I feel like I have to be missing something. I need something to extract the digital bitstream from my Classic when I'm on the go, but the only thing I can think of that does it effectively is the HP-P1. Is there a standalone DAC (or an integrated DAC/amp that'll power the Mad Dog and Alpha Dog well) that works correctly with an iPod, preferably at or below the HP-P1's price point? I have an i20 at home, but I need something to strap to the Classic to run around town.
I Need a Portable DAC/Amp Combo for iPod That's Not an HP-P1 and Not $1K
Gear mentioned in this thread:
If you are using an iPod Classic, you may want to consider the JDS Labs C5 amp + LOD (such as Fiio L9). This will bypass the amp on the iPod. I don't believe that there is any point to a having a DAC with a Classic as it is not capable of digital output through the LOD. You may want to get someone else to confirm this, but I am pretty sure it is correct. I am using iPod Classic 7G 160 Gb > Fiio L9 LOD > C5 > Shure SE535...very sweet indeed, and not a bank breaker. Also a good size match with the iPod.
I already use an LOD to my portable amps as it is. Is the external-only amplification a feature that's unique to the C5, or will any portable amp do that from an LOD on the Classic?
Excuse my almost complete lack of knowledge when it comes to portable setups. I've almost always listened from home and at work.
I'm not sure exactly which model of iPod Classic you have, but some versions of the Classic are compatible with the "iDevice" version of the Centrance HiFi M8. I have one of the non iDevice versions, and it is the best sounding portable DAC/amp that I have used. It has adjustable bass, treble, gain, and impedence controls.
The M8 doesn't have an analog input, so it's DAC section is always used.
Try posting over in one of the HiFi M8 threads for more information if you're interested. One of the folks using the M8 with an Apple device will know. It can power nearly any headphone out there. It even works well with IEMs, although there may be a slight amount of hiss (that happens with my Sony XBA-3s, but it isn't noticeable when music is playing).
It is sold out currently at the Centrance website, but you may be able to find it through other vendors online.
I knew about the M8 and I've read a few of its reviews, but I didn't know that it was only $700. I thought it was somewhere around $1.1K, so I hadn't really considered it. I'll see if the sound signature will fit my needs, and whether it works correctly with my (7th-gen) Classic.
Each of us has a unique "price to value" valuation system when it comes to deciding if it is worth spending a certain amount on a piece of gear, but I really feel that the M8 offers an incredible value. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed with how it sounds. There's a reason why CEntrance is struggling to keep it in stock.
According to the information I received from JDS before purchasing my C5, the iPod Classic 7G is not capable of digital output. They specifically stated that the C5 amplifier was a better choice over the C5D DAC/amp combo unit since the analog only output of the Classic would not have take advantage of the DAC built nto the C5D. I would presume, therefore, that unless you want a DAC/amp unit for future DAP's that are capable of digital output, any DAC/amp combo unit will only be functioning as an amp when an LOD is used with and iPod Classic. The CEntrance HiFi M8 is a DAC/amp unit, and while they show a photo of the Classic on their website, I believe only the amp portion of the M8 will be used.
If you are interested in the M8, you may want to ask this specific question to CEntrance and see what they say. The guys at JDS were very responsive to my questions and seemed knowledgeable. That is all I really have to go on. None the less, I am very pleased with the JDS > Classic combo. I will add, however, that to my ears, the biggest single improvement in SQ was when I upgraded from the SE215 to 535's.
The Classic is my choice for portable source gear, but let's face it...it ain't exactly new technology.