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[Impression] Apple Nano 7G + Lightning-to-30pin adapter

post #1 of 108
Thread Starter 

It seems the Apple’s focus these days is more on iPhone and iPod Touch, but much less so on the other iPod line. I have been looking for a decent small DAP for a while now as my Fuze and C30 have started to show some age. The new Nano comes in just the right time as it has pretty much all the features I am looking for, particularly the support of Bluetooth since I am spending quite some time on BT headset these days. Anyway, I have been playing around with the new Nano 7 for a couple of weeks now so I thought I’ll post a quick impression in case anyone is interested.

Nano7-01.jpg
Not my first choice of color, but beats pink or a week of waiting.

Spec
Screen: 2.5inch wide-screen multi-touch LCD
Resolution: 432 x 240
Connection: Headphone-out and Lightning connector
Buttons: Volume control, Play/Pause, On/Off (sleep/wake), Home
Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
Audio Format: AAC, Protected AAC, HE-AAC, MP3, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
Video Format: H.264 and MPEG-4
FM Radio: Region selectable and Live Pause
Max volume limit selectable
Battery Life: 30hrs music or 3.5hrs video
Accelerometer supported
VoiceOver supported
Headphone: Earpods, no mic+remote version
Size: 76.5 x 39.6 x 5.4mm
Weight: 31g
Capacity: 16G
Nike+ Supported
Bluetooth 4 supported

Nano7-02.jpg

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality
It is from Apple, so packaging is, as always, minimalistic in a good way. Build quality is of course excellent as well. Though it is almost twice as wide as Nano 6, it still feels incredibly small and light in the hand. Getting more physical buttons is definitely a plus in my book. The shirt clip is gone, but slim case with clip can be found easily from eBay so that it is not a big deal.

Accessories wise, there are the earpods and the new Lightning sync and charge USB cable. As always, I don’t understand why Apple won’t just include the normal mic+remote version of earpods (which you will need for voice memo), but instead always pack Nano with the mic+remote-less version of the stock earphone. The sound quality of earpods isn’t too shabby, but not exactly top-end either (see my review here). The new Lightning connector has Apple’s own MFi chip inside for authentication, but it has been cracked (partially) so you can use aftermarket Lightning cable from eBay as well.

Nano7-04.jpg
From left: headphone jack, BT antenna (under white plastic cover) and Lightning dock. Home button on the top.

Nano7-05.jpg
Volume control and play/pause button

Nano7-06.jpg
Sleep / power button

Nano7-07.jpg

Navigation and Features
Most of the navigation is touch screen based, the addition of physical buttons is quite beneficial, especially when you have to play / pause music with the DAP in the pocket. However, you can also control all these function using the touch screen alone.

Nano7-03.jpg

The screen is absolutely sharp and the viewable angle is very wide as well. It is almost twice as big as Nano 6 and about 20~30% larger than Nano 4/5, making video an overall better experience. The accelerometer help to flip the screen around, but unfortunately that seems to be its only real function besides using it to shuffle songs. Would have been nice if it supports some basic games like the Nano 4.

I was able to connect the Nano 7 to Sony MW1 (reviewed here) as a BT wireless setup and control playback and volume using the BT headset. SQ is almost as good as wired earphone. Though I haven’t tried to pair it with car stereo, I would think it should work just as well.

Nano7-09.jpg
Nano 7 paired with MW1

Sound Quality
Measurement wise, frequency response looks very flat on the RMAA with only a very minor 0.5dB roll-off from 10kHz to 20kHz. Noise and dynamic range looks excellent as well. While stereo crosstalk does worsen with a 16ohm load (which is normal), it is still very respectable at <-60dB. Power into a 47ohm fixed (1kHs test tone, same procedure that I used for amp testing) looks good, and power drop (also from amp testing) from 47ohm to 23.5ohm is a mere 6%, showing a good sign of current supply. Output impedance is measured and calculated at 1.1ohm, lower than Nano 4/5/6. Maximum headphone-out voltage is measured at almost 1.9Vrms – high enough to even clip the O2’s input and almost 0.9V higher than Nano 4. Overall, all the basic measurement points to a fairly capable DAP.

As far as subjective listening goes, I have to say Nano 7 is a noticeable improvement from old Nano 4. After A/Bing with Sansa Fuze, my conclusion is, for most parts, Nano 7 sounds as good as Fuze (and Clip+ as well). The only time when Nano 7 doesn’t sound quite as tight is with very low impedance IEM such as the 8ohm XBA-4, where Fuze still maintains very tight bass impact and speed while Nano 7 starts to show sign of sloppy bass hit. For the majority of IEM I have used for the A/Bing however, it is really hard pressed to tell any difference between Nano 7 and Fuze on the same music. The one area where Nano 7 really shines is on raw volume output, where Fuze is max out at only 0.55Vrms.

