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MacRumors
Sep 8, 2011, 03:14 PM
http://images.macrumors.com/im/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com/2011/09/08/nuforce-icon-ido-brings-audiophile-quality-to-ios-devices/)


http://images.macrumors.com/article-new/2011/09/ido.jpg


For audiophiles, the MP3-revolution has been a painful experience. Audio files reduced in size by compression technologies like MP3 or AAC -- the technology the iTunes Music Store uses -- are not "lossless". Some of the audio fidelity is lost in the quest for smaller sound files. But so-called "lossless" audio files, which can be acquired by converting CD's in iTunes using the "Apple Lossless" format, retain all the quality and fidelity of a CD.

Load those files onto an iPhone or iPad and audio enthusiasts can have high-quality audio on the go. But, there is still a matter of the "inferior" digital-to-analog converters (DAC) built into the iOS devices themselves. That's where the NuForce Icon iDo (http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/ido/index.php) comes in.
The Icon iDo delivers audiophile-grade CD quality sound to digital music files stored on Apple® mobile digital devices. iDo is ideal for music enthusiasts and musicians alike who primarily listen to--and have their digital music libraries stored on--these devices.

Apple products are becoming the hub of a person's entire music and audio collection, so improving the audio quality produced by these devices is key. The Icon iDo delivers on that at very affordable price point.The Icon iDo does two things. One, it acts as an amp and DAC for plugging headphones into an iPhone. It connects to the 30-pin dock connector on the bottom of the device, then converts the digital signal to analog and runs that through its own headphone amplifier. According to the company, the product "enhances the auditory performance of the headphones because optimal amperage is being delivered to them, allowing for greater audio clarity." The Icon iDo can output digital or analog signals to a stereo, as well.

The Icon iDo (http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/ido/index.php) MSRP's for $249 and works with all recent-vintage iPods.

Hat tip to Gizmodo (http://gizmodo.com/5838204/the-icon-ido-is-an-audiophile+grade-amp-for-the-iphone-and-ipad).

Article Link: NuForce Icon iDo Brings Audiophile Quality to iOS Devices (http://www.macrumors.com/2011/09/08/nuforce-icon-ido-brings-audiophile-quality-to-ios-devices/)



rainmanbk
Sep 8, 2011, 03:21 PM
Who comes up with the names for these things.. How about something not silly that actually relates to what the product does.

Drumjim85
Sep 8, 2011, 03:23 PM
Who comes up with the names for these things..

iDo.

LeeTom
Sep 8, 2011, 03:25 PM
I'm not saying it won't be a noticeable or even huge improvement over the sound of an iPod alone - but at $250 for a DAC and headphone amp - audiophile quality it is not.

al2o3cr
Sep 8, 2011, 03:35 PM
I'm not saying it won't be a noticeable or even huge improvement over the sound of an iPod alone - but at $250 for a DAC and headphone amp - audiophile quality it is not.

No kidding - they'll have to tack another zero onto the price or add a special "audiophile" wooden knob (http://boingboing.net/2005/11/07/astronomically-overp.html) before *that* crowd will be interested. Maybe they could throw in a special "oxygen-free" iPod cable (guaranteed to make digital bits sound MOAR BETTAR) for the low, low price of $1,995...

Steve Mobs
Sep 8, 2011, 03:35 PM
""Audiophile Quality""

tasset
Sep 8, 2011, 03:43 PM
Ah yes, the audiophile. Technology's equivalent of the wine snob.

Undecided
Sep 8, 2011, 03:43 PM
I really think modern music (recordings) suck more because of the "loudness war."

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ for a good explanation and demonstration.

finkmacunix
Sep 8, 2011, 03:45 PM
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That thing looks massive! Wouldn't that take the "portable" out of MP3 player?

Lotso
Sep 8, 2011, 03:50 PM
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I really think modern music (recordings) suck more because of the "loudness war."

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ for a good explanation and demonstration.

Sadly it's both :(

msb3079
Sep 8, 2011, 03:55 PM
ahhh... making fun of audiophiles for enjoying quality sound. Not cool.

ChrisA
Sep 8, 2011, 03:56 PM
Ah yes, the audiophile. Technology's equivalent of the wine snob.

The better term is "audiofool". These are the people who buy the $100 wood knob and the gold plated power cords. They are mostly ignorant people with money.

There are real "audiophiles" who know snake oil when they see it and who can understand the engineering. These people are mostly invisible on Internet forrums

notjustjay
Sep 8, 2011, 04:01 PM
ahhh... making fun of audiophiles for enjoying quality sound. Not cool.

