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What DAC does an ipod use?


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Probably a question that has been covered before, but I will ask it anyway. I am now up-and-running with a Mac based system at home and ipods for all the family (well, OK, my wife won't touch one - she likes her battered Grundig distorted radio). I am importing lossless to itunes for home audio use, so by default most music goes into my ipod in lossless format, 16 bit, 44.1 KHz. But then I get thinking what DAC does an ipod use? If it is designed for AAC or MP3, maybe the DAC can't do justice to 16/44.1 CD quality. I am sure it can, but would like reassurance I am not wasting my time with lossless in an ipod.

 

Has anyone built a true audiophile ipod yet? Surely, it can be done?

 

Thanks

 

Phil

 

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Hey Phil,

 

They vary from model to model and probably generation to generation. As far as I know they are all able to do 16bit /44.1k or 48k so do not be alarmed. iPods sound very musical so do not panic.

 

We all await the 1 TB solid state hard drive iPod capable of 300 hours battery powered playback of 24bit/172k music with an output stage that can truly drive Sennheiser HD 650's :)

 

I do believe though that unless we are very advanced Yoga practitioners, we are not holding our breath:)

 

Seriously, my 30G iPod video (previous generation to current) playing AIF files never fails to bring me musical pleasure driving either Sennheiser CX 300 in ear or Sennheiser HD 580 Jubilee Carbon Framed external phones.

 

Go listen to some music and enjoy it! ;)

 

regards,

 

Baxtus

 

PS Don't pay out too much on your wife listening to a Grundig radio. I have heard very pleasant sounds from some old Grundigs and she doesn't have the hassle of ripping a collection or losing it to a hard drive crash etc. She may be a lot wiser than you think :)

 

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Hey there Phil - Traditionally iPods have used a Wolfson DAC. I don't believe it's optimized for a certain format. I've gone back and forth between AIFF and 320 kbps mp3 on my iPod. It all depends if I want best quality or best selection. Right now I am in my best selection phase. Plus I don't consider my iPod a serious audiophile component so my expectations are adjusted accordingly. In the end it comes down to enjoyment. Whatever you enjoy the most is the format you should go with. If you enjoy a smaller selection and lossless compression or lossy compression and the convenience of a large selection it really doesn't matter. I wish there was a black & white answer on many of these questions, but subjectivity rules the day.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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Phil,

 

You can check out the hardware on most iPod's at the Linux iPod site. They have technical information about all the iPod's processor, dac and such...

 

http://ipodlinux.sourceforge.net/techdetails.shtml

 

Most of them used the Wolfson WM8711/21/31 versions for playback only. Some of the units incorporated Codecs (ADC and DAC in one package) Nano 2&3, iPod 5th gen and allow full recording at 16/44.1. I have one of the Alesis consoles that has an iPod doc and I record when we play out and use the mixer to mix down two full monitors.

 

Even though the Wolfson dacs are capable of 24/96 the processor and storage really do not make it possible to accomplish this.

 

The new iPod Classic does use the Cirrus dac chips. The iTouch and iPhone still use the wolfson but I am not sure about the 3G iPhone. There has been allot of criticism over the Cirrus/Crystal dacs. I would have to agree with them... I prefer the 5G over the Classic by far.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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The iPhone 3G uses a Wolfson WM6180C (Apple 338S0506). http://live.ifixit.com/Guide/First-Look/iPhone3G

Can't tell you anything about this chip, not sure anyone can at this early stage of release. Most people I have read from seem to like the sound quality of iPhone 3G. For me this is important as I enjoy my iPod 5G, 30 gig, with Apple lossless. I too have listened to a Classic and was not impressed. My brother has a classic and I was doing a side by side comparison with my 5G iPod using Apple lossless in both, I prefered the 5G. The difference was not huge but the 5G was more pleasant in the long term. I was using a pair of Etymotic ER6i's which I also enjoy.

 

Redwineaudio does some interesting mods to iPods to make them sound better.

 

Can any of you comment on the sound quality of the iPhone 3G compared to other iPods? I await some comments before purchasing an iPhone 3G.

 

PJH

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Thanks Guys, very informative replies as always. I must say I am highly impressed with the quality of feedback on this Forum and also the impartiality/lack of "agendas" that you get on some other Forums I have encountered.

 

From the first two replies there is a message and that is don't take things too seriously - just enjoy the music! I could not agree more. This came home to me a few weeks ago when I was wrestling with new cables, etc, on my old system and spending most of my time over-analysing things - does this sound right, better, etc? I got myself quite worked up.

 

Then I drove into work and Nils Lofgren was live on the car radio playing an acoustic version of a Neil Young song. I found myself really enjoying the music...from a crappy car radio...there's a message there.

 

I am really impressed with my new home system of a Macbook driving active ADM9 speakers. But I get as much pleasure from my new ipod nano out and about walking, although I am always looking at ways of getting more out of it.

