Pictures of Your Portable Rig (part XVI)
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tiddlywinks

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Audio Technica ATH IM70's
 
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thepooh

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Do i pods have good dacs?


That is a complex question. Each one they have ever made sounds slightly different. On Head-Fi you will have different people who like different ones.

As a generalization they are OK. Only really OK. Still something like the Touch G5 will actually noticeably scale with higher bit rate FLAC files. The Dac is maxed out at a sample rate of something like 24bit-48kHz. So In comparison there are way better portable and home DACs out there. Even if your a member of the 16 bit - 44.1 kHz camp, other DACs even do just that way better. What some Apple products do is offer a flat-non-noticeably wrong sound signature.

The redeeming factor for folks is the UI, gone is all the slow lagging and downright stupid BS you get with much of the high-end portable DACs in this community.

With Apple Touch you get a smooth super high definition UI experience second to none. Too bad they are doing away with the headphone jacks on the iPhone 7. No more Apple for us types.

I was an iPod lover before I got into the flac game, most iPods have the latest and best mobile dac of their era, which should satisfy the average music lovers. The amp section is always powerful enough to feed portable headphones OTG. The battery life has been improved on the latest iPod touch edition. The cons are that, competition is rude; you can get better for less money with better support for even DSD out of the box, most flac players from the app store are paid apps, the output is only up to 24/48 and the Bluetooth is not aptx certified for lossless playback.

As a result, iPods are good if you're sticking with 16/44 mp3,aac,alac,wav and aiff along with Deezer,Tidal, Spotify for streaming, but it won't be your favorite toy for serious audiophile needs.
 
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I was an iPod lover before I got into the flac game, most iPods have the latest and best mobile dac of their era, which should satisfy the average music lovers. The amp section is always powerful enough to feed portable headphones OTG. The battery life has been improved on the latest iPod touch edition. The cons are that, competition is rude; you can get better for less money with better support for even DSD out of the box, most flac players from the app store are paid apps, the output is only up to 24/48 and the Bluetooth is not aptx certified for lossless playback.

As a result, iPods are good if you're sticking with 16/44 mp3,aac,alac,wav and aiff along with Deezer,Tidal, Spotify for streaming, but it won't be your favorite toy for serious audiophile needs.

The FLAC player app is free with small advertising, plays my thickest HD files like 24bit-192Hz smooth as silk. No hiccups like VLC did when play pushed. IMO the rudest thing about the competition is the UI, I'm sure it will get fixed as the years go by.

 
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Do i pods have good dacs?

"Good" = sufficient for their expected uses. Classic iPods had average at best DACs with average amplification. For it's size and convenience, at it's time and price point, it wasn't bad. 
 
Touch iPods and phones have other issues:
 
  1. a DAC that is tasked with all sorts of data to turn into sound- voice, games, apps, siri, etc., often times in parallel
  2. a DAC that is optimized for lossy data conversion and usually capped at 16/44 lossless (24/96 at most)
  3. a chassis packed with every sensor, radio, and form of interference made
  4. a chassis with very little room for audio components. analog parts must be combined, stacked, and otherwise compromised. in fact most analog is now done on 1 chip in these mobile devices and the minijack is surrounded by electrical components
  5. dirty power shared with every subsystem on the device, with aggressive power saving from hardware and software.
  6. music sound quality is last on the list of features for a phone, so the builder does nothing to shield or improve anything
 
This is why real listeners end up with either external DAC/Amps strapped to a storage device or an all-in-one DAP that avoids most of the problems above, like a Pono or Sony Walkman.

 
Also - once you've lived with good pure source for a few minutes you won't want to go back to iTunes or streaming.  Every set of speakers I own, from $10 to $1k, sound better when playing good source. Every system I feed pure source into sounds the best it can. 
 
"The best it can" is an important concept in audio, and might help you from over-spending on hype. You have to know that something is already the best it can sound before trying to upgrade it.  Most people say "new speakers", "new amp" and the reality is that much of their source/DAC/pre-amplification is bad. 
 
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"Good" = sufficient for their expected uses. Classic iPods had average at best DACs with average amplification. For it's size and convenience, at it's time and price point, it wasn't bad. 

Touch iPods and phones have other issues:

  • a DAC that is tasked with all sorts of data to turn into sound- voice, games, apps, siri, etc., often times in parallel
  • a DAC that is optimized for lossy data conversion and usually capped at 16/44 lossless (24/96 at most)
  • a chassis packed with every sensor, radio, and form of interference made
  • a chassis with very little room for audio components. analog parts must be combined, stacked, and otherwise compromised. in fact most analog is now done on 1 chip in these mobile devices and the minijack is surrounded by electrical components
  • dirty power shared with every subsystem on the device, with aggressive power saving from hardware and software.
  • music sound quality is last on the list of features for a phone, so the builder does nothing to shield or improve anything

This is why real listeners end up with either external DAC/Amps strapped to a storage device or an all-in-one DAP that avoids most of the problems above, like a Pono or Sony Walkman.
[rule]
Also - once you've lived with good pure source for a few minutes you won't want to go back to iTunes or streaming.  Every set of speakers I own, from $10 to $1k, sound better when playing good source. Every system I feed pure source into sounds the best it can. 

"The best it can" is an important concept in audio, and might help you from over-spending on hype. You have to know that something is already the best it can sound before trying to upgrade it.  Most people say "new speakers", "new amp" and the reality is that much of their source/DAC/pre-amplification is bad. 

I have had pretty much every iPod ever made. 1st gen Shuffle, 2nd gen Nano, iPod Video, 1st gen IPod mini (yep, the one made for women only) 1st gen Touch and the 5th gen Touch is by far the best sounding to my ears. I've also had all the iPhones. The 1st gen 500mb Shuffle with the Wolfson DAC had the warmest sound but lacked a little detail.

I do everything with the Touch, listen to music, take photos, write and read emails, and even write whole reviews using it for word processing. It's the ultimate device and even sounds amazing powering my full size AHD 7000 headphones. I guess it could be lacking in sound quality, but I don't notice it?

Totally agree that source is key. In my main rig the DAC makes $20 headphones sparkle.
 
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thepooh

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The FLAC player app is free with small advertising, plays my thickest HD files like 24bit-192Hz smooth as silk. No hiccups like VLC did when play pushed. IMO the rudest thing about the competition is the UI, I'm sure it will get fixed as the years go by.


Can you name a second free app that can play flac in the app store? I screened all of them, as I said in my previous comment, "MOST" of them are paid apps, I didn't said "ALL" ! However, you can try some apps for free but with very limited functionality and lots of ads.

I purchased the HF Player, installed it on all my idevices and it sounds great with my Onkyo HA 200, but isn't at the level of a dedicated audiophile dap with proper 24/192 dacs.

I'm looking forward to buy the HA300 and use it as my main dap with occasional pairing with my idevices, Onkyo really ace in terms of SQ but ironically the HA300, in despite of been apple certified, it doesn't support Alac.
 
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Can you name a second free app that can play flac in the app store? I screened all of them, as I said in my previous comment, "MOST" of them are paid apps, I didn't said "ALL" ! However, you can try some apps for free but with very limited functionality and lots of ads.

I purchased the HF Player, installed it on all my idevices and it sounds great with my Onkyo HA 200, but isn't at the level of a dedicated audiophile dap with proper 24/192 dacs.

I'm looking forward to buy the HA300 and use it as my main dap with occasional pairing with my idevices, Onkyo really ace in terms of SQ but ironically the HA300, in despite of been apple certified, it doesn't support Alac.
Nice! Enjoy!

 
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