inside is; when you listen to an Imod you get--well, you get music! Even after a few minutes I realised that while definitely not the last word in audio, the modified Ipod would play music from my stereo, and as it turns out, do it well. One reason I wrote was to express the gratitude; the other is to share the possibility of using the modified Ipod as a way to play music through a stereo system, in addition to through headphones.

So, while I've read many threads here, including those on the Imod, and several on headphone amps (I've settled on the Hornet, I hope that is a good choice, as the designer has bonafide audiophile creds, as of course, does Vinnie), I guess I didn't think about the nature of my first posting, so if I did offend, please accept my apologies.

Meantime, let me answer one question. Since I have both my original G5 Ipod (kindly returned to me by Vinnie), and my Imod, I can state with absolute certainty that the Imod is a vastly superior digital music source than the line out from the G5. It isn't even a contest. I've tried it. A/B, same music, you know the drill. The fact is, the Imod is very good at what it does, and you'd have to pay significant money to find better sound-- of course, for the right price you certainly could beat it with one of many quality CD players. However, if you want to play your tunes off a hard drive, the choices are very, very limited; in that universe, the modded Ipod really sings.

Now, Vinnie, since I had to do TWO adverts, we need to talk....

(just kidding guys)
post #12 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by nelamvr6 View Post
Dude! Nothing like jumping right in!

So now you're using UE's, right? Need a mini to mini cable to connect the amp.

You've got some more shopping to do, but man is that thing gonna sound SCHWEET!

What format are you using for your digital files? A rig like that is screaming for lossless or at the very least high bit-rate mp3.
well, i've been thinking iMod for a few weeks now, and i've also wished i would have gotten more than a 30 gig iPod for a while. i read on another thread where vinnie has some 60gigs ready to be iModded and sold, so i figured i'd jump while i could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. i was also looking at maybe getting a cryo dock to mini, but i'm glad i waited. now it'll be cryo mini to mini. and the whole reason i've been wanting more space on my iPod is that i want to re-rip in lossless, and i just don't have room on my 30gig.
post #13 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppergrass View Post
well, i've been thinking iMod for a few weeks now, and i've also wished i would have gotten more than a 30 gig iPod for a while. i read on another thread where vinnie has some 60gigs ready to be iModded and sold, so i figured i'd jump while i could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. i was also looking at maybe getting a cryo dock to mini, but i'm glad i waited. now it'll be cryo mini to mini. and the whole reason i've been wanting more space on my iPod is that i want to re-rip in lossless, and i just don't have room on my 30gig.
If you go lossless you'll run out of room pretty quick on a 60Gig too.

Have you tried any of the high bit rate mp3's?

I myself use VBR quality 0 (the highest) and the files are tiny compared to lossless, but they sound pretty darn good.
post #14 of 82
Thread Starter 
I agree with nevlam, AAC 320 or even 256 sound excellent for most music. AAC 320 takes up half the space of lossless. I think things like the right cable and the quality of the original recording will make as great a difference as lossless. Low bit rate MP3's are clearly awful, but that doesn't mean compression per-se is bad. All digital music involves sampling, but when done correctly, and not overdone, it seems to work. Otherwise, 60 gig is not going to hold your music library, and you will need to continuously swap your music from a 300 gig drive somewhere.
post #15 of 82
thanks for the advise. i'll try out a few before i rip my whole collection
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