 

Thanks all

 

Phil

 

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Hey Phil - It's people like youself that help make the forum so enjoyable. When everyone relaxes a little and thinks about the music, like you said, we all have a ton of fun and learn at the same time.

 

Speaking of the ADM9s, I talked to Ashley James this afternoon. I am very excited about the new ADM9.1s. You can look forward to a review here shortly.

 

I talked to Ashley about the site and I have a good feeling he'll be jumping in on some conversations around here. As far as I'm concerned information straight from the source is always best.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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Chris,

 

Thanks. As a matter of fact, I am going over to pick up a Sub from Ashley this Saturday to go with my ADM9s. I was more impressed with the ADM9s than I have been with any other audio product I have ever owned and they make for a very neat set up. OK, there are leads all over my sitting room at present, but I soon hope to have a nice flatscreen TV sitting on the Sub, with ADM9s either side, all just driven by my discrete Macbook.

 

To my mind, the best and most accurate review of the original ADM9s can be found at http://www.avihifi.co.uk/avid/Hifichoicereview/HFC-review-1.html

 

I look forward to your review - Ashley will be a very valuable contributor to your site.

 

As an aside, I would like to connect my Macbook to my old TV which just has Scart inputs. Any idea if/how I can do this?

 

Thanks

 

Phil

 

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Oh boy, Ashley is coming. This will be interesting. Actually, everytime I have asked him a question he has been extremly helpful, he can just get a little opinionated on forums. He does like computer audio, so he will be a good addition. It would be nice if Martin the lead engineer would also join in, as he has a ton to offer. Phil, first enjoy the ipod, I just picked up a Nano and am quite impressed. I have been recording my records to my Mac via the ADM9s, and converting to Appleloss and the results are very good whether I am in my car, or using my Grado headphones. Phil let me know how the sub sounds, as I may consider one in the future.

 

ADM9.1s ,2.0 Ghz Mac Mini, Panasonic BD-35 blu-ray player.

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Radar,

 

I have come across some of of the "interesting" Forum exchanges involving Ashley - that is what got me so interested in what AVI were doing. Like you, I remain hugely impressed with the ADM9s and have also found Ashley very helpful.

 

Sounds like we have a fair bit in common. I also have a Nano and iGrado headphones. I am just interested in exactly how far one can go in squeezing performance out of an ipod - I will be trying different phones and possibly even a headphone amp.

 

The other thing I will be playing about with is import types. Tried two versions of Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic", one as AAC and one as lossless and the difference is nowhere near as big as I expected.

 

Have not tried the analogue inputs to my ADM9s yet - sold my LP12! Still have a large vinyl collection though.

 

Will let you know about the Sub - collecting it on Saturday!

 

Chris (or Radar) - thinking about connecting my old TV to Macbook - I think I need a mini-DVI to Video adaptor and then a video cable to connect to a yellow phono type socket on TV. Any ideas?

 

Phil

 

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Well, after an introduction like that I pray my appearance may be an anticlimax!

 

A lot of people come here (to AVI) with iPods and sometimes other PMPs and I have to say that the best are better than some well reviewed and expensive allegedly hi end CD players. This is plugged into ADM9s or 9.1s. However iPods do vary and I think it's because there are two generations of Classics and two or more sizes of hard drives. The other day someone produced a 160 Gig Classic and it was not good, but on another occasion the 60 Gig version seemed very good indeed and the customer wrote later to say that it wasn't significantly worse than the DAC in the ADM9s. The Touch is definitely good and surprisingly so is the Shuffle. In truth it sounds slightly soft and slightly Bass heavy, but much more pleasant than a £1K CD player another came with.

 

I must confess that I say undramatic things in a dramatic way to provoke a reaction and today I've received correspondence from a very miffed ADM9 owner. He's angry, IMO with justification, because firstly a magazine editor has implied that a ludicrously expensive standard DVD player from a hi end company will be better than a Blu Ray player like a PS3, which he sees as having a better picture and being more versatile, and secondly that another from the same team has poo poo'd the idea that the digital output from an Airport Express will be as good as one from an expensive CD transport.

 

IMHO (and here we go!) hi fi journalists are tweak type enthusiasts and often non technical, so they don't understand what they are saying or the implications for would be purchasers. If you had a Mac and an AE and were happily using it's digital output until you saw a rave review for a CD transport and bought it for the price of 9 AE's, only to find out it sounded no different and wasn't as convenient to use!

 

This Forum is a gift from heaven for companies like us who see that TV, Hi Fi and computers are converging at speed and want to provide cost and performance effective solutions.

 

Please don't ban me yet.

 

Ash.

 

PS. Mart overseas much of what I say and will contribute if it helps. Last time he did, he ended up in a fight with some idiot selling speaker cable the size of fire hoses!

 

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I've always been very disappointed when connecting a computer to a TV. An older TV with vastly different inputs can be done I'm sure, but I haven't done it before. I'm guessing once you have the right converter it will be simple. Sorry for the lack of insight :-)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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... And there we have it everyone. The first post from Ashley himself :-)

 

Thanks for joining the forum Ashley. I'm happy you are here and giving us your honest opinion about HiFi and even yourself - "...I must confess that I say undramatic things in a dramatic way to provoke a reaction..."