Well, as always, there are two questions to ask:

1. Does this actually make the audio sound better?
2. Is this worth the cost?

The "audiofool" is willing to pay for all kinds of silly things (2) without checking to see if it actually sounds better (1). (Of course, they think it sounds better -- surely it must be better if it was so expensive!)

A fool and his money...

scott911
Sep 8, 2011, 04:02 PM
ahhh... making fun of audiophiles for enjoying quality sound. Not cool.

right!

the DAC in apple items are ok, but sure can be improved on by quite a number of products.

To someone with good ears, the difference between good sound and great should is no different than the difference between old res and retna display to people with good eyes.

ctdonath
Sep 8, 2011, 04:04 PM
How does the Apple TV audio output compare to this device?

bushido
Sep 8, 2011, 04:07 PM
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as long as sth isnt mono i dont rly hear a difference and dont care ^^ great for those who r into these kind of things i guess

juniormaj
Sep 8, 2011, 04:11 PM
How does the Apple TV audio output compare to this device?

The AppleTV can output it's digital bits over HDMI, so I'm going to guess the quality of the digital/analogue conversion is dependent on your A/V receiver.

tasset
Sep 8, 2011, 04:12 PM
right!

the DAC in apple items are ok, but sure can be improved on by quite a number of products.

To someone with good ears, the difference between good sound and great should is no different than the difference between old res and retna display to people with good eyes.

I don't know that analogy would hold up. If you take 100 people and have them point to which has a better display, the 3GS or iPhone4, I am willing to bet a much higher percentage can pick that out compared to those same 100 people comparing a 256 AAC file vs a higher fidelity audio source.

I'm not saying it doesn't exist, especially for those with trained ears, but if the product doesn't have a noticeable effect on the vast majority than the benefit is questionable. I suppose the masses are just unwashed cretins though....

Jodles
Sep 8, 2011, 04:24 PM
I don't know that analogy would hold up. If you take 100 people and have them point to which has a better display, the 3GS or iPhone4, I am willing to bet a much higher percentage can pick that out compared to those same 100 people comparing a 256 AAC file vs a higher fidelity audio source.

I'm not saying it doesn't exist, especially for those with trained ears, but if the product doesn't have a noticeable effect on the vast majority than the benefit is questionable. I suppose the masses are just unwashed cretins though....


In this case though it's not just about the bitrate. Yes, it is quite hard to hear difference between 256 AAC to lossless, without really good equipment and well-trained ears. In this case though, the DAC's in most equipment around today, including the iProducts are of quite old technology, and with decent equipment you *will* hear a difference quite audibly. Whether you will hear a difference or not of course depends on what you're listening through, though, and Beats by Dr Dre doesn't count...

On another note, external DAC's for iPhone isn't anything new?

Edit: + in most cases, people don't know what they're missing before they've heard a decent system. Whereas with a screen you can imagine the ppi being greater.

djgamble
Sep 8, 2011, 04:27 PM
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""Audiophile Quality""

Yeah probably delivers the same quality as the million dollar gear that paedo...audiophiles use. That says, 196k AAC does as well ;) every time people do the tests, NOBODY can tell the difference because most of the sound deleted cannot be heard by our human ears.

malnar
Sep 8, 2011, 04:28 PM
I'm not saying it won't be a noticeable or even huge improvement over the sound of an iPod alone - but at $250 for a DAC and headphone amp - audiophile quality it is not.
I think the price is out of line unless it is made of extremely high-end materials, which I think is unlikely, but those making fun of the IDEA of something like this are equally out of line. Just because you may not notice or care about the difference doesn't mean there isn't a difference. There are two branches of audiophiles - the smart ones who skeptically test things to see if they really do work and the fools who happily throw money at every expensive thing and insist they do wonders.

The first and best upgrade is headphones, period. Really, truly great headphones will blow your mind with what they reveal. Most people will never need more than that.

Jodles
Sep 8, 2011, 04:36 PM
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Yeah probably delivers the same quality as the million dollar gear that paedo...audiophiles use. That says, 196k AAC does as well ;) every time people do the tests, NOBODY can tell the difference because most of the sound deleted cannot be heard by our human ears.

