iPod, DAC options?? Portability?? HELP! :P
Nov 26, 2008 at 3:00 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

Malakei

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Hey guys,

Recently caved and bought an iPod full well knowing thier audio quality is not up to snuff. So, that being said, is the Wadia iTransport the only way to properly bypass the iPod DAC so that you may properly convert to analog via a descent DAC. Also, i have a few questions about LODs etc for regular ipods. Is there any point to a LOD for a regular ipod? Since the DAC is still done internally, would the only reason for a LOD on a stock ipod be to accomodate high ohmage cans?? Just a bit overwhelmed at the amount of LODs for ipods on here and i know most people havent shelled out the money to have them imodded or diymodded.

Basically Im trying to see if im stuck with this terrible audio quality from my ipod. Even with apple lossless converted from my FLACs i used to play on my x5 the quality difference is still very noticeable between the x5 and ipod. If its going to cost me 379 for the wadia iTransport plus additional money for a dac, i suppose i could use a dac from some of my equipment but that would only help for home use.

Is there any way to get the ipod with a seperate dac portable? I think this can be accomplished with an iMod and a portable dac/amp. Curious wether or not it can be accomplished similarly with a stock ipod however. I have a 6gen 120gig.

Maybe i could steal the DAC from my x5? :p

Ideas?? Costs??
 
Nov 26, 2008 at 3:15 AM Post #2 of 12

PouncePony

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Which IPod do you own?

What level of audio quality would you like to achieve?

What headphones/earphones will you be using?

How portable does you complete rig need to be?

You are not going to get a digital signal from you IPod. The line-out provides a good quality analog signal. Match it with a good portable amp (check out the portable amp section of this forum) and you are on your way.

-Pony
 
Nov 26, 2008 at 4:28 AM Post #3 of 12

Spadge

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Hi there,

I'm pretty sure that the Wadia is the only current way to get a digital signal out of an iPod. Certainly a long way from being a portable solution!!

As for the LOD... In my opinion it is definately worth getting an LOD and hooking it up to a portable amp. To my ears, the difference between that an using the headphone out is quite large (with the LOD output winning of course).

I've never heard an X5 before but perhaps you just prefer the sound signature that comes out of it? I don't think the DAC in the ipod is terrible (especially for a portable) and once you bypass the internal amp with the LOD you can get some pretty decent sound out of it (again, considering it's portable)

Good luck
Paul
 
Nov 26, 2008 at 5:30 AM Post #4 of 12

hypoicon

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There have been quite a few "ipods sound terrible" threads the last few days and I am really confused. I have had a 3g ipod for years, and recently got a touch-- they have sounded fine to me, other than the obvious limitations of mp3 files. I suspect that it is as Spadge implied, a matter of preferring a different sort of "sound signature," i.e. artifically bloated bass or depressed mids to the relatively "normal" sound that comes out of a stock ipod. If that's the case, no amount of fussing with magic wires will change that.

Switching to the 2g touch with lossless files, I find that there is very little difference with an outboard amp (an Ibasso D3) and no amp through Head Direct RE-2s. Yes, there's a little more bottom end extension with the amp but not that much given the added bulk. I just ordered some Shure 530s and will probably resort to the amp only rarely for portable use in the future.

On the other hand, I also use the same device with a Wadia 170 dock, Little Dot MK III, PS Audio Digital Link III and Grado RS-1s. Yes, it sounds much better that way. But it is by no means "unlistenable" straight out of the jack. In fact, the overall balance between all these different configurations is surprisingly close given the massive difference in cost. But I prefer my music to be relatively unaltered by the boxes I feed it through.

In the end, it's really a matter of taste.
 
Nov 26, 2008 at 6:08 PM Post #5 of 12

Malakei

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All the inputs are definately valuable here. So ill try to answer all 3 in order.

