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Thread: Digital out from iPod Classic?

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    Taz
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    Digital out from iPod Classic?

    Is there any way to get a audio digital out signal from an iPod? The reason I ask is that I want to bypass the iPod's own preamp and amp circuits and want to feed a digital audio signal to an external DAC, which in turn would feed a high-quality tube-driven amplifier. I'm really after the best possible sound that I can extract from an iPod (lossless recordings).

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    Does he need a reason? Funkstar's Avatar
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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    Not possible as far as I can tell. Well, not unless you are going to mod your iPod, there are guides to do this btw.

    I can think of several better ways of getting lossless (your music is lossless right? otherwise this is a pointless excersize) audio our through a DAC.

    See SlimDevices for my favourite. The Classic, Duet or Transporter is what you really want

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    Taz
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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    Yes, my music is lossless (Apple Lossless format) so any device would need to be able to read those type of files (which the ones you've mentioned appear to be able to do).

    One question I have is this: my Apple Lossless files are currently stored on my PC and on my iPod. How would these devices read those files? Could I simply put them in an external HDD and plug that into these devices?

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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taz View Post
    One question I have is this: my Apple Lossless files are currently stored on my PC and on my iPod. How would these devices read those files? Could I simply put them in an external HDD and plug that into these devices?
    No, not quite.

    You would need a PC to run the SqueezeCenter software and transcode the Apple Lossless files to something the devices can understand natively, this is Flac by default (lossless to lossless transcode). This is a rather large setup for only one player, but these really come into their own when you have multiple units, all playing separately from your library, or synced in groups to have the same playback in multiple rooms.

    You can also use quite a few different NAS boxes to do this as well. Qnap, Thecus and Netgear (formerly Infrant), Synology and Buffalo all have units that can have SqueezeCenter installed on them. Some officially, some with a easy install module and some by getting down and dirty with the built in Linux OS.

    The SqueezeBox Classic (also known as the SB3) has been compared to CD players 10x the cost or more.

    For some more on the Duet by your truly: Logitech Duet hands on

    Right now I'm using a Boom in my living room which is fantastic. ALso have a SB3 in the bedroom connected to a pair of HarmonKardon SoundStick II's. Another SB3 is round at my parents and can remotely access my music over the internet. I do have a controller set up at home, but it doens't get used much as i either use the standard remote or the web interface as my PC is on all the time anyway. This is all being run from a Thecus N5200Pro with a library of 1,325 albums all in Flac.

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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    I'd concentrate on getting music from the PC, rather than the iPod

    If you already have the DAC and the amp, and are using iTunes, then IMO the best option would be an Apple Airport Express. I considered the Slim Devices stuff, but the AE was a bit simpler and (crucially!) cheaper. The AE is only £60 or so, and has digital/analog out.

    You can send music to it from your PC or laptop or you can control things from an iPod touch/iPhone. If you don't have one of those, you can get 3rd party apps such as Salling Clicker, which let you control things from a range of other phones.

    It's what I do (when I can't be bothered hunting for CD's or if we have friends round!) and it's pretty impressive. The analog out is reasonable, but the digital out, which I use with a £100-ish DAC, is very good, and would be even better used with a better DAC.

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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    Actually you can get a proper digital out from an iPod, but it required a special chip and licenece from Apple. Last time i looked there was only a couple of things on the market and they where a bit pricey. But anyway, if its for HiFi use an iPod is a strange choice. For the cost of a good dock you would get a proper audio streamer that can sound much better do some much more, like internet radio, Last.FM radio and other services.

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    Taz
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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    I am trying to create a mini desktop HiFi system! Many of the solutions require a computer to be switched on and use the LAN/Wireless network to distribute audio around the home. What I am after is the convenience of the iPod with a valve preamp and possibly amp.

    I have some good quality headphones and will be using a valve headphone amp initially. This accepts an analogue in via RCA sockets. I was basically looking for the best way to send an analogue signal from the iPod to the headphone amps analogue input. Using an Apple Dock I can get at the line out signal (which, theoretically is an improvement on the headphone out assuming that it bypasses the iPod's amp stage).

    Of course, even the line out from the iPod would still go through the iPod's DAC. Hence, if there was a way to get a pure digital out I could at least use a better quality external DAC. As it stands, the preamp stage of the iPod will be the weakest link in my desktop HiFi setup.

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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    How about ditching the iPod for something that actually has a digital out then?

    iRiver H140/H120 does by all accounts, I don't know about other iriver players, their site is horribly slow for me here.

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    Taz
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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    Funnily enough, I have an old iRiver H120. As far as I know, it doesn't play lossless files unfortunately. Perhaps it may be able to with the Rockbox unofficial firmware? It was the convenience of the iPod with iTunes that is a plus for me. Furthermore, I already have a valve amp with a built-in iPod dock for it already which is installed in another room.

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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    As far as I am aware the only device out there that bypasses the iPod DAC is from Wadia - high quality manufacturer. I think its about $300 but £350 across here for the 170i. It'll do what you are asking. Allegedly does a very good job. Its not a bad way of doing things as it means you use the iPod/Wadia 170 as a very efficient transport. More crack here

    Guildford Audio do them for £350 - decent firm.

    As a matter of interest what DAC are you using?

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    Taz
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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    I haven't bought the DAC yet. I currently have the iPod's line-out feeding a valve-based headphone amp. The sound is very, very good indeed but I was wondering whether I could get another 5-10% improvement by using a high-quality DAC and without getting the PC involved.

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    Re: Digital out from iPod Classic?

    If you think it sounds great then leave it as is, relax, and enjoy the music. Otherwise you can start on a merry go round of swapping bits in and out, looking for improvements, instead of just listening to music.

    When it comes to improving sound quality the law of diminishing returns applies. The new Cambridge DAC seems to be getting a good response and the Beresford is a good little tool for about £100.

    Shame I've never taken my own advice when it comes to diminishing returns.

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