Every time people do the tests? I'd like to see some references;-) What is undetected by our human ears are very high sampling frequencies. This is where some audiophiles might sometimes go out of line in my opinion. We can't hear much above ~22kHz. Bitrate is another story, however. And in this case, the DAC is arguably even more important if we're already dealing with relatively decent bitrates (196k AAC in your example). Go to a high-end audio shop, and listen to some of their top of the line gear and see for yourself if you can hear a difference or not.

Oh and "paedo...audiophiles"? Was that really called for?

edit: Lion keeps autocorrecting bitrate to nitrate! :P

koruki
Sep 8, 2011, 04:44 PM
I love my music and quality audio, but this looks like BS. You won't hear any difference using normal IEM's, the iPod's DAC is pretty decent. I'd suggest people get themselves an iPhone 4 if they want a quick and easy upgrade to portable audio. The iPhone 4 is a noticeable step up from the normal iPod, during parts of the track where there is no sound, its dead silent, no hissing like other mp3 devices.

The only way to experience an increase in audio quality (given the source is good) is with more powerful headphones and by powerful I don't mean bass. This little thing would not be able to drive higher impedance headphones anyway. From there **** goes crazy in terms of cost so steer clear :cool:

btw Nuforce do make a great pair of bang for buck IEM's with their NE-7M's I heard, so spend on that instead of this =)

R3k
Sep 8, 2011, 05:02 PM
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I'm not saying it won't be a noticeable or even huge improvement over the sound of an iPod alone - but at $250 for a DAC and headphone amp - audiophile quality it is not.

Well of course not, where would you fit all the tubes?

Jokes aside, I think you can get some nice conversion for $250. It doesn't have to be a multi thousand dollar Mytek converter to be great- diminished returns when you're up in the super high end territory.

Id have to agree and guess that $250 is too expensive for the quality you'll get here, but not because you can't get quality conversion at that price point.

Snypod
Sep 8, 2011, 05:06 PM
Who comes up with the names for these things..

iDo.

http://nowpic.com/images_folder/files/2010-07/30206c6c.gif

wackymacky
Sep 8, 2011, 05:10 PM
The better term is "audiofool". These are the people who buy the $100 wood knob and the gold plated power cords. They are mostly ignorant people with money.

There are real "audiophiles" who know snake oil when they see it and who can understand the engineering. These people are mostly invisible on Internet forums

And how is this any different from those who chose to by Apple products?

I like the aesthetics and styling, and the "feel" of the product, that's why I've bought about 20 Mac computers over the years, and all the other Apple stuff. It's not that they are superior, it just feels that way.

The AppleTV can output it's digital bits over HDMI, so I'm going to guess the quality of the digital/analogue conversion is dependent on your A/V receiver.


Makes you wonder of another device between your iOS devce and another cable will really add much.

R3k
Sep 8, 2011, 05:22 PM
Also, Im thinking the black one will the better sounding than the others.

tentales
Sep 8, 2011, 06:29 PM
Ok, both sides chill. It's juvenile to bash "audiophiles" as well as gloat if you have the $$$ to afford the finer things in life. I've written and produced albums and can tell you from a production side what matters.

99.9% of Pop/Rock stuff whether old or new is compressed and loudness enhanced, whether available from iTunes at 256kbps or on "remastered" CD.

Only some of the first CDs, ca. 1983/84 came close to using the full dynamic range (max. 96db). Compared to todays "remastered" releases, you can hear the difference in sound level to match today's listening devices. Very few people still have an analog amp with paper-cone speakers. Musicians & producers want to make money, so they produce music that sells to the masses, not a few "audiophiles".

As an example, compare the 1983 CD "Love Over Gold" by Dire Straits, to today's CD or iTunes store. I still have the original CD and it sounds way better musically, but less "loud".

In the Jazz & Classical genres, there's a few better examples of true high fidelity recordings, but even there many are "remastered" again for todays digital amps and speakers.

Now to the "iDo". For me it falls in between 2 markets, audiophiles & casual listeners and therefore probably won't sell well. I'm neither one, I appreciate music quality, not tech specs.

Here's my setup.
I have my Apple Lossless library stored on a MacMini, the equiv 256kbps AAC version on my MacbookAir & ipod/iPhone. If I'm in my car or on the road, I cannot (and I will claim most audiophiles won't either) hear a difference because you're not focused on the fine nuances when you're driving or otherwise mobile with ambient noise all around you.

The iDo has to be be plugged in, so if I need to be near a socket, I might as well use the optical output on the MacMini to feed into my digital amp with a BurrBrown DAC, which probably exceeds the DAC (since they don't name it) in the iDo. And I can control it with the Remote App on my ipod touch/iPhone/ipad. So, why would I buy an iDo ? It doesn't even include an optical S/PDIF (TOSLINK) connector. The USB->RCA doesn't give you electrical isolation, which is important to audiophiles.