Nano7-10.jpg
Two versions of Lightning to 30 pins adapter next to FiiO's L1 and Nano 7.

Nano7-11.jpg
Getting the LO signal with Lightning adapter and FiiO L1.

Lightning to 30-pin Adapter
With the new all digital Lightning connector, there is no longer any analog line-out on the dock connection anymore. I do however acquire both the cable and the dock version of the ‘Lightning to 30 pin adapter’ for use with my older iPod dock accessories as well as to investigate whether it will be beneficial to use the line-out signal generated in the Lightning adapter or not – this is mainly to determine whether a ‘Nano 7 – adapter – LOD –amp’ setup is sensible or not, or whether I should just double amp Nano 7 when more power is needed.

First of, both versions of the adapter measured identically in RMAA, and pretty much sounds identical as well. So the assumption is that both have the same hardware, especially the DAC (a Wolfson WM8533). The line-out is measured at 0.95Vrms, which is slightly higher than the Nano 4’s 0.82Vrms.

The RMAA result on the adapter looks very clean and rather good, indicating that the Wolfson DAC inside the adapter is as good as the Nano 7 internal DAC. But the catch is that it isn’t much better when compared to Nano 7 headphone-out without load (as used in double amping). In fact, Nano 7 headphone-out offers better channel separation. Further A/Bing also confirms that the line-out really doesn’t sound audibly better than just double amp the headphone-out. So the conclusion is, there is really no need to use the adapter for its line-out on a portable setup. You will be just as good with double amping. To do so, just adjust the volume to max then drop to three steps lower, which should give you almost the same voltage (0.94Vrms) as line-out and shouldn’t clip your portable amp.

 

[UPDATE] Not sure those of you who own a Nano 7G will be happy to hear this: I recently update my Nano 7G from the original firmware (v1.0.1) to the latest v1.0.2, and find out the maximum volume output has been lower from the original 1.9Vrms to 0.96Vrms - which is about the same level as Nano 4G's line-out and the line-out from Lightning-to-30pins connector. Consequentially, the original recommendation of lowering the headphone-out three steps down for double amping has become invalid. Instead, you should go with a full volume for double amping.


Nano7-08.jpg
Size comparison (from left): Nano 7, Nano 4, Sansa Fuze and Sansa Clip+

Verdict
Despite my deep hate for iTune, I have to say Nano 7 has fulfilled my quest for a small, good sounding DAP as a Fuze’s replacement. I have the latest beta version of MediaMonkey (4.0.7) installed so I don’t have to deal with iTune anymore, and the Bluetooth support is a big plus on my own application. But even as a basic, on-the-go music player, I can say I am more than happy with its overall performance. Unlike Nano 4 that is decent but nothing spectacular, the new Nano 7 is a keeper in my book.


Edited by ClieOS - 10/7/13 at 9:39am
post #2 of 108
Thanks a lot for your detailed impressions on the Nano and the Lightning Dac.

It seems that Apple rolled out pretty strong sounding idevices on 2012 (Touch 5, Nano 7 and iPad 3).

Strangely enough iPhone 5 is the worst output impedance wise (clocking at 3.3 ohms is respectable but higher than the rest of the line up).


You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother
post #3 of 108

Yeah - the nano is a good player.

 

 

700

 

I've enjoyed it a lot this past month - I especially like how I don't even have to turn the screen on to use the player. Most of my files are organised by playlists and folders and I can just use the buttons on the side or those on my iems... This way, I'm getting more than 30 hours battery life.

post #4 of 108
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elfary View Post

Thanks a lot for your detailed impressions on the Nano and the Lightning Dac.
It seems that Apple rolled out pretty strong sounding idevices on 2012 (Touch 5, Nano 7 and iPad 3).
Strangely enough iPhone 5 is the worst output impedance wise (clocking at 3.3 ohms is respectable but higher than the rest of the line up).
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother

Unfortunately it would seems Apple is also moving more and more away from pure audio devices as well. But I guess that's the industry trend
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamnine View Post

I've enjoyed it a lot this past month - I especially like how I don't even have to turn the screen on to use the player. Most of my files are organised by playlists and folders and I can just use the buttons on the side or those on my iems... This way, I'm getting more than 30 hours battery life.

