Originally Posted by yeongman
Haha! Agreed on the UI. I've been using the AK120 and the X5 and I still like Apple's UI the most. The attention to detail that they have is just amazing. (that and the fact that they've had years to brainwash/re-program me)
I'm quite curious though, if a DAC is connected to a player's line out, be it an ipod or a cowon or iriver etc, does it directly bypass the player's internal DAC section?
If it does, wouldn't that mean that any digital player would be fine as long as I have a good DAC?
A line-out is AFTER the player's internal DAC and outputs an analog signal, only bypassing the internal amp. So if you are using a Line Out, you need an amp downstream, not a DAC. And this isnt necessarily a bad thing - the Apple DAC does a very competent job and may actually be cleaner than some of the USB-powered ultra-small DACs (just b/c it is a separate device doesnt mean it is better). Ill suggest you try to do an A/B with an open mind before making a decision.
To bypass an Apple device's internal DAC, there are 2 ways to go about it:
1/ One is to use a MFi certified device such as a Cypherlabs unit, a Ceentrance M8 or more - this will work with both the 30-pin connected and the Lightning connection and allows the device to bypass the Apple unit's internal DAC and amp
2/ Use an iDevice that runs OS 7.x and attach a CCK to it (this is a Lighting to female USB, with a chip inside) - then connect this to a DAC/amp via USB. This is somewhat clunkier, as the CCK cable isnt the tidiest for pocket use, and also requires that the DAC/amp does not draw too much of a charging current from its USB port (esp as most devices charge and transmit data through their USB-in). If your device does, then you have to use a USB hub in between - at which point, you've pretty much lost the whole "portable" concept. One device that does work well in this application is the Apex Glacier - it has 2 USB ports, one for charging, and one for data+charging (the charging can be disabled on this one, allowing you to use it with an iDevice).
Having spent the money on the Apex Glacier, I kinda regret it. It is a nice enough device and one benefit is that I can use it as a DAC/amp for my laptop as well, if i so choose. But as far as iPod Touch + Glacier bricks go, it isnt pocketable, b/c the headphone cable comes out of one end, and the CCK/USB bit is in the other. I am always hesitant about chucking this in my pocket, for fear of damaging the connections inside the cable.
Hope this helps.