A useless product especially at that price point. You can buy a $30 Line-Out ipod Dock connector and feed that into your headphone amp of choice. Good ones are available for $100. But again, if you're mobile with your ipod, just invest $50-$100 in a good pair of lightweight headphones instead of this bloated iDo. If you fly a lot, buy a $150 noise-cancelling set.

iDo? iWon't!

blackburn
Sep 8, 2011, 06:45 PM
NuForce. I'll pass. http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/nuforce-udac-2-drama.html

A line out cable and an cheap Fio E5 will most likely deliver better audio than that thing.

Charlieone
Sep 8, 2011, 07:28 PM
Never mind the DAC, the sound is already destroyed. It's like when you get a 50kb pic file from a customer, and they ask you to print it on a 40’x50’ screen. you say “it's too small”, and they say, “No problem, just enlarge it in PhotoShop”. This happens to me all the time.
And this is what annoys me; the music is recorded in studio, digitally or analog, doesn't really matter, in a really high quality. It is then down sampled to fit a cd (44.1kHz/16 bits, 70 min's) and sent of to the stores (or to iTunes).
From there there is no way back to “Audiophile” quality. Which is, in lay mans terms, at least 96kHz/24 bit information, i.e. rare Sony Gold Discs or DVD Audio. (Even this does not compare to the soft, full, sound of the analog vinyl LP.)
Guys, don't buy this!
It's like having a 4’x5’ paper pic and asking for a 20’x30’ enlargement. It will get bigger, but it won't get better. And all the scratches will annoy the heck out of you.

blackburn
Sep 8, 2011, 07:39 PM
Never mind the DAC, the sound is already destroyed. It's like when you get a 50kb pic file from a customer, and they ask you to print it on a 40’x50’ screen. you say “it's too small”, and they say, “No problem, just enlarge it in PhotoShop”. This happens to me all the time.
And this is what annoys me; the music is recorded in studio, digitally or analog, doesn't really matter, in a really high quality. It is then down sampled to fit a cd (44.1kHz/16 bits, 70 min's) and sent of to the stores (or to iTunes).
From there there is no way back to “Audiophile” quality. Which is, in lay mans terms, at least 96kHz/24 bit information, i.e. rare Sony Gold Discs or DVD Audio. (Even this does not compare to the soft, full, sound of the analog vinyl LP.)
Guys, don't buy this!
It's like having a 4’x5’ paper pic and asking for a 20’x30’ enlargement. It will get bigger, but it won't get better. And all the scratches will annoy the heck out of you.

Most people can't say if your playing an sacd or an regular cd if it has the same mastering process. And anybody could slip an adc and dac in your turntable an you would even knew it was there. Many old cd recordings sound great. I think that the dynamic range of vinyl is worst than the cd one.

I'm not on tube audio, if people like distortion fine I don't. If I want some kind of effect I use an dsp effect. Snake oil sure goes a long way.

dasmb
Sep 8, 2011, 08:33 PM
That says, 196k AAC does as well ;) every time people do the tests, NOBODY can tell the difference because most of the sound deleted cannot be heard by our human ears.

Well, that just flat out isn't true. All the digital music studies I've seen focus on the question of whether regular people can accurately rate a pair of never-before-heard sound sample on alien hardware.

This is not quite the same as saying "nobody can tell the difference." More than, when exposed to two new, fast moving thing, it is difficult to contrast them, and the mind smooths over any loss of detail. Duh -- that's why film works. But think about this: I'll bet you can't even accurately remember the CHORUS of a song after the first time you listen to it. By the second or third listen, you're singing along, but if you can't hear the music well enough on one pass to resolve LYRICS, how are you gonna judge the quality of the SOUND of those lyrics? You aren't, and there's the results of your survey.

This doesn't prove the mind can't PERCEIVE detail in music -- just that when confronted with new information, the brain tries to "get the gist" first and fill the details in over time. Again: duh.

Personally, on known hardware with the right familiar passage, I can detect MP3 at any kbit vs CD in under a minute, and AAC about half the time. Listen to the snare drum -- MP3 will destroy the sustain and mush up the attack at every bitrate. AAC's a much better sounding protocol but you can hear the difference between, say, 128 kbit iTunes and 256 kbit iTunes plus compression. I can hear it. I've upgraded files because it bothered me that I could hear it.

