Amongst the modding audiophile community there is a small band of people who are after the best possible sound from their portable audio players. The concept is simple, bypass all the poor quality SMD components and feed the DAC (Digital to Analog Convertor) output directly in to an external high quality headphone amp.
While the concept is simple, execution is another matter – The player needs to be opened up and the DAC output needs to be wired to the nearest conveniant output connector, most people opting to use redundent pins on the docking ports. Due to the presence of DC voltage on the output of the DAC this neccesitates the need for capacitors in-line. To maintain the quality that you are trying to achieve this means using bulky audio grade capacitors which would never fit inside the player, hencing leading to special docking connector, etc, etc, etc.
I stumbled on one such thread where a gentleman by the name of Eric Guerizec from France had combined using my iFlash adaptor with his pursuit of audio fidelity. The quality of his workmanship was so good I invited him to write an article about it.
Here is his story……
After spending many days looking for my mp3 player, I decided to buy the 30Gb 5.5g iPod but I did not want to use their propriety ITunes. I bought the iPod because I discovered Rockbox (www.rockbox.org), the free software replacement for iPod, Iriver and other mp3 players. The first thing I did when I received my iPod was to install Rockbox. Using Rockbox is fun.
I can manually transfer songs without any additional software. Some of the Rockbox features are great: FLAC Support, equalizer, cross fader, user-definable interface, and gapless playback. But there are so many things we can do with the iPod
I wanted very much to replace the hard disk with a memory card. The fall in prices of Compact Flash cards was the opportunity to have a nice mp3 flash player with 32 Gb of memory. I used Tarkan’s adapter to perform this first hack : the famous iFlash adapter. I was not disappointed! The build quality is excellent and this adapter fits perfectly into the iPod. I bought a 32Gb CF card on eBay and it works great with the iFlash adapter.
Installing the iFlash adapter and the CF card into the iPod is very easy. Be careful not to damage the iPod when opening it. The first time, I used a faulty iPod to have a try and I broke the LCD screen, oops! So the second time, I took one’s time to open my iPod successfully. This mod truly rocks : the user interface is smoother and there is no waiting normally caused by the hard drive.
I spent some serious time reading the Apple diyMod thread on the Head-Fi forum. Take a look at : http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f6/apple-diymod-my-take-famous-imod-56k-killer-featuring-3g-4g-5g-nano-1g-269604/. The author Joneeboi has done a very good and interesting job. The aim of the diyMod is to run the audio out from the Wolfson DAC and bypass the “poor” onboard components.
Usually, most of the head-fi’ers use a special cable with a pair of 47uF Black Gate capacitors. The Black Gates have probably the best size to performance ratio. The disadvantage of this method is that there is not a good way of playing the iPod through the line-out without building a custom dock connector.
The iFlash adapter is the solution to performing the audiophile hardware hack with internal caps. When you replace the hard drive with the iFlash adapter, you have enough space to fit two capacitors. Only small capacitors can be used like Black Gate NX Hi-Q 6.3V 22uF or 47uF. The advantage is that you have a really portable diyMod iPod that can be used with a regular line out dock. The disadvantage is that obviously you couldn’t use better caps than the ones that fit internally.
If you want to do this mod, I recommend you to read carefully the first page of Joneeboi’s thread on Head-Fi.org. You will find all the information you need and links to excellent tutorials.