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Teardown Wadia iTransport


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Gang,

 

I got the iTransport yesterday as I was wondering how it worked. I immediately took it apart and they had sanded the part numbers off the chips. I was really too busy too look at it any further till this morning. I took it apart again attached my iPod 5th gen 80gb to the unit.

 

There are basically 2 larger flat pack chips towards the front. One connected to the IR remote receiver so I assume it's some kind of microcontroller sending serial data commands to the iPod and general stuff. It has 2 led's one a heart beat and the other indicates if the iPod is in Analog or Digital Output.

 

I think the Analog output is via the ipod direct from the Line output on the unit.

 

Yesterday when I looked at the board there were 3 unpopulated connectors. Two of them were USB the other was a headphone port. It got me thinking as there was a 12MHZ osc near the headphone and a 28pin SSOP chip. I looked at this chip and thought the layout and stuff looked really similar to a board I did on St Patrick's day last year called the Haypenny (it's a bridge in Ireland) which was a USB to spdif board. Never made it up but in that I used a PCM2705 with the digital output going to a Toslink and RS485 driver to a transformer and BNC output. Well sure enough that is what's on this board.

 

So I traced around with my scope and could see USB traffic. ISO 44.1/16 traffic to the PCM2706.

 

This is all assumption so don't take my word for it. But I think I am pretty close to figuring this out.

 

Here is my take on what happens. There must be a serial command sent to the iPod to output ISO USB data that it is currently playing. Kind of simulating a Computer sending data to a USB DAC.

 

I don't know if I still have a serial port analyzer here somewhere but I imagine I could figure out the command state to initiate this. It also appears as does it happen when I plug my iPod into my mini that you can upload a bit map logo as the Wadia logo does come true when the iPod is plugged in.

 

FYI it appears the jitter (Prism dScope III, Nirvana T2 cable, BNC input to Prism, RCA->BNC adapater on the Wadia side) is actually pretty good for the SPDIF port at better than 4ns and deviation of only 63ppm with a differential data stream of about 850mv (correct). The unit does only put out the 44.1/16bit data. Since computers and iPod's are more consistent with SPDIF data flow I have always found the jitter to be better than most CD players that have to compensate for the disk. This of course is untrue for those CD players that use ATAPI interface like the computers do (i.e. Ayre). There the results are the same as I have found with the computer.

 

It does appear that the video is directly off the iPod as well as the analog.

 

Considering what Wadia had to do to get this too work and the workmanship of the product I think it is well worth the price of the unit. It comes with a switching power supply that is heavily regulated inside the unit before passing to the main three IC units. It also comes with a number of plastic snap in iPod size adapters a small IR remote and a Digital Cable (RCA to RCA) that looks like an Audioquest unit I have laying around here somewhere.

 

Anyways again worth the price.

Thanks

Gordon

 

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Wow, thanks Gordon for all the details. You lost me on some of that stuff, but it is still cool to see the details you provided. Very cool.

 

I can't wait to get mine in here. I am excited for it, but on the other hand I don't think I have a real good spot for it yet in any of my systems. Maybe it will be a good excuse to get another little system somewhere else in the house :-)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Gordon, do you think that they sanded the chip info off because they knew that they were sending it to you, or is that standard procedure for some manufacturers?

 

What is other members take on this? Does anyone have opinions on whether this is ethical or not?

 

(Just curious, I have no plans to set up as competition. :-) )

 

Peter

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Gang,

 

I bought it through Music Direct so I doudt they even considered it. I think all the units will have sanded chips.

 

Gang remember this... the iPod is a great product. But it's a mobile personal player. Use as a high end transport is a waste of time. I think Wadia understood that and gave us a product fitting for the likes of the iPod.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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Thanks Gordon,

 

I think all the units will have sanded chips.

 

It just bugs me when manufacturers try to hide things like that, I notice that in their 'Technical Specifications' section for this product on their website there is also no mention of sample rates (or much else technical really!)

 

Now, fair enough that they have provided a product that is specified adequately for the target market, but it annoys me that they don't provide the basic specs for consumers to make an informed decision about the product.

 

OK, rant over ;-) .

 

BTW, Stereophile (http://blog.stereophile.com/ces2008/010708wadia/) says it does 16/44.1.

 

Peter

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Peter,

 

Yes it does 16/44.1 only from what I understand.

 

Gang,

 

I believe the one of the larger chips is a USB hub. I gather this from the 2 unpopulated USB ports.

 

I imagine the original unit must have had more functionality. I bet they were considering have a Host USB port as well as a free port. As most USB hubs chips have several ports on them.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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  • 2 months later...

It seems funny that you consider these parts they couldn't be bothered to remove, rather than additional parts that will be used in a further version using the same base PCB with aditional functionality and daughter cards.

 

I'd put my money on a forward thinking Wadia laying the groundwork for an inexpensive IPOD and USB compatible DAc to pander to the pc audio crowd on a budget, no doubt they see the decline of hifi seperates as source components already.

 

17\"MB-Pro-Weiss 202-Muse 200- NS 1000M

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In my long audiophile life the machine I kept for the longest period was a Wadia 16, fabulous player. I am so sorry to have sold it last year, I should have kept it as a dac.