 

I'm confident the laid back readers of Computer Audiophile will enjoy the forums just as much as always even if you stir things up a bit with your bloody honest comments.

 

Note: I've personally talked to Ashley recently and he really is not a fan of pissing matches in forums and the behavior seen in many other places. He is actually a very nice Brit who talked my ear off about everything :-)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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Welcome onboard Ashley! I must say you have made this household happy on three major fronts:

 

1. I have a system which sounds as good as anything I have heard (Macbook driving ADM9s). It is different, takes time to aclimitise to, but the honesty, detail and authority it delivers are wonderful.

 

2. My wife loves the fact our sitting room is liberated of a lot of black boxes - OK, still a way to go to tidy things up more, but I will get there!

 

3. From a no ipod family, we are now a 3 ipod family (still can't pursuade the missus), 2 nanos and a shuffle. Gels perfectly with the Mac/itunes set up at home. Like you, I think the shuffle sound quality is pretty damn good - over headphones that is, yet to try it through the ADM9s. The shuffle also has the advantage that it will import lossless files and convert to AAC on the fly, which the others won't do.

 

Just wish I could work out te right lead to use to go from my Macbook to my old TV with those old yellow/white/red sockets as I want to play an itunes video I downloaded (Nickelback's Rockstar) on the telly whilst listening through the ADM9s!

 

Phil

 

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"selling speaker cable the size of fire hoses"

 

Damn, I was just about to apply for a patent on my new idea. -3 wire guage water cooled audiophile use only speaker cables. Obviously, we all know that even number guages introduce harmonic tremons. At least the aberations in odd guages can be cured via water filtration. And I was gonna have an option to use a sub-zero fridge as a cooling source. Talk about WAF. Cool your signal and your beer.

 

Guess somebody beat me too it.

 

Welcome aboard Ashley.

 

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Welcome aboard Ashley, as the person who bought the first pair of ADM9s in the US it is good to see you posting on this side of the Atlantic. Phil, have you tried a USB tuner for your Mac. I use one and I love it. The sound is output to my ADM9s, and I use the VGA output to a front projector, and the results are awesome. I also think the Mac does a good job with DVDs. I also tried comparing an AIFF file to a 128k AAC file on my Nano, and could not really tell a difference. I can tell a difference with the ADM9s. Although I have to admit when I first started ripping my cds I thought it was in AIFF, when it was in fact 128K mp3 and it still sounded pretty good.

 

ADM9.1s ,2.0 Ghz Mac Mini, Panasonic BD-35 blu-ray player.

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Radar,

 

Tell me more about this tuner and front projector as I am new to all this game. Is it a radio tuner? I obviously have USB on the Mac, but my ADM9s have an optical input.

 

Regarding file types, I have not done a critical evaluation yet of AAC vs lossless, AIFF, etc. It gets quite difficult as to my knowledge itunes won't let you have duplicates from one album, but if you have the same track on different albums you can rip at different rates. All I can say so far is I can tell no difference between AIFF and lossless, and also AAC sound pretty good too!

 

Phil

 

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Phil,

It is a TV tuner. I would look at Elgato or Miglia. It does not matter what type of input you have on the ADM9s, as you are outputing the sound the same as you would if you were listening to music.

 

ADM9.1s ,2.0 Ghz Mac Mini, Panasonic BD-35 blu-ray player.

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Hi Phil - You certainly can have duplicates from the same album. Here is how I compare these formats. Rip to AIFF then change your import settings to lossless. Then right-cllick the AIFF track and select Convert to lossless. You can do this for all the supported formats.

 

Good luck :-)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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Phil

 

First off all thank you very much for the kind words (the cheque is in the Post!) it feels great to have the reassurance of happy customers.

 

I don't have the Elgato http://store.apple.com/uk/search?find=elgato+ but quite a few customers do so here's a link. I've got an Apple TV which I rather like as my main source and a Macbook Pro. I'm ashamed to say that my hi fi is only ever used for Dems now.

 

Ash

 

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You need a Mac Mini for that and then, thanks to DRM issues with Movie companies, you can't rent or buy HD Movies.

ATV are cheap, buy I wasn't sure they had any benefits when I bought mine and now I wouldn't be without it, and what's more, when I show it to people who come here, they often go and buy one.

 

That's the trouble with Apple, much of what they do is so innovative and it's hard to imagine how much use something they make will be till you own it and can play with it.

 

I think a good example is when I bought my 20" iMac. It was about the time that certain hi fi companies were introducing Music servers for up to £10,000. I'd paid £769 for a beautiful computer with a 700 Gig HD and a La Cie as back up for another £150 and with an external DAC (or ADM9.1s) I had a far more useful, easier to use and attractive device for a fraction of the price!

 

Ash

 

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