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New iMod for the iPod 5G: A Red Wine Audio/ALO Collaboration

post #1 of 456
Thread Starter 
I've just returned from the Home Entertainment Show and will post my thoughts on same in the Member's Lounge. However, this couldn't wait: The biggest news of the show for Head-fi members.

Vinnie Rossi is about to offer an iMod for the iPod 5G in collaboration with Ken Ball of Audio Line Out. The joint project will involve both the iMod and a special product from ALO which will probably be called the iMod Cable. But wait: There's something else to celebrate.

Listeners will no longer have to choose between fidelity and portability. As Vinnie himself put it:

"The new modification will bypass the stock line-out components (opamp stage, coupling caps before and after the opamp, resistors/inductors in the signal path, tiny board traces) by taking the line-out signal directly from the Wolfson DAC and hard-wiring it to the line-out dock connector."

The second stage of the modification -- Black Gate caps, et al. -- will be incorporated into a line-out cable made by Ken Ball of ALO, which will allow Vinnie to give us both options: the iModded line out and the standard headphone out.

The cable prototype I saw from a distance looked to be a coruscating copper-colored weave, which didn't surprise me. Ken Ball began as an artist, and his audio line reflects his beginnings: Aesthetically, ALO cables occupy the place between function and heaven, where techie perfectionism and hand-crafted jewelry merge into sinuous glittering sculpture.

The sound? I didn't have the chance to listen on headphones, as the setup was central to the crowded room, but the 5G mod shone spectacularly through Omega 8" full range drivers and Vinnie's Signature 30. Diana Krall's piano bench squeaked audibly as her engineers caught the full range of the piano's dynamics and frequencies; the click of the upper harmonics complimented the bell-like partials just below them; runs swept the registers realistically; the pedal resonated with low notes that were felt as easily as heard, dispensing with the iPod's so-called bass issues once and for nonce.

The iMod 5G had that high sheen one associates with decent audiophile sources, but there was no hole in the center of the sound, nor was there any high-mid distortion (both issues plagued a third of the setups I listened to at HES -- the latter issue due to reps having no apparent understanding of gain structure). Vinnie also played a bit of dub-inflected acid jazz, as well as Shostakovich's 12th Quartet, which means he was one of the few demo reps at HES whose selections suggested he had taste in music as well as equipment. He also had the sense to keep the volume down.

The price for the 5G iMod has yet to be established, but Vinnie and Ken will be offering it next month. It will be available for both the 5 and 5.5G models. Until then, I'll be focused on the 4G iMod, which Vinnie will be completing for me next week. That's right -- after hearing how scintillating the iMod actually sounded, I caved to the point of giving birth to stalagmites. Years of fence-sitting have led to a decisive leering leap.

One last bit of good news: At some point in the future, Vinnie wants to be able to install a 120GB hard drive along with the iMod. Samsung has already announced the drive; at most, availability is a matter of months.
post #2 of 456
5g only or 5.5 as well?

Either way sounds awesomeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
post #3 of 456
Awesome! Another thing I need to save money for!
post #4 of 456
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tom10167 View Post
5g only or 5.5 as well?

Either way sounds awesomeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
See above, mein tompf. Either way might be awesome, but the 5.5 way is sure to add a few extra eeeee's. (Care to do a few verbal cartwheels on my behoof? I'm sure no one will mind!)
post #5 of 456
will it sound as good as a 4g imod?
post #6 of 456
This is cool. I think having options.
post #7 of 456
Good news!
The 5G iPod are a lot slimmer than the 4G iPod, which is always welcome. Not least that its available in black, which is a better looking match for external amplifiers (since they are mostly black).

/me keep on waiting for an iMod nano though...
post #8 of 456
Kickass! I'll definitely go for a 120GB iMod.
post #9 of 456
nice... but then the question is the cost:

1. 5 or 5.5G new ipod 30 gb - $250
2. mod - $200
3. 120 hard drive - $200
4. cable - $150

totaling $800.... i hope it ain't gonna be that expensive.
post #10 of 456
This is great news! I wonder how Vinnie would compare the sound between 4G and 5G. I remember him saying one of the reasons he didn't offer 5G mods (before) was that the DAC in the 4G is better than the one in the 5G. But having Gapless would be nice.
post #11 of 456
Quote:
The second stage of the modification -- Black Gate caps, et al. -- will be incorporated into the cable, which will somehow allow Vinnie to give us both options.
how does that work??? I cant think of how this can work at all. Can you please explain a little more?
post #12 of 456
FWIW...a 120GB HD of that size will kill your wallet. The Toshiba ones are insanely pricey, like $700 range...and they're not 120GB....

And that's $700+ BEFORE YOU EVEN HAVE THE iPOD, let alone have it modded, THEN have to buy the cable. Prepare to be iBroke.
post #13 of 456
so im guessing theres a special "line out" that while the signal is transferred to the cable, the cable end has the caps in it?
post #14 of 456
Looks like we could've been in the same room at the same time? I just got back. Maybe you saw me, I had a large camera rig.

I agree this room sounded pretty good.

I guess I'll follow you to the other thread for impressions now and prepare pics.
post #15 of 456
Innovation is great. Vinnie had to come up with something or his ability to expand Imod sales would be limited. I hope Imod V2 sounds as good, or better than V1. With Vinnie and Ken working on this project, it's a fair assumption the final product will be impressive.
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