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Should I get an eternal DAC/amp for my 5th gen iPod?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hello All:

 

Thanks to the great information on this forum, I just acquired a pair of Weston pro 30 IEMs.  I am using them with my 5th gen iPod, and things sound very good.  But the more I poke around on our forums, the more I have begun to wonder about adding a portable DAC/amp to my setup.  I have also read that my particular iPod has quite a nice DAC, and more than enough power for IEMs (as opposed to headphones).  So I am wondering what people's opinions are.  Would there be a noticeable sound improvement if I added a reasonable priced (<$300) DAC/amp?  Or would it be negligible?

 

Most of my listening is while riding my motorcycle or working out; rarely am I in a pristine listening environment with little background noise.  I assume this enters into the analysis.

 

Thank you very much.

 

Nick

post #2 of 13

Save your money as adding an external amp/DAC to the iPod is not going to deliver the wow factor you may be looking at.

post #3 of 13

As far as I'm aware, adding a DAC and/or amplifier is something you do if you want to perfect the sound you already have and achieve the experience you want when sitting down and attentively listening to music. I can't imagine it'll be of any use to IEMs when working out, even for a good pair like the Westone's. The sound would improve slightly, but is it worth it? I don't know. I'm new to the game.

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you, NA.

 

Would adding Rockbox (which I believe to be in this same price range) be advised for better sound quality?  Or is it likewise not much bang for the buck?

 

Nick

post #5 of 13
DAC/amp is not worth the money or the hassle. If you were listening at home, an amp would help a little.
Edited by Claritas - 3/13/14 at 12:44pm
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas B View Post
 

Hello All:

 

Thanks to the great information on this forum, I just acquired a pair of Weston pro 30 IEMs.  I am using them with my 5th gen iPod, and things sound very good.  But the more I poke around on our forums, the more I have begun to wonder about adding a portable DAC/amp to my setup.  I have also read that my particular iPod has quite a nice DAC, and more than enough power for IEMs (as opposed to headphones).  So I am wondering what people's opinions are.  Would there be a noticeable sound improvement if I added a reasonable priced (<$300) DAC/amp?  Or would it be negligible?

 

Most of my listening is while riding my motorcycle or working out; rarely am I in a pristine listening environment with little background noise.  I assume this enters into the analysis.

 

Thank you very much.

 

Nick


As a motorcycle rider myself, I find it deeply disturbing that someone would plug their ears with IEMs while riding, effectively eliminating ALL external sound feedback. That is not a rational decision to make, IMO.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

I am sorry I disturbed you so deeply.  I have been riding with music for many years and find that I am still able to hear what I need to hear above the music.  Perhaps this is because I am cautious and do not crank it.  As you have no doubt experienced, wind noise is very loud without hearing protection..  Hopefully you wear hearing protection, as I do.  I do not finding adding music to the equation problematic.

 

Nick

post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post

DAC/amp is not worth the money or the hassle. If you were listening at home, an amp would help a little.

I hate the hassle, too. Something else to charge and carry. The only thing I find a portable dac/amp useful for is with my laptop since it easily fits in the bag.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I hate the hassle, too. Something else to charge and carry. The only thing I find a portable dac/amp useful for is with my laptop since it easily fits in the bag.

 

Yeah, I don't understand stacking portables. I use the O2 at home with a CD player (or iPod). Maybe I should get a better soundcard for my laptop, though I have an Nvidia.

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post

Yeah, I don't understand stacking portables. I use the O2 at home with a CD player (or iPod). Maybe I should get a better soundcard for my laptop, though I have an Nvidia.

The new Dragonfly v1.2 looks pretty nice for laptop use. Or even the old Dragonfly for it's closeout of $100.
post #11 of 13

As far as the iPod having a "nice DAC," most of what I've read is that the newer the generation, the worse the DAC, and while I'm no golden-eared expert, I can say that the output from my iPod and -Pad through a simple Pure i20 dock/DAC/digital out passthrough device is very noticeably better than through a line-out dock (LOD) to an amp. I noticed the difference on the very first song I listened to. It's that much better.

 

 But as far as for riding/workout purposes, any gain you get in sound quality would likely be wiped out by external noise, even with IEMs. Wind and road noise is going to take away any nuance gained, and the Westones are efficient enough that an iPod should be able to drive it to a high enough level to listen. And an amp might tempt you to crank things up to dangerous levels (to your ears). 

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post
 

Save your money as adding an external amp/DAC to the iPod is not going to deliver the wow factor you may be looking at.

 

I cannot disagree with this enough.  

 

I have a whole bunch of portable players - iPod Classic, iPod Touch, DX50, X3 and AK100 - and my portable reference rig is an iPod Classic paired with a CLAS -R and Continental V3.   

 

Not only that, the direct out from a iPod is plenty good, especially if you are using it with headphones that match it (ie, no LCD2s).   Adding an external DAC makes a very small improvement - IMO, the biggest reason for doing so is so that you have a clean line out which can then be amplifier, letting you use a wider selection of headphones.     

 

OP, in your case, given your listening environment, dont bother with either an external DAC/amp, or changing the source.   The marginal gains you'll get in improved audio performance will be wasted in your listening environment.    Dont fall for the hype that you read on Head-Fi - there are a lot of naked emperors being applauded for their new clothes here.    

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

Gentlemen:

 

Your responses are why this forum is the gold standard.  The relentless pursuit of perfection and the love of technology is what we seem to have in common.  But I will leave well enough alone.  Thank you all very much for your time and opinions.

 

Nick

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