AUDIO FORUMS >> General Discussion and Support >> IPOD/IPAD specific DAC's

Message started by Dom on 03/24/13 at 05:22:27

Title: IPOD/IPAD specific DAC's
Post by Dom on 03/24/13 at 05:22:27

Hey guys...I am looking for a recommendation on decent DAC that for an IPOD/IPAD exclusively (if there is such a thing). I am looking to keep it in the price range of a few hundred.  

I just caught a review of the Maverick TubeDac1 and it looks like a nice piece for the price.  Does anyone have any experience with this unit??

Something with an adjustable gain as well as a SPDIF /TOSLINK input  would be nice as a feature.  

Thanks in advance,


Title: Re: IPOD/IPAD specific DAC's
Post by Donnie on 03/24/13 at 17:37:12

I have a Wadia Ipod dock and a Wyred4sound DAC. But is a $1500 solution. I'm sure there are much cheaper ways of doing it.

Title: Re: IPOD/IPAD specific DAC's
Post by beowulf on 03/25/13 at 01:43:00

I don't know of any good "exclusive iPod" DACs per say, but there are a lot of USB Asynch DACs to choose from that will work with an iPod/iPad.  I would look for "Asychronuous USB" as one of the main features.

I know the Schitt Modi costs only $100 and it's Asynch USB 24/96.  You can use their DACs with iPad 1-3 and Mini with the Camera Connection Kit, and iPad 4 with a Lightning to 30-pin connector and 30-pin CCK.  If you move up to Bifrost you can get a higher res USB DAC (24/192) around $450.

However in the $400 and above price range there are lots of USB Aynch DACS to choose from.

This is a pretty good reference page as to what's out there and price ranges, etc. from $100 and up.

As far as the Maverick, I've never heard of it ... but does it have Asynch USB and can it do hi-res files?  There are 2 features that I consider A MUST for a DAC purchase for myself at this point.

A tube doesn't neccessarily indicate that it is any better than SS when it comes to DACs, as a lot of the guys here are fans of PS Audio and Wyred 4 Sound and they are both solid state.

Title: Re: IPOD/IPAD specific DAC's
Post by Palomino on 03/25/13 at 13:31:35

Don't know your budget, but on the low end I have used both an Onkyo ND-S1 ($220) and a Pure dock ($100) for the iPod.  Both are low cost solutions and output the digital signal to a separate DAC.  Optical or SPDIF.  I prefer SPDIF, but have never tried a good optical cord.

The Pure dock has a built in DAC, but not much better than what is in the iPod, so I run only the digital signal out.  I use a Schitt Bifrost DAC, but as suggested above, there are other options.

I had a guy clean up the signal path and install a good quality SPDIF jack in the ND-S1 and combined with the Schitt DAC I feel I have pretty good sound out of that rig.  

I have never run a iPad through either, but I've heard the camera connection kit mentioned above works fine.  Make sure your iPod works with either dock.

Title: Re: IPOD/IPAD specific DAC's
Post by markv on 03/25/13 at 14:15:45

Not sure of the version of your iPod, but take a look at the Red Wine iMod:

I had my iPod 40GB version 4 modified a number of years ago and it does improve on the sound.

I use this with my Decware ZH-1 Zen Head amp.

Title: Re: IPOD/IPAD specific DAC's
Post by Dom on 03/25/13 at 16:29:05

Markv...thank you for the info on the redwine device... I have a gen5 IPod so that will work perfectly. Thanks.

Palomin and Beowulf...thanks for your input as well.  The Schitt line seems like a quality it's made in the USA!!   The Modi is a bit light on the inputs, so the Bitfrost is a better fit.  

Here is the link to the Maverick....

Besides the variety of inputs...the price point is attractive at $289 with the GE tube and the Burr Brown Opamp upgrade.  The downside is that it does not have the Asynchronous feature like the entire Schitt line.  Beowulf mentioned that this is a feature that he feels is paramount in a DAC.  But this would cost another $200 dollars.  

I wish someone on this forum had the Maverick so I could get their opinion.  I trust the guys on here with their advice.  Kinda at a crossroads with the two devices..just trying to see if the Asynchronous feature is worth the $200 price increase.  Gonna have to do some more reading about this.  

Any other advice is greatly appreciated.



Title: Re: IPOD/IPAD specific DAC's
Post by Dom on 03/26/13 at 00:06:34 more important piece of info.

The DAC I eventually buy will NOT be hooked into my computer.  The following devices will be used...
- TV out via Toslink
-IPod and IPad
- Blu Ray player
- Cable Box

So... my question is "How important is the asynchronous feature of a DAC that will not be hooked into my PC?"  


Title: Re: IPOD/IPAD specific DAC's
Post by beowulf on 03/26/13 at 00:43:19

That's an interesting question that I pondered in the past and from what I've read actually detered me from considering an iPad/iPod as a viable playback source for dedicated listening (and this pertains to the previous version of iPad, so I don't know if it still applies).

1. The iPad can only provide bus power to low-power USB devices (I think it's around 100 mA of curent draw, or less). Devices that require more power will either need to be self-powered (typically via a battery or AC adapter), or they will need to be connected via a powered USB hub so extra costs associated there. :'(

2. High speed and 24-bit devices are not supported. :'(

3. Devices which do not conform to the USB audio class are also not supported. If a device supports both 24-bit and 16-bit operation, it should be switched to 16-bit mode before it is connected to the iPad. :'(

4. Only sample rates up to 48 kHz are supported. :'(

5. Asynchronous USB audio devices could experience periodic data loss when used with the iPad. :'(

If it were me, I would take an old crappy Laptop with Windows Vista (or Windows 7) that I picked up on Craig's list for $50-$100, combined with an optional external USB harddrive $50-$80 (optional if the laptop doesn't have a big enough harddrive space to hold all your music) and an Asynch USB DAC over playback with an iPad (even over a DAC that was specifically made for an iPad).

But if there isn't any other means than using the iPad, just keep in mind that there are many low cost alternatives that will give you MUCH BETTER playback than the iPad as a direct source.  I would just use it as a temporary means to listen to music, but would move onto something better in the nearest possible future for critical listening.

So ... I would not build a system around iPad playback as a source, I would not buy an amp or integrated amp around iPad playback as a source and especially wouldn't buy a DAC around iPad playback as a source, but rather buy components based on better playback in the future.

Anyways that's my .02 about the subject.

Title: Re: IPOD/IPAD specific DAC's
Post by Dom on 03/26/13 at 12:51:19

Thanks Beowulf for some very insightful advice.  I was shying away from the PC due to the cable running involved...somewhat of a pain.  But after reading your post, I will now reconsider my gameplan.

Unfortunately an issue came only 2 days ago, where I had to hold off on buying the Mini Torii.  The silver lining is that I now realize what I need to do when I am back in the market for a Decware unit.  I will still be browsing the forum to keep up with the insight that the guys here have to offer.  


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