To pouncepony:

1. I own the 6th gen iPod classic 120gb
2. Looking to get the best sound i can without spending over 500 in improvements
3. The main cans I use day to day are the AKG 240S, Alessandro MS-1s and UE SuperFi 3s [superfi 3s pretty much suck as far as SQ goes but i feel ripped off spending several hundreds on IEMs aside from the customs]
4. Portability wise, id love to have complete portability but i know thats not going to happen, but id be happy with a rig i can bring into my car with me and plug into the AUX rca jacks that can sit tidily in the dash or the glove.
Hope that answers some ?s

Spadge - I was afraid you would say that. I wish there were a cheaper and more portable way to do this, i dont get why people have dac/amp combos for their ipods then. as for the x5, it simply has a quieter noise floor, superior bass control, and a better soundstage with more realistic seperation. At least IMO. However the presentation, GUI and other things that do not affect the sound but the ease of use and such would definately go to the ipod which ive become very fond of in that way. only thing i find i find that sucks about ipods are the SQ and iTunes and thats only certain aspects of itunes such as not being able to refresh the music library after altering. You actualy have to shut down and reopen itunes for changes to come into affect.

Hypoicon - firstly, i want you home system *drool* but that must have set you back nearly as much if not more then a quality 2ch speaker system would. I find that hard to swallow for the poketbook but i suppose if you dont have that 2ch system already it seems much more reasonable. As for the claims about sound sigs etc, i find the ipod to have very very poor bass response and i dont mean non existent i mean it becomes poor quality even with the best of cans. Mid wise and even high wise i find the ipod is generally fine and very listenable but the low end kills me. There is no appropriate volume to listen at on an ipod where it sounds present and controlled. Least not from the HPO. Now, i havent tried it through a LOD and amp which i will try and it may be enough to make it "listenable" so i may not need to go to a wadia dac combo to get what i want but distortion and noise is something i cant stand and quite honestly the stock ipod through the hpo with any of the 3 cans i listed is not up to snuff. IMO.
 
Nov 26, 2008 at 7:02 PM Post #6 of 12

hypoicon

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Currently, I'm living in an apartment. About a year ago, I simply packed up my 2ch system and stored it. There was no way, in close quarters, to listen to music at anything approaching a realistic level. That's why I decided to make an investment into a quality headphone system.

I come from the vinyl age. I've always hated digital audio, mostly. What the difference is, as far as I'm concerned, is the nuances of sound decay-- the echo that fades out after the primary sounds. It is nonexistant in most digital recordings, making the sound brittle and shrill. All the talk about differences in bass in digital devices seems really displaced-- bass waveforms are simpler and easier to reproduce, needing mainly an adequate amount of driver surface area and power to generate an adequate experience. For that reason, if bass is a primary concern I would suggest that using headphones at all is simply a bad idea. Buy speakers, especially those with a pronounced mid-bass hump that trick most people into thinking they are hearing "bass." I dislike terms such as "slam" simply because I do not want to be "slammed" I want to hear sounds that are lifelike. True bass isn't even something you hear-- it is something you feel. Not practical with headphones in the first place.

That said, I want voices to sound like voices and guitars (particularly acoustic ones) to sound like guitars. I don't want music to beat me senseless. Artificial bass boosts meant to make headphones sound more like speakers seem to be downright silly.

My point of reference, bass wise, was a pair of AR-9s I owned years ago, not the current "thumpers" popular (particularly in home theater). I simply see no point in asking a headphone to reproduce that sort of experience. Particularly in single-driver headphones, the greater the peaks in the bass the more the critical mid and high frequencies that give music its "liveness' get modulated. I just ordered a set of Shure 530s to see if the bass presence is better in a multiple driver phone.

I remain radically unconvinced that DACs differ very much at all in their ability to reproduce bass signals. They do however differ in their handling of mid frequencies, and the soundstage of the ipod is improved a hundred fold in the wadia setup. I don't have a turntable set up right now to do a meaningful comparison, but I would claim that the ipod sounds better as a digital device than my MacBook pro-- since I got the wadia, I haven't hooked back up to the computer.