Yep, those buttons do complement the touch screen very well.
post #5 of 108
I read your review and ran to a local store to get one, seriously biggrin.gif I was looking for a DAP and couldn't find any decent ones where I live. I really like how small and light it is, and paired with my GR07... good Lord, the sounds is heavenly smily_headphones1.gif
post #6 of 108
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alez View Post

I read your review and ran to a local store to get one, seriously biggrin.gif I was looking for a DAP and couldn't find any decent ones where I live. I really like how small and light it is, and paired with my GR07... good Lord, the sounds is heavenly smily_headphones1.gif

Enjoy biggrin.gif
post #7 of 108

Thanks for the review.

 

Is it bluetooth 4.0 with Apt-X ClieOS?

post #8 of 108
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NZtechfreak View Post

Thanks for the review.

Is it bluetooth 4.0 with Apt-X ClieOS?

No, BTv4 doesn't equal apt-X.

apt-X is itself a codec, like mp3, aac or wma, but is designed to work with wireless transmission instead of file compression. As far as I know, none of Apple mobile products have apt-X support.
post #9 of 108
iPod Nano 3's output impedance? Anyone knows it? smily_headphones1.gif
post #10 of 108

My experience was opposite with the Nano 7G. Bought it last week and went the next day to return.

 

The product itself is okay. The size and the screen fit perfectly, but what's new besides that? Nothing. They keep changing the looks, but Apple basically dropped the ball on it. The music settings lack adjustments as previous gen Nano's. It didn't offered anything new over my 4G nano instead it went down in terms of sound quality. The soundstage of the 7G Nano is narrowed and the volume is reduced. After playing for an hour I've had no more concerns, but to return it. It's more like a $80 product, but not a $150.

post #11 of 108
Thread Starter 
Volume is reduced? I pretty sure Nano 7G can go much louder than Nano 4G as I have measured both. The only possible reason for Nano 4G to have louder max volume is that the volume limiter in your Nano 7G has been activated accidentally (or not, I will imagine EU unit must have some volume limitation as requested by law).
post #12 of 108

On the EU version there is a dedicated button in settings allowing you to enable/disable the EU Volume Limit - first time I've seen that... I left mine alone.

 

The 7G is a good device, better than the 6G in terms of buttons, battery life and bluetooth 4, plus it's half the size of a Clip Zip.

 

 

1000


Edited by Dreamnine - 11/12/12 at 1:01pm
post #13 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post


No, BTv4 doesn't equal apt-X.
apt-X is itself a codec, like mp3, aac or wma, but is designed to work with wireless transmission instead of file compression. As far as I know, none of Apple mobile products have apt-X support.

 

Hi ClieOS. Yes, I am aware BT 4.0 and Apt-X are not synonymous, that's why I asked :)

 

The iPad 3 has Apt-X, but that is the only Apple non-computing product I am aware of that has it.

 

Ah well, no Apt-X means nothing for me to see here.

post #14 of 108
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamnine View Post

On the EU version there is a dedicated button in settings allowing you to enable/disable the EU Volume Limit - first time I've seen that... I left mine alone.

The 7G is a good device, better than the 6G in terms of buttons, battery life and bluetooth 4, plus it's half the size of a Clip Zip.

Both my Nano 4 and 7 are on Asia firmware, so no volume limiter whatsoever biggrin.gif

I actually think Nano 7 and Clip+ are about the same size though. Nano 7 is slimmer but wider, CLip+ is shorter and fatter. Volume wise, I think they are more or less right in the same ballpark.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NZtechfreak View Post

Ah well, no Apt-X means nothing for me to see here.

You might be surprised at how good non-apt-X device can sound like if the A2DP profile is implemented correctly. I have been listening to Sony MW1 (BTv3, no apt-X) for a while now and seriously can't tell it apart from a wired headphone.
post #15 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post


Both my Nano 4 and 7 are on Asia firmware, so no volume limiter whatsoever biggrin.gif
I actually think Nano 7 and Clip+ are about the same size though. Nano 7 is slimmer but wider, CLip+ is shorter and fatter. Volume wise, I think they are more or less right in the same ballpark.
You might be surprised at how good non-apt-X device can sound like if the A2DP profile is implemented correctly. I have been listening to Sony MW1 (BTv3, no apt-X) for a while now and seriously can't tell it apart from a wired headphone.

 

I found streaming FLAC files to non-Apt-X receivers tended to make things a mess, whereas Apt-X receivers can manage it fine (BT 4.0 increases the audio streaming bandwidth compared to older iterations of the bluetooth specification though, may be enough on it's own even without Apt-X). If I get a chance to try it I will check it out.

 

I only maintain my collection in FLAC these days, got tired of maintaining a 'mobile-friendly' collection as well, so anything utilising BT has to be able to stream FLAC for it to be useful for me personally.


Edited by NZtechfreak - 11/12/12 at 7:25pm
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