Is the Cambridge Audio id100 iPod Dock any good? How is the quality of the integrated DAC? Would it be feasible to plug my Sennheiser HD 25 and Beyerdynamic DT880 600 Ohm to it (I guess via the XLR out using an adapter) and have a great sound experience? Do you know of any decent review that checks the audio quality?
Is the Cambridge Audio id100 iPod Dock any good?
Just got mine, in anticipation of the DacMagic 100. Expensive for what it is, some things are nicer but others not so much, that shouldn't be at that price point...
Biggest failure is the lack of digital volume. It doesn't work via the remote, both on a Classic and a Nano. Actually doesn't work straight on the iPod either, the volume indicator changes, but not the actual volume. I assume it is because of the lack of a DAC, it being a pure transport.
The volume on the remote is for their other components, but alas the vast majority of headphone amps don't support ANY remote control... and the point of 3m hp cables is that you don't have to sit next to it (and adjust the volume) I guess I'll have to look into a replaygain solution after all... sigh
More strangely, it doesn't support a number of other iPod functions either, like the alternate fast forward, setting a rating or switching repeat/shuffle. The first isn't so bad, you can hold the FF button. The last isn't so bad because the remote has dedicated buttons. But I can't rate as I listen unless I walk over to the iPod.
Frankly, the Pure i20, at 1/3 the price (!) is a much better deal, since you get everything of the above, digital outs will provide the same quality (except for the missing rather exotic XLR out) everything else works too, and you get an analogue out driven by a decent enough DAC.
The only advantages of the CA id100 is the build quality (and related the much more stable base for the large iPad) and the much better remote. It's not a bad product, but in hindsight, in light of the high cost, not one of my best decisions.
P.S.: Unlike stated on Audio Advisor's page (for example), it DOES work with the iPad 2 now, via a firmware update (1.5.3), which is also probably good news regarding the upcoming iPad 3. The bad news is that their firmware upgrade process is convoluted, Windows only (VM OK) and in the case of the Windows 7 instructions, incorrect. It is doable if you have some understanding of the commandline & paths.
Small UPDATE: In all fairness, one nice detail unlike other docks is the USB port that lets you sync/upload your iTunes files straight to the dock from your Mac/PC (laptop in my case) without having to unplug it & connect it using the standard USB cable instead. And for an expat potentially moving back, the switching wallwart (incl. various plug adapters!) is certainly a big plus...
UPDATE 2: The non-availability of some remote control features also extends to some other menus & functions, like adjusting the brightness (done using the scrollwheel). Again all this works fine on the i20. Maybe I'll try to contact CA and see if there's a firmware update in the cards...
Edited by TheGrumpyOldMan - 3/15/12 at 12:02pm
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Yeah, through I remain interested, it is quite a bit of money for nothing more than a transport. In comparison, an HRT iStreamer will extract the digital signal, allow for volume control and do the digital-to-analog conversion, all for $100 less than the CA unit.
Let us know. To be honest, I don't think you will hear much of any difference in sound, it's just a transport, not even a DAC. On a practical level, it will be able to handle an iPad though, unlike the Onkyo's recessed port. I myself would be interested if the Onkyo's remote control functionality extends to all your iPod's controls (see my post above for some restrictions I discovered for the id100)?
I agree. The remote on the Onkyo was pretty average too. It did sound great though through Coax to the Dac.
I am only changing dock to be able to run an ipad. I am hoping that the iD100 will be a little more solid in its build too. The ND-S1 is nice to look at but is quite plasticky.
I wont be able to try the AES/EBU output until Schiit releases its statement dac but the 4V signal should certainly help too.
The Cambridge should be delivered on Tuesday.
I have an upgraded power supply for the Onkyo so it will be interesting to see if there is any sound quality differences between the Onkyo and Cambridge.
UPDATE: Finally got my iPad new/3 (#%@&* UPS), one of the reasons I got this dock for. The good news is that it's a much more solid base than the i20. The bad news is that it doesn't really work at this time. It managed to forward a track, but the menu button, or even pause/play a couple of times resulted in the dock locking up and the iPad instantly going into suspend mode... The i20 is able to forward/back tracks, play & pause and adjust the volume, reliably. Neither supports any menu navigation (choosing albums etc.)
Now CA has released several firmware updates to support new models, so I'm reasonably confident that they'll release 1.5.4 at some point. There is no announcement anywhere yet that I could find; I'll contact tech support and see what they have to say.
(And as it turns out, the remote at this time does not support -any- click-wheel operation involving ~spin~, among others FF, Volume, Ratings, Play modes, brightness etc. (unlike the i20 which maps them to the same up/down buttons used for other operations))
I didn't really expect that they would sound at all different but I am guessing that the opamps and circuits used to amplify the digital out to a coaxial digital signal must be a bit better. Who knows? But it does sound better. And for what it is worth, I even had an upgraded power supply with the Onkyo.
My biggest complaint is that my iPod won't fit on the Cambridge without removing the rubber foot or the iPods case. But a small price to pay.