That said, the iPhone has a really decent DAC and a so-so amp. It's designed to drive 30 ohm speakers; hand it a pair of 300 ohm Senn 650s and they will sound bad. $250 isn't that weird a price for a middle-tier headphone amp, that's about what people pay for the Head Room stuff.

foidulus
Sep 8, 2011, 08:50 PM
Come on, everyone knows that real audiophiles only listen to vinyl, when are they going to come up with an iPhone attachment that turns your phone into a needle(and possibly motor!) to use for real audiophile music on the go!

The Past
Sep 8, 2011, 09:06 PM
Who comes up with the names for these things.. How about something not silly that actually relates to what the product does.

iDidNot

marcusj0015
Sep 8, 2011, 10:00 PM
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I make fun of audio philes because they believe cracks and pops from analog recordings Magically change the meaning of songs and improve the artistry somehow.

I totally get the analog sound because there isnt the stair stepping, but that other ******** is borderline insane...

dasmb
Sep 8, 2011, 10:12 PM
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I make fun of audio philes because they believe cracks and pops from analog recordings Magically change the meaning of songs and improve the artistry somehow.

I totally get the analog sound because there isnt the stair stepping, but that other ******** is borderline insane...

Cracks and pops come from dirty, static records played on blunt, improperly calibrated needles. Audiophiles don't "believe" they "Magically improve the artistry," because they don't HEAR THEM in the first place. They buy good vinyl, clean it, and play it on good equipment. While the labor involved in playing records well likely birthed the culture that now sprays PAM on their CDs to improve laser pickup, with analog it had a purpose.

marcusj0015
Sep 8, 2011, 10:32 PM
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Dude. The point is, it's ridiclous...

Get a great 5.1 speaker set up, rip your cds to FLAC. Your done...

marcusj0015
Sep 8, 2011, 10:53 PM
BTW MacRumors, it'd be great if you'd stop posting the User Agent of iOS devices. just say something like iOS X.X.X

malnar
Sep 8, 2011, 11:38 PM
Yeah probably delivers the same quality as the million dollar gear that paedo...audiophiles use. That says, 196k AAC does as well ;) every time people do the tests, NOBODY can tell the difference because most of the sound deleted cannot be heard by our human ears.
You're talking about fundamentally flawed tests - tests that involve low-end equipment at every level. These tests are done by everyday people on common, everyday, often junk equipment. If you are delivering the best audio with low-end audio reproduction equipment, what do you expect the outcome will be? For example, let's use car audio, a common place many listen to their iPods/iPhones. A stock audio system is pretty low-fi in most cars. In that environment, no matter how high the fidelity of the source material, it's naturally limited by the sound system. A better sound system will reveal more flaws in the playback material. And on and on. There's a happy medium, of course, and for most people it really does seem to be higher-end mp3s - most people don't have sound systems and likely never will that can reproduce audio that demonstrates the flaws of mp3s.

But just because human hearing is between 20 and 20,000hz doesn't mean we don't sense sound outside of that range - nor does it mean we should be chopping off frequencies far under that range that we aren't as sensitive to (which is what mp3 does.)

dasmb
Sep 8, 2011, 11:39 PM
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Dude. The point is, it's ridiclous...

Get a great 5.1 speaker set up, rip your cds to FLAC. Your done...

Surround sound is lipstick on a pig. Why you kissing pigs, man?

malnar
Sep 8, 2011, 11:42 PM
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I make fun of audio philes because they believe cracks and pops from analog recordings Magically change the meaning of songs and improve the artistry somehow.

I totally get the analog sound because there isnt the stair stepping, but that other ******** is borderline insane...
You have no idea what an audiophile is.

And one of the things that audiophiles cherish vinyl for is not just the medium itself but the master that was used to create it. CDs are created from a different master that has EQ, limiting, and compression used to "optimize" the sound. In the views of most, this has destroyed the good qualities that CDs could present to listeners - something that has been warped into "CDs SUCK!" these days, which is really very wrong. There's nothing wrong with a well-mastered CD, but they're hard to find in newer releases.

Makosuke
Sep 9, 2011, 12:01 AM
I have no idea whether you can build a significantly improved DAC and amp for $250 or not, but this seems like a reasonable sort of product for people who are relatively picky about sound without being fanatical about it (and if you are fanatical, even uncompressed CD-quality sound probably won't cut it).

