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Question on iPod, Dock, and DAC

post #1 of 13
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Hey guys! I have a not-so-quick question regarding IPods, Docks, and DACs.

Back story- I’ve had a great CD player hooked up to my HT system for many years and it finally died. So I’m thinking about getting an iPod classic, dock, and DAC to replace my old CD player. I have almost 1TB worth of FLAC rips but I really only listen to a fraction of it anyways so I think 160gb should be plenty for now.

iPod- I’m getting this part for free. I happen to work for a company that has “points”. You can redeem these points for a bunch of different things- one of them being an iPod.

Issues- I’ll have to convert my FLAC to Applelossless which will be a big PIA but I’m mostly concerned about the quality. Will Applelossless still retain the FLAC “fidelity”? Will there be audio loss with the conversion?

Another Issue- The connector. It’s proprietary which sucks but I have to use it to get the most out of my lossless audio file; this kind of blends with the dock as well. I’ve been looking at the Cambridge Audio dock that looks very promising- but it costs around $300. Not a big deal seeing as I’m getting the iPod free and they would cancel each other out, but I’d prefer not to “waste” my money. (I’d actually prefer to put that $300 into the DAC to be honest. Reason below.) The other reason is the new slimmer connector on the new iPhones. I really wouldn’t mind spending $300 on a really nice dock if I knew that the connector is going to hang around for a while, but with the new connector showing up on the new i-Devices I’m left wondering if the old is getting phased out and if I should wait for the “New Classic”. Apple told me that the old style on the classic is not going any where and if it did, I could always buy a cable. The thing is- The cables are cheap and would defeat the purpose IMO.

The DAC: Not really concerned with this piece as I don’t really need it to listen to music right now. I will get one in the future when I’ve done ample research. But I do have a few questions right now.

If I forgo the dock and opt for a cable to the DAC will I experience a loss in audio quality?
Are there DACs that allow you to plug in an iPod directly? I really don’t need the “stand up function” of the dock anyways. (Looking at Cambridge Audio, Musical Fidelity, and PS Audio)
If so- Are there audiophile cables for it? Will I get the source files without going through the onboard DAC on the iPod (Like the Cambridge Audio would)? I would rather spend a few bucks on a really nice cable and put the rest of the money towards the DAC.

I guess that’s it for now. If I think of any more I’ll post them up! Thanks in advance.


CA Dock I was looking at- http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/summary.php?PID=605&Title=iD100+Digital+Dock+for+iPad+%26+iPhone



Edit: Let me know if I put this in the wrong section.
    
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post #2 of 13
ALAC is still lossless so that FLAC "fidelity" will still be there and it's just as good. Another option is to get Rockbox for the iPod. There is a newer version that supports the iPod Classic. Apart from getting extra settings, you will have the ability to play FLAC files. I think you need emcore to install Rockbox though. This would probably the better option so you don't need to convert or rip CDs to ALAC.

As for the cable you shouldn't see any decrease in audio quality. I'd just make sure it was properly shielded to prevent any RFI/EMI. There are a few DACs that support iDevices straight from the connector and bypassing the onboard DAC. Like the HRT iStreamer.

The biggest benefit to that dock is that you aren't just limited to DACs that support iDevices.
    
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post #3 of 13
I use dbPowerAmp's batch converter to go back and forth between media formats (I too have a little over 1TB of FLAC - which I also serve as ALAC to the Apple devices in my house) . The batch encoding runs flawlessly - and if it doesn't it logs any errors during the batch so you can go back and re-encode/re-rip any oddities - and you can just set it up before bed and in the morning you'll have everything converted (it will also do any other formats provided you install the codec plugins).

I use it for ripping, etc... so I have a registered pro copy (it's still dirt cheap IMO) but you wouldn't even need to do that if you're only using it once to convert everything you have. The trial period is 100% fully functional without limitations or watermarks so you could download, convert, uninstall over a weekend at no cost.

For referrence, on a i7 920 @3.2GHz it took a little over 6 hours to convert 1.2TB of FLAC to ALAC - while also renaming and copying to a network location (their apps are all fully multi-threaded). biggrin.gif

EDIT: I've been thinking of picking up an iD100 as well (my 2ch rig is already all Cambridge Audio components) but the already mentioned HRT iStreamer would be a great option as well.
Edited by DiGiCiDAL - 10/23/12 at 12:13am
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys for the help. I got my iPod yesterday and it seems to work pretty well. I did purchase the dB Poweramp CD Ripper at about 140gb of using EAC to rip my CD's (was getting tired of 45min CD rips). The only thing that is worrisome is that everyone is talking about ALAC. I'm converting to M4a Apple Lossless via the dBpoweramp Music Converter. I've researched around and read that the M4a is just a container and it will support lossless audio. So what is ALAC? The "compression" in the M4a container?

EDIT: When I hold my mouse over the file it says: Encoder: Apple Lossless (ALAC) I guess I got it then.

The other issue I'm having is with iTunes. I can't access my account from 2006 without the serial number of an iProduct or the Credit Card number used. I never used an iProduct in 2006 with iTunes so that number is non existent. As far as the CC# is concerned- Good luck trying to find that card 6 years later that wasn't even mine. I even answered my birth-date correctly and my security question first try and they still won't unlock my account. Ugh.

EDIT: Apple fixed my account! I should have access to it in 24 hours. Even got 5 free song credits!

I think I'll purchase the dock tonight and see if I can get it by the beginning of next week.
Edited by Averywhite - 10/26/12 at 2:35pm
    
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post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Averywhite View Post

EDIT: When I hold my mouse over the file it says: Encoder: Apple Lossless (ALAC) I guess I got it then.
...
I think I'll purchase the dock tonight and see if I can get it by the beginning of next week.
Great... I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it! And yes, as you correctly surmised, ALAC is simply the common description for the codec - Apple Lossless Audio Codec - but the container format is .M4A.

