how good is the iPod Touch line out?
Aug 4, 2008 at 3:53 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4


100+ Head-Fier
Jun 2, 2002
Thinking of setting up a small listening station in my house and my 2nd gen iPod isn't going to cut it because it has no line out. Was thinking this might be the excuse I need to upgrade to a shiny new iPod touch- but is it going to be good enough considering the source media I have and the amps I am looking at?

Using the iPod touch's analog output makes the cost of setting up such a system cheaper because I don't need to worry about getting a DAC, or getting a digital out source- both of which can be bulky (looking for very low-key, compact systems here- both for space and aesthetic concerns) and also very expensive. There also will not be a computer near the setup, so connecting direct to a computer is not possible save using expensive and specialized wireless devices a'la the Squeezebox.

The amps I have been considering are either the Gilmore Lite + DPS or the Headroom Ultra Micro. The Glite + DPS is a little sexier (
) and slightly cheaper, but the Ultra Micro has the option of upgrading later to a matching DAC. I tend to speculate wild-assedly that the Ultra Micro has more potential as an amp but I really have no basis for that, and am trying to find out if anyone has any advice on that too.

Headphones wise, I am thinking either the HD650 or AKG K701. I like a really detailed sound such as I have with my current Ety 4P but would like to get a little more bass. Not looking for emphasized bass but I feel the Etys have bass that is de-emphasized and I'd like something with a little more power on the bottom end. The bass is there on the Etys, and I can hear it (nice and tight)- but I have to listen for it. The KSC35s I own though present the bass to me such that I don't need effort to hear the bass. Does that make any sense?

My source media is all mp3 files ripped with EAC and encoded in LAME using -alt preset extreme. The rest is VBR files averaging probably around 225kbps. On my current gear (Ety ER-4P and 2nd gen iPod or laptop as source) I can't hear the difference between these MP3s and the original CDs.

With the setup I propose, would using the iPod touch's line out be a good match source wise? I like it because
a) it integrates nicely into iTunes as I am a mac user
b) nifty wireless features that I would have fun with using my ipod touch elsewhere other than in the listening station
c) I can get the dock with the remote for it and have a good way to control the music (changing tracks, selecting albums, etc) while sitting in my seat and leaving the ipod touch plugged into the system. Saves me from having to lean up to the ipod touch in its dock and fiddle with it that way.
d) possibility for the ultimate upgrade to the dream setup of having an Airport express doing digital out to a DAC controlled remotely by the ipod touch and its "remote" application- all keeping in the low key theme of the system as the only bulk going digital would add is a small Airport express unit and a DAC. Remember the remote control ability would be nice because running Airtunes will require a host computer to transmit the sound to the airport express but there will be no computer near the setup to easily change tracks/albums.

Is the line out of the iPod classics different or better than the touch? What about tracking down an older 4th gen and doing the iMod on it? Is it that much better? The iMod is a little out of my price range- are there cheaper alternatives?

Aug 4, 2008 at 3:53 PM Post #2 of 4

Originally Posted by Ruahrc /img/forum/go_quote.gif
With the setup I propose, would using the iPod touch's line out be a good match source wise?

Yes, if you are planning on using compressed files, it should be more than adequate. However, if you are not going to use a portable amp, then you should get a DAC instead of a DAP and run lossless from USB for better performance. As a mac user, you should also investigate the Apogee Duet.

If you are considering a stationary "listening station", then you don't need a portable source. You could continue to use your iPod as a portable device. A high-quality DAC is a much better match to the amps that you mention.


Originally Posted by Ruahrc /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Is the line out of the iPod classics different or better than the touch?

No, they should sound about the same in your setup. However, as you probably know, the Classic does not have the remote capability that you describe in (d).
Aug 4, 2008 at 6:26 PM Post #3 of 4
Unfortunately as I mentioned in my OP, there is not going to be a computer near the listening area so running USB to a DAC is not practical or not possible. And furthermore going to a digital source and running a DAC pretty much doubles the cost of equipment (if not more) and thus is not really within my budget at this time. Getting components now that can be later upgraded to digital capabilities (a'la the HR Ultra Micro and its separate DAC) is good, but I really don't think I can drop the 3K (or more) I'd need to really get a properly working digital system set up right now.

Am I correct in concluding that the Apogee Duet is basically an external firewire soundcard? Again this looks liek a good product but since there will not be a computer next to my headphones then it is of limited use. Do you propose that the Apogee Duet is all I would need to drive headphones, or that you still recommend amping it? If a headphone amp is still necessary, why should I buy a Duet instead of just getting a DAC and running USB or SPDIF to it? I have no use for its recording features as I do not produce music. And a DAC can run independent of a computer whereas it seems like the Duet is dependent on a computer to operate.

Aug 4, 2008 at 9:04 PM Post #4 of 4
I'm sorry that I missed the point about no computer in your original post. This makes all of the questions about a Duet irrelevant because it does need a computer to operate.

Your original question was "how good is the ipod touch line out"? The answer is: it is as good as any other portable player, but not as good as a home source with a better DAC. You will suffer some performance compromise by using lossy files on a mediocre DAC.

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