 

a question to Gordon: when do you ship the Proton? Do you ship to France?

thks

martin

 

Dac202/LebenXS/MagicoV2 Stealth cables www.bluedy.com

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  • 1 month later...

Just thought i'd bring this back to the top.

 

I slapped two Dexa regulators into my itransport a week or two ago, removing the basic three pin types. For anyone who's thinking about it as a mod, don't bother, no difference at all on the digtal out. I haven't listened to the analogue outs so i can say what it does to that.

 

17\"MB-Pro-Weiss 202-Muse 200- NS 1000M

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Guys,

 

Really to mod this you would have to remove the PCM2705 and supporting circuitry and then revamp all the USB to SPDIF stuff. Actually maybe a better idea would be too pull the D+/D- USB lines out on a USB cable with Ground and send it to somebodies USB to SPDIF convertor.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

 

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I knew that there was a PCM270X chip in there already. Someone else on the forums identified it. What I cannot believe is that they used this chip and then try to conceal the fact.

 

This chip is the bain of PC and USB audio. It has literally given USB audio a bad name. It needs reclocking to sound decent IMO. Lots of bad DAC reviews in the rags due to this chip.

 

They were forced to use this chip I think because they are simply taking in an asynchronous data stream and synchronizing the local clock to it using the digital PLL in the 270X. Then it generates S/PDIF output from this. This works identically to the way that the 270X chips work with USB interfaces, and this is why it sounds so bad.

 

In theory, it should be possible to use a CEntrance interface with TAS1020 in place of the PCM270X. It's just serial data coming in, and can be made the same as USB, no handshake. It would have to ignore the start-up frames. This would improve the performance dramatically over the PCM270X. Not as good as reclocking, but a lot cheaper. I'll have to think on this one....

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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znorter,

Thank you very much for providing the link. I am now officially unconfused (about this issue at least)!!

 

Chris,

This is a wonderful and inviting forum. I have been cruising through, and have been impressed by the helpful attitudes that reside here. Great idea!

 

Thanks,

Earl

 

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Ah well nothing ventured nothing gained. Having seen the upgraded regs as part of a mod of packages on a well known modding site, it seemed to make sense to try them. In this case the current PS has rejection enough, i should have probed with the scope before believing everything i read on the web..

 

Now who's site was it again?

 

Anyway, i'm still perfectly happy with the sound i get from it, maybe the DAC stage in my CA840c is bettert than i give it credit for.

 

17\"MB-Pro-Weiss 202-Muse 200- NS 1000M

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Steve,

 

Actually there are other problems that make it so it cannot use the Centrance code and the TAS1020. The largest problem is the SOF frames are not as consistent as a PC's are and they can change a bunch depending on the file type and the iPod used.

 

Another problem is the Centrance would be expecting 24 bits of data and the iPod using USB to GO is only going to deliver 16.

 

The biggest problem with the reclocking idea is the range is actually more than most cheap CD's are. You would be better off with custom 1020 code utilizing the long internal buffer of the 1020 and some cool external clocking stuff.

 

Remember it's a $400 product based on a ~$250 transport... it is what it is.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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  • 2 months later...

Chris,

 

It will be out in Marchish from what they said at the show. There will be 2 versions, the dac alone at $999 and the dac with Samuels headphone amp for $1499.

 

No details as to were it's made and no idea why these are the standard black finish and not matching the iTransport in the grey finish.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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  • 4 months later...

Gordon, I wonder if you could help me, My modded WadiaItransport is on the fritz. I replaced the regs in it with better discreet regs and 6 months down the line it no longer outputs digital and doesn't respond to IR remote commands. The regs are working fine, analogue bypass is fine.

 

I can sling solder and part swap but this investigation is beyond me, and Wadia won't touch the modded itransport with a stick.

 

Any suggestions? Could it just be stuck in analogue mode and the IR receiver has died?

simon @ bestkiteboarding.com

 

17\"MB-Pro-Weiss 202-Muse 200- NS 1000M

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Simon,

 

I think if you are looking at the PCB from the front at the IR that the large flat pack chip is a microcontroller that sets everything in motion. I don't know the part but you can check the supplies there. This would control all the IR and initiate the USB to SPDIF conversion so that is where I would start.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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Gordon, re your comment regarding reclocking the Wadia unit, I own a Wadia iTransport I use in one of my systems. The system comprises the Wadia as source, a Lyngdorf digital amp driving Acoustic Energy AE1 III speakers, and an Accuphase power conditioner. The amp, speakers and power conditioner are generously supplemented by teflon capacitors as bypass or replacement capacitors.

 

There is one other component in this system, a Empirical Audio Pace Car reclocker. My experience is that reclocking the Wadia output via the Pace Car considerably improves the sound of this compact, high-rez system. I agree that the Wadia is a mediocre transport. I would put it on par with my laptop's optical digital out, either of which sound quite decent on their own in this setup. Adding the Pace Car rendered the system competitive with, perhaps overall better than, my main setup. This is not something I cared at first to admit, as my main system is considerably more expensive. The Pace Car noticeably improved, among other things, clarity, tonal purity, instrumental body and decay, microdetails and sense of timing. These are for me the more important sonic variables.

 

And FWIW, I expect to improve this setup by replacing the small switcher supply feeding the Pace Car with a high quality supply, either linear or battery.

 

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