Also let us know what your other gear is so we'd have an idea of what that source is feeding - headphones/speakers, amp/AVR, etc... thumb.gif
Edited by DiGiCiDAL - 10/27/12 at 2:37am
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DiGiCiDAL View Post

Great... I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it! And yes, as you correctly surmised, ALAC is simply the common description for the codec - Apple Lossless Audio Codec - but the container format is .M4A.
Also let us know what your other gear is so we'd have an idea of what that source is feeding - headphones/speakers, amp/AVR, etc... thumb.gif

Equipment is Pioneer Elite receiver from about 2005, Polk Pro sub, Polk Floor Standing Speakers (They are getting replaced soon), and Monster Power Conditioner.

The more I read about the CA dock the less I want to spend $300 on it. A ton of people are giving it a bad rep for it's price tag/features.

Small example: http://www.head-fi.org/t/578721/is-the-cambridge-audio-id100-ipod-dock-any-good

Another issue I failed to bring up was the fact that I couldn't make my own power cable for the dock. I'm sure that the CA power brick that comes with it is just fine, but, I still would prefer to make my own cable. Especially if I'm going to spend $300 on the unit.

Many people are pointing towards the Pure i-20 dock. It has digital pass through so they *should* sound the same. That extra $200 that I would save would be better used to fund an even better DAC in my opinion.

http://www.pure.com/products/product.asp?Product=VL-61429

Ugh. I probably sound like a cheap ass that wants to hang onto money and never spend it mad.gif

I'm going to keep reading up on these different options and keep you guys posted thumb.gif
    
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post #7 of 13
Nice gear overall, I'm a big fan of the Elite line from Pioneer... and I'd like to be a big fan of the TAD line too... but the entry price is just too much! rolleyes.gif

It definitely is a big price - especially if you're having to purchase a separate DAC for it. Since I have the DACMagic already it would almost be worth it for me. Naturally the DAC in your AVR is more than capable so that's not truly an issue... but if you wanted to have a great DAC built in to the dock... you could get THIS which is a much better deal for the same money IMO. Or the iStreamer as previously mentioned is also nice and would let you save 2/3 for a DAC later on.

This is the other one that I'm considering - unless I really break the bank and go with a Wadia transport... but that's doubtful at this point. Although I'm definitely brand-agnostic at this point, I do like the fact that the iD100 would have a very consistent look since I'd be matching it with a 650A and 650C + DacMagic... but then again it's far from necessary since I also like to move gear from one system to another almost constantly. biggrin.gif

I'd say just buy whatever you want from a place that has a very flexible return policy. If for no other reason, that is why I like shopping at higher-end/boutique shops... they're much more accommodating of in-house auditions for a week or two at least (if not 90 days). Although when talking about a digital transport for iDevices... you're not likely to be able to hear any difference between models (unless they're broken) since it's just pulling 1's and 0's after all. However, depending on the shop, they probably have a 30 to 90 day policy regardless of gear type. So if you're willing to possibly take a hit on the postage depending on policy, it's a great way to give it a try and make a truly informed decision!
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Update so far:

So I sent an E-Mail to Pure asking them if my 7th Gen iPod Classic will work (They list 2009 classic but I was unsure as Apple goes by generations not years). Took them 3 days to get back to me with a conformation test they did in their lab. I bought the Pure last night and it *should* be here on the 8th.

Before that- I've been researching, researching, and researching- All roads lead to the Pure as the go-to unit for and entry level Audiophile iPod unit. A TON of people like the Wadia unit at first, but after some time, they preform some modifications to it. Kinda silly if you are spending around $400 on a dock just to turn around and pack it with "better innards". I could not find a difference between the CA dock and the Pure as far as the digital out goes. Sooo why spend the money? (Unless you need those 3 pin connectors. XLR is the correct term I believe)

The DAC on the Pure- People say it's pretty damn good for the price point including all of the options. People were mostly using headphones in the comparisons with $50 DAC's to $200 DAC's and were generally impressed. I guess I will get to hear it soon enough tongue.gif

Another thing I found on my quest for an "Audiophile" dock- The Krell line of docks!

http://www.amazon.com/Krell-PAPA-DOCK-Silver/dp/B001O0EFT2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351982777&sr=8-1&keywords=krell

http://www.amazon.com/Krell-KID-iPod-Dock-Silver/dp/B001O0EFSS/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_1

I mean, who doesn't want to spend $5,000 on a true iPod dock?

Back on a serious note- When I get the dock I'll be sure to let you guys know how it preforms etc etc.

DiGiCiDAL- What is a TAD line? I'm unsure what it is redface.gif Also, Thank you for all of your help on this matter + rep. We will find the perfect iPod dock for our price range... Eventually LOL
Edited by Averywhite - 11/3/12 at 4:03pm
    
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post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Averywhite View Post

Equipment is Pioneer Elite receiver from about 2005, Polk Pro sub, Polk Floor Standing Speakers (They are getting replaced soon), and Monster Power Conditioner.
IMO, that Monster PC is doing more harm than good. I would compare it to the sound of everything plugged into a good surge strip, you may be surprised.
post #10 of 13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Face76 View Post

IMO, that Monster PC is doing more harm than good. I would compare it to the sound of everything plugged into a good surge strip, you may be surprised.

Do you have anything to back this up? I live in FL. Thunderstorms and brownouts are EXTREMELY common down here.
    
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