I have never had high expectations for a portable set-up. Walking around, I don't appreciate the nuances between amped/unamped simply because of the psychological impacts of environment. In my car, I use my old ipod (with MP3s) routed through a car stereo-- I can't even really hear the difference between lossless and MP3s in that environment due to the road noise.

Audio is largely psychological, and we build up rationalizations for the purchases we make. I think my home set-up was worth every penny. I cannot see any point in auditioning hundreds of portables to see which mid-fi solution is the most "fi" of them all.

Tube amps frequently have double digit distortion and yet they still sound "best" compared to many solid state devices. Standards of "listenablity" are entirely personal, and frequently, in my opinion, rather silly.
 
Nov 28, 2008 at 10:59 PM Post #7 of 12

Malakei

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there is ample space ona headphone driver for bass reproduction. The problem is if the signal is not strong or it is sending signal that the HP just cant reproduce then it should not try to do so. I find ipods struggle to try and do in the low end what they simply cannot which is reproduce sub 50hz signals and in that attempt they ruin the rest of the music with the distorted farty garbage they call "bass"
 
Nov 30, 2008 at 2:46 AM Post #8 of 12

charliex

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Hi - my advice is to sell the 6g 120gb iPod and look for a 5.0 or better yet a 5.5 gen 80 gb iPod. They were the last of the iPods to use the superior Wolfson DAC (often used in high-end CD players). No need for a better DAC than the Wolfson. Your current 6g iPod has a low-end cirrus logic DAC. If you get a 5.5 gen, then get it iModded through redwineaudio or do it yourself via an iMod Super Cotton Dock Cable and a good headphone amp (a starter I liked was the Total BitHead because of the crossfeed function). And stick to lossless/WAV files as usual - good luck.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Malakei /img/forum/go_quote.gif
All the inputs are definately valuable here. So ill try to answer all 3 in order.

To pouncepony:

1. I own the 6th gen iPod classic 120gb
2. Looking to get the best sound i can without spending over 500 in improvements
3. The main cans I use day to day are the AKG 240S, Alessandro MS-1s and UE SuperFi 3s [superfi 3s pretty much suck as far as SQ goes but i feel ripped off spending several hundreds on IEMs aside from the customs]
4. Portability wise, id love to have complete portability but i know thats not going to happen, but id be happy with a rig i can bring into my car with me and plug into the AUX rca jacks that can sit tidily in the dash or the glove.
Hope that answers some ?s

Spadge - I was afraid you would say that. I wish there were a cheaper and more portable way to do this, i dont get why people have dac/amp combos for their ipods then. as for the x5, it simply has a quieter noise floor, superior bass control, and a better soundstage with more realistic seperation. At least IMO. However the presentation, GUI and other things that do not affect the sound but the ease of use and such would definately go to the ipod which ive become very fond of in that way. only thing i find i find that sucks about ipods are the SQ and iTunes and thats only certain aspects of itunes such as not being able to refresh the music library after altering. You actualy have to shut down and reopen itunes for changes to come into affect.

Hypoicon - firstly, i want you home system *drool* but that must have set you back nearly as much if not more then a quality 2ch speaker system would. I find that hard to swallow for the poketbook but i suppose if you dont have that 2ch system already it seems much more reasonable. As for the claims about sound sigs etc, i find the ipod to have very very poor bass response and i dont mean non existent i mean it becomes poor quality even with the best of cans. Mid wise and even high wise i find the ipod is generally fine and very listenable but the low end kills me. There is no appropriate volume to listen at on an ipod where it sounds present and controlled. Least not from the HPO. Now, i havent tried it through a LOD and amp which i will try and it may be enough to make it "listenable" so i may not need to go to a wadia dac combo to get what i want but distortion and noise is something i cant stand and quite honestly the stock ipod through the hpo with any of the 3 cans i listed is not up to snuff. IMO.