The CA also has a much smaller footprint and is absolutely solid in its construction. I would guess that it could take a fall from 1 metre without incurring any real damage.
Well worth the cost IMO.
Now I need to get a windows user to update the firmware so that I can run the iPad2.
Update re. iPad3 compatibility: I contacted CA tech support and they claim it should work fine. This is not the case for me... here's my experience:
Navigating & choosing albums or tracks doesn't work at all, but the same is true for the i-20 (and CA has confirmed that only basic functions are supported... a bit disappointing) Basically: if you're within one album, forward/back will choose the next/previous TRACK. If you're in general album view, forward/back will choose the next/previous ALBUM. So you can either listen to the tracks of one album and then get up and pick another one. Or you can pick any album, but have to listen to the whole thing, or get up to switch tracks. I guess the easiest solution is to have playlists for every occasion, but I like to browse...
Playback-wise there is no problem, Home Sharing works fine once you have it set up. The stream will be in the original bitrate, and my connected DacMagic100 switches accordingly.
However just using basic functions will lock it up!! I can reliably induce the following within a couple of minutes:
Press Play/Pause a couple of times. The right LED which usually blinks when receiving an IR signal turns off completely and indefinitely. The left LED (power) is still at full brightness, i.e. not in standby. The iPad -instantly- goes into suspend. As I found out later, this actually happens with -any- key presses.
Sometimes by pressing keys a few more times the dock will recover and the iPad turns on again as well. Sometimes I have to remove the iPad for things to return to normal.
Using the iPod Classic or Nano in the same dock has -never- resulted in the above symptoms, only the iPad3 so I would think the dock itself is not faulty.
I would be interested in anybody else's experience with any iPad model!
I figured that I had old firmware still installed in my Brand new dock but when I checked the 'about' area of the menu it is certainly version 1.5.3.
When using my iPod the remote works really well. I can scroll up and down through albums and access songs with relative ease. But with then ipad plugged in I cannot select an album. I have to do that via the iPad and then I can use the remote to select backwards, forwards, play and pause only.
I agree with your comments about the unit also locking up.
I might also send an email to Cambridge and see what they say.
I still love this dock though. Sound quality it certainly very nice with my rig.
I would encourage you to do that, the more people contact CA the more it's likely they'll do something about. Right now I get the impression they treat it as just a fluke of mine.
Here's the final word from CA I guess, since the support ticket hasn't been updated anymore for a couple of days:
- No mention of a firmware update, even when asked straight up,
- So no chance of wheel support on iPods: if they haven't done it up now, it's unlikely they'll get to it anytime soon.
- According to them, the iPad "is supported", even after describing my problems and clarifying that I'm not the only one. So the limited functionality is par for the course, and the issues I'm having apparently a defect of my unit and I should return it to the vendor. AA is unlikely to contribute anything more, maybe replace the unit if they feel nice, but it's unlikely the replacement will act any different.
The bottom line is that iPad support on the current docks (not just the iD100) is so limited that it's just not worth it. What's more annoying is the incomplete support even for iPods, while the i-20 at approx. 1/3 the price does, while delivering the same data to the same ports just as well.
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I've had the iD100 since the end of September and have had nothing but problems. The major issue is it will not dock with the iPhone 4 or iPod Classic (160gb) reliably. In fact, I estimate a connect success rate of less than 20%, two tries out of 10...maybe if I'm lucky. Constant fiddling and shifting to try and make connection. It will not connect to my IPad 3 whatsoever. I called Audio Advisor and they referred me to the CA authorized repair agent only, they want no part of it. It is now with CA's repair facility in Canada awaiting a determination as to the trouble. The Apple connector is weak and I suspect a mechanical problem or loose internal connection. Of course, if it does not connect you can not determine the firmware version..."catch 22" if you are trying to determine the problem with an iPad. I would suggest not docking the iPad, it is too large, heavy and awkward for this dock. CableJive makes a strait through male/female cable and I suggest using it to prevent connector damage from repeated dockings. This cable works 100% with the Pure i20 and will most likely with the iD100 when they return the repaired (optimistic?) unit. Although nicely built, this does no good if it does not work. An expensive item compared to the i20 and at this point not recommended.
I have used 2 dock extenders, one some generic brand via Amazon, works fine but was a bit short, and more recently a 6" one from CableJive, also works fine, on either the iD100 or i-20. This way I get the full iPad interface and instant access to my most up-to-date library via Home Sharing, rather than the extremely limited remote control interface, albeit at the cost of tethering.
It seems that your dock may have issues indeed, since I have never had issues connecting my iPod Classic or Nano. If you managed to get any iDevice connected, even rarely, all will show you the iD100's properties (i.e. firmware version) in their respective About menu. I think maybe yours was an older version indeed. Well, they can take care of it, let us know how it works out in the end!
Also thanks for letting all of us know about AA's handling of CA gear (which is not at all) I suspected as much. I guess within its limitations the iD100 works OK when not defective but, despite the nice hardware, it's hard to justify its price tag with the current firmware issues...