As others have commented so pithily, I also find the higher tier of "audiophile" products utterly preposterous. Basically if you get to a store selling audio gear, you can look at whether they sell power cords or not.

If they do, and said cords cost more than $10 and/or mention "cryogenics" anywhere in the description, you're pretty much guaranteed that if anything they're selling isn't overpriced snake-oil for people with more money than sense and a nasty case of the placebo effect, it's pure coincidence.

Seriously, if you honestly think that the copper in the wire going between your outlet and your amp makes the slightest bit of difference to the electrons on their way there, there is no hope for you.

Though I also admit that there are times I really wish I wasn't so scrupulous; I have a strong enough physics and engineering background that I'm sure I could come up with impressive-sounding reasons that I can make your electrons make better music, so I can sell a $15 hand-braided piece of wire for $250.

Then again, maybe I should just go for it--after all, they're guaranteed to absolutely insist that their music sounds better with it (but not, of course, as good as the $500 power cord).

yukster
Sep 9, 2011, 12:30 AM
I'm kinda disappointed on how this product has been received on MacRumors. I guess this is what we get when posting audio related products on a computer related site, rather than a more audio gear related site like Head-Fi.

Overall, I think the iDo is a pretty cool product. There has been similar products, both cheaper (the Onkyo ND-S1) and the more expensive (the Wadia 170i). All of these products allow you to bypass whatever built in DAC the iPod/iPhone has, and let you choose how you want to convert the pure digital signals coming out of that product, and converting it to an audio signal.

The NuForce goes one step further, and does the digital to audio conversion for you. From previous experience, NuForce is known for making good products, so I expect that the iDo will be no different.

This product is about choice. For most people, they will be satisfied listening to their iPod through the crappy iBuds that came bundled with the iPod, or sticking it into a $100 Kmart all in all in one dock/alarm clock.

For anyone actually caring about what the music that they listen to and actually invested in a decent home stereo/home theater system, you may want to check out.

Sol
Sep 9, 2011, 02:23 AM
I really don't see the point of a headphone amp specifically for the iPod. The NuForce Icon seems designed for home use (AC power adapter), in which case you would get much better audio quality from an Apple Express or Apple TV streaming files from the computer, or by connecting the computer directly to the hi-fi, preferably through a USB or FireWire audio interface.

SoldOnApple
Sep 9, 2011, 03:26 AM
Now I don't know if I would consider myself an audiophile, I'm just a student and I have to budget even my food money. But when I buy new headphones, I put months of research on them and pay hundreds of dollars. I also make sure my albums are ripped bit for bit from the best available pressing/recording. Despite the amount of abuse I put my poor ears through (around eight hours of headphone use per day), my hearing still tests above average.

I am aware that it's possible that it's just a placebo effect, and if I am to believe conventional internet wisdom then it really is, but I swear that there is a profound difference between lossy files and lossless files. It's really like night and day. I do know that "CD quality" is probably arbitrary and the research that went into choosing it may well now be proven wrong (or not, I don't know anything about it), but it's just a huge amount of difference.

Now before I continue I should point out that I haven't been using an amp, I just use the headphone jack on my iDevices and Macs. I definitely feel the lack of power, but I've never owned an amp because I listen to music just as much on the go, and I don't trust portable ones because they are so expensive and I can't be bothered researching yet another thing. I also know that the DAC isn't great on the devices I have been using. I've been forever trying to solve the problem of a sort of "hissing" sound which I eventually put down to the devices themselves, (after having no problem with friends amps using an iPod dock).

So you may have to forgive me when I tell you that I also found a noticeable improvement from CD quality to 24bit 96khz music files (most of them anyway, a lot of 24 vinyl rips very accurately capture every nuance of the needle on the vinyl, which is actually pretty cool I think, or just recordings which were mastered or remastered poorly). But generally these higher quality files just sound more vibrant, it's like a slap in the face. I can turn my device up to max ear bleeding volume with these files and it still sounds perfectly clear and amazing, whereas most CDs would sound "too loud" or distorted. It may very well be that only the best engineered music gets released in 24 bit, so it's not the 24 bit that's impressing me, it's the masterful audio engineering in that first place that someone thought warranted a higher quality release. But I doubt it, I have many of the same albums and they do sound different (like the 24 bit 2009 remastered stereo Beatles albums). And yes, I am aware that iDevices won't actually playback 24bit at sample rate of 96khz, I've been converting them to 48Khz for on the go.