 
Nov 30, 2008 at 1:13 PM Post #9 of 12

qusp

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Quote:

Originally Posted by charliex /img/forum/go_quote.gif
.....[snip]. If you get a 5.5 gen, then get it iModded through redwineaudio or do it yourself via an iMod Super Cotton Dock Cable and a good headphone amp (a starter I liked was the Total BitHead because of the crossfeed function). And stick to lossless/WAV files as usual - good luck.[/snip]


ummm .... by the way you talk that you seem to think buying an IMOD dock and an amp makes your ipod an IMOD
confused_face(1).gif
your sig lists a 5.5G ipod with an IMOD cable. this is very confusing. just using an imod cable does not turn you ipod into an IMOD. In fact it would actually damage the audio signal (noy much, but it would). is this what you are doing?? or have you just not updated your sig. seems strange that you would update it to include the DOCK but not mention you have an IMOD/DIYMOD. your advice seems to also be very ummm rehearsed. you sound like you are spewing out what you have heard on here. if you do have an IMOD or a DIYMOD (this isn't just a cable and amp) and it was just an oversight, I apologize
 
Mar 8, 2020 at 1:57 AM Post #11 of 12

Lolito

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I thought the 6th gen had the same wolfson DAC as the 5/5.5 gens am i wrong??? Bah, might have to swap ipods already.
Yes, you are wrong.
 
Mar 8, 2020 at 1:59 AM Post #12 of 12

Lolito

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Hi - my advice is to sell the 6g 120gb iPod and look for a 5.0 or better yet a 5.5 gen 80 gb iPod. They were the last of the iPods to use the superior Wolfson DAC (often used in high-end CD players). No need for a better DAC than the Wolfson. Your current 6g iPod has a low-end cirrus logic DAC. If you get a 5.5 gen, then get it iModded through redwineaudio or do it yourself via an iMod Super Cotton Dock Cable and a good headphone amp (a starter I liked was the Total BitHead because of the crossfeed function). And stick to lossless/WAV files as usual - good luck.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Malakei /img/forum/go_quote.gif
All the inputs are definately valuable here. So ill try to answer all 3 in order.

To pouncepony:

1. I own the 6th gen iPod classic 120gb
2. Looking to get the best sound i can without spending over 500 in improvements
3. The main cans I use day to day are the AKG 240S, Alessandro MS-1s and UE SuperFi 3s [superfi 3s pretty much suck as far as SQ goes but i feel ripped off spending several hundreds on IEMs aside from the customs]
4. Portability wise, id love to have complete portability but i know thats not going to happen, but id be happy with a rig i can bring into my car with me and plug into the AUX rca jacks that can sit tidily in the dash or the glove.
Hope that answers some ?s

Spadge - I was afraid you would say that. I wish there were a cheaper and more portable way to do this, i dont get why people have dac/amp combos for their ipods then. as for the x5, it simply has a quieter noise floor, superior bass control, and a better soundstage with more realistic seperation. At least IMO. However the presentation, GUI and other things that do not affect the sound but the ease of use and such would definately go to the ipod which ive become very fond of in that way. only thing i find i find that sucks about ipods are the SQ and iTunes and thats only certain aspects of itunes such as not being able to refresh the music library after altering. You actualy have to shut down and reopen itunes for changes to come into affect.

Hypoicon - firstly, i want you home system *drool* but that must have set you back nearly as much if not more then a quality 2ch speaker system would. I find that hard to swallow for the poketbook but i suppose if you dont have that 2ch system already it seems much more reasonable. As for the claims about sound sigs etc, i find the ipod to have very very poor bass response and i dont mean non existent i mean it becomes poor quality even with the best of cans. Mid wise and even high wise i find the ipod is generally fine and very listenable but the low end kills me. There is no appropriate volume to listen at on an ipod where it sounds present and controlled. Least not from the HPO. Now, i havent tried it through a LOD and amp which i will try and it may be enough to make it "listenable" so i may not need to go to a wadia dac combo to get what i want but distortion and noise is something i cant stand and quite honestly the stock ipod through the hpo with any of the 3 cans i listed is not up to snuff. IMO.
Why the 80Gb? Not better the thinner 30Gb version to then swap the hd for an ssd of 500gb?? :wink:
 

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