Modding: Audiophile meets iPod (diyMod)

Modding: Audiophile meets iPod (diyMod)



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  (,  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.

32Gb CF iFlash

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 : 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 You will find all the information you need and links to excellent tutorials.


47 thoughts on “Modding: Audiophile meets iPod (diyMod)

  1. Huberer

    Hello Tarkan,

    I also want to mod my iPod Video 5.Gen. 30GB with the one you described above. The first mod is to add 64GB SDXC-card with your adapter-set (ordered it yesterday).
    The diyMOD will do a friend of mine and just need some pictures/text to do it.
    I’m almost clear what to do but on image 2 (of 7) or the second from the beginning of this how-do I don’t know to which contacts the cable is soldered? To L2 or C84 (C84=bottom / right channel) and L3 or C85 (C85=bottom / left channel) or to both (L2+C84 for right channel / L3+C85 for left channel).
    Unfortunatelly I can’t increase the size of the image to see it clear.

    Thanks in advance

  2. Tarkan Post author

    You will probably have much better luck asking on some of the diymod mods posts on various forums (e.g. head-fi).

  3. mixtli


    here [] they offer the Ipod mod. Since they mod it via a “custom dock connector” (you mentioned in this post), I assume they are offering the classic diyMod (with external caps).

    Now, is really what is claimed there, that is

    “IMod improvements over stock iPod:

    Increased resolution of fine detail
    Better bass control and definition
    A richer, more seductive midrange
    Superior treble extension and sweetness
    A larger more 3-dimensional soundstage

    Product Features:

    Exclusively for 4th, 5th and 5.5 generation iPods
    Leverages built-in Wolfson DAC (same DAC used in many pricey CD players)
    Bypasses iPod’s analog stage that was not designed for audiophile playback


    iMod line out voltage: ~1.0 Vrms
    Output impedance: < 1k
    Battery life: Same as stock iPod

    5th and 5.5 generation iPod:

    Headphone jack remains unchanged, and can be used for headphones
    iPod’s internal docking connector now outputs an audiophile-grade signal
    5G / 5/5G iMods require ALO Audio iMod dock cable*
    Apple-supplied USB cables still support charging and music transfer"

    achievable via Eric's "portable" dynMod (with internal caps – such as Black Gate NX Hi-Q 6.3V 22uF or 47uF)?

    If yes, I am really interesting to mod my Ipod, but I am not able to do it in my own. At this end, if there is anyone (Tarkan/Eric/anyone else) available to help me somehow, I will really appreciate it.

    P.S. currently I am in France.

    Thanks a lot.

  4. Tarkan Post author

    Yes, the internal capacitor mod does not change how the iPod functions – docks, car stereo’s and headphones will all work as before.

  5. Calvin

    So in summary (haha, sorry, I read your reply above but I want to clarify again in my own words): Replicating (successfully), this mod with the capacitors internal (as opposed to having to build a custom LOD with the capacitors connected somewhere inside that), will allow the iPod dock to still be used normally in things like those stereos that have a dock for iPods (eg. Logitech mm50) and other connections like to a car stereo via a 30-pin connector to 3.5mm (as said above in an earlier reply)?

    Click wheel volume control still works for standard headphone output for those grab and go days that don’t want to carry an amp, but would not affect volume in the modded line level output if an amp is used (does it still click when you move it but not affect volume?)?

    Thanks :)

  6. Tarkan Post author

    Hi Michael,

    Sorry to hear you had problems, I am sure the situation can be salvaged. I would like to see pics of the broken battery connector and the board if possible – it may be possible to repair that board.

    I have sent you an email.

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