And it could just be that it is different, but not necessarily better. Of course it should be different, the file size for these albums is absolutely massive and it really was engineered and is being output at those specifications, but just because I like the different version better, that doesn't mean that it is better. The difference just sounds better to me.

And lossy recordings really do sound like arse on decent headphones. Headache inducing, like the microphone was too close to the instruments and the singers mouth.

So, long story short, is this product worth it? I don't know, I have never used a portable amp, so I wouldn't have a clue. But I do know that if you want to deliver music bit for bit to your amp from your iDevice, then Apple's 30-pin connector is the best and only way to do it. The claims of transporting the music bit for bit over the 30-pin connector are not only believable, the capability of the connector to do this is common knowledge. So does the device itself do what it claims? Like I said, I don't have a clue. It's also USB compatible, so it might be worth looking into for using on my computer too, wonder what it could do for video games. I wonder just how big it is and how much of a drain it would be on an iPhones batter. It's max sampling rate is 48khz apparently, and input from USB is only from iDevices, now that I look at the listed specs. What a waste, such an expensive device and not making it compatible with notebook computers.

blackburn
Sep 9, 2011, 05:20 AM
I'm kinda disappointed on how this product has been received on MacRumors. I guess this is what we get when posting audio related products on a computer related site, rather than a more audio gear related site like Head-Fi.

Overall, I think the iDo is a pretty cool product. There has been similar products, both cheaper (the Onkyo ND-S1) and the more expensive (the Wadia 170i). All of these products allow you to bypass whatever built in DAC the iPod/iPhone has, and let you choose how you want to convert the pure digital signals coming out of that product, and converting it to an audio signal.

The NuForce goes one step further, and does the digital to audio conversion for you. From previous experience, NuForce is known for making good products, so I expect that the iDo will be no different.

This product is about choice. For most people, they will be satisfied listening to their iPod through the crappy iBuds that came bundled with the iPod, or sticking it into a $100 Kmart all in all in one dock/alarm clock.

For anyone actually caring about what the music that they listen to and actually invested in a decent home stereo/home theater system, you may want to check out.

Yeah but instead of buying the nuforce thingy get your self an pair of decent headphones first. And head-fi is a nice forum if you don't step on the toes of it's sponsors. If its flawed as the udac-2 your just wasting your money.

There are good products but has shown many times there are lots of snake oil products for sale. And many of those so called audiophile companies don't have measurements to back up their claims, or they claim that they design by ear.

My electronics teacher (an electronics engineer with more than 40 years of experience) would laugh at you if you said that it sounds better without any kind of evidence with proper equipment, not your laptop line in and rmaa.

And the gold age of audio is dead and buried. Unless your listening to proper recordings having an uber expensive equipment that most likely will only add placebo effect and no better sound. (Check many blind tests results available on the net)

Oh and about digital signals, all nice and dandy but what about jitter? The day proper recordings start to show on mainstream and those dreaded remasters stop destroying audio then maybe just maybe we need better standards.

Edit: A good blind test http://www.matrixhifi.com/ENG_contenedor_ppec.htm

rustydoglim
Sep 9, 2011, 06:05 AM
Disclaimer: I work for Nuforce.
Instead of sounding off whether it is worth it, people like "SoldOnApple" or "Yukster" can just order it from our online store on Amazon.com and give it a try. Shipping is free. 30 day money back guarantee.

I won't go into the issue with uDAC-2 measurement (there is a long discussion on head-fi.org). I think too many people are jumping into conclusion without bothering to try it for themselves ("blackburn" have you actually listen to uDAC-2?). We have at least two customers who wrote us feedback that they tried uDAC-2 after reading NWAVGuy's one-sided report and even tried his solution. They ended up keeping uDAC-2. There are about six 1 to 2 stars bad rating of uDAC-2 on Amazon.com, balanced with 46 5-stars and many 4 stars reviews. Audio is subjective and some people just can't tell the difference.
My point is this: try it and make your own judgment.

We started out as an audiophile high-end company, but we do have serious science behind (owned 4 US Patents, one of the Class-D amp).

For the 1st 5 people who give it a try but don't think iDo will make a big difference in your headphones listening, we will even pay for your return shipping. Just quote this posting.

There are many people who listening to music at work, but can only use their personal iPhone, iPod or iPad for music instead of office computer. This is where iDo will make the listening experience much more enjoyable.
iPad + iDo + active speakers make a very good quality system at home.

I read magazines and watch movies on bed with my iPad, so it is nice to have iDo charging iPad and listen to high quality audio through iDo.

Sol
Sep 9, 2011, 06:06 AM
And the gold age of audio is dead and buried. Unless your listening to proper recordings having an uber expensive equipment that most likely will only add placebo effect and no better sound. (Check many blind tests results available on the net)

I would say that today more people are listening to music on good sounding systems than any other decade, barring times when live music was considered the norm. Maybe the LP sound is preferable to our ears for whatever reason. Its portability was limited to going on trips with you to your buddy's place for a Friday night party. The iPod let you carry your whole music library at compromised quality or a few select albums at CD quality which would be the next best thing if analogue LP systems were not available; small price for all that convenience.

Furthermore, if you want a set of headphones the choices available today would make any supposed-golden age of audio audiophile's sideburns combust and his flares turn inside-out. Personally I love my Grado for home, Klipsch for on-the-go and Audio-Technica for noise-cancellation. I would not underestimate the pleasure of listening on good headphones in that age but that may be exposed as pure nostalgia if you compared them with fresh ears to the more advanced modern alternatives.

My point is that the demand for great audio was there in the past but the means are more common today and as technology advances it will keep getting better.

realmike15
Sep 9, 2011, 06:27 AM
256k audio files are typically indistinguishable from lossless files on all but the most expensive home stereo systems. Occasionally, certain types of music like Classical is more adept at displaying subtle differences between formats but overall, there is very little to compare. The cheap and even moderately expensive headphones that most people don are just not capable of conveying the minute differences either.

Coming from an audiophile and recording engineer, not only does my $10k stereo system at home barely display the differences in most cases... but the amount of concentration you exert in trying to distinguish the differences is honestly just not something you'll be doing in everyday listening anyway.

Case in point, if this makes you feel better by all means buy it. But the reality is you're lying to yourself, if you say Lossless or good DACs are making a major difference in your listening.

Sol
Sep 9, 2011, 06:28 AM
There are many people who listening to music at work, but can only use their personal iPhone, iPod or iPad for music instead of office computer. This is where iDo will make the listening experience much more enjoyable.
iPad + iDo + active speakers make a very good quality system at home.

I read magazines and watch movies on bed with my iPad, so it is nice to have iDo charging iPad and listen to high quality audio through iDo.

For bed or work it would be a great choice of headphone amp and the digital out is icing on the cake. The price is enough to make people who know about good audio gear take it seriously. The volume indicator is a nice touch but I hope there is a way to switch it off as it could get irritating in the bedroom.

I keep the down-sampled iTunes library in my iPod and with 64GB being the maximum today, that is a compromise in audio quality I for one am willing to take. Your amp would not be ideally suited to me but that is not to say people with the lossless tracks on their iOS devices would not appreciate it more. Of course in the near future, when our iOS devices can hold entire lossless libraries and HD audio is offered on the iTunes Store your product will be far more relevant and popular than it could ever be today.

Perhaps at some point you could make it into a sleek case for the iPod Touch? Imagine how much more convenient such a pocket amp would be compared to any alternative today.

blackburn
Sep 9, 2011, 06:50 AM
Disclaimer: I work for Nuforce.
Instead of sounding off whether it is worth it, people like "SoldOnApple" or "Yukster" can just order it from our online store on Amazon.com and give it a try. Shipping is free. 30 day money back guarantee.

I won't go into the issue with uDAC-2 measurement (there is a long discussion on head-fi.org). I think too many people are jumping into conclusion without bothering to try it for themselves ("blackburn" have you actually listen to uDAC-2?). We have at least two customers who wrote us feedback that they tried uDAC-2 after reading NWAVGuy's one-sided report and even tried his solution. They ended up keeping uDAC-2. There are about six 1 to 2 stars bad rating of uDAC-2 on Amazon.com, balanced with 46 5-stars and many 4 stars reviews. Audio is subjective and some people just can't tell the difference.
My point is this: try it and make your own judgment.

We started out as an audiophile high-end company, but we do have serious science behind (owned 4 US Patents, one of the Class-D amp).

For the 1st 5 people who give it a try but don't think iDo will make a big difference in your headphones listening, we will even pay for your return shipping. Just quote this posting.

There are many people who listening to music at work, but can only use their personal iPhone, iPod or iPad for music instead of office computer. This is where iDo will make the listening experience much more enjoyable.
iPad + iDo + active speakers make a very good quality system at home.

I read magazines and watch movies on bed with my iPad, so it is nice to have iDo charging iPad and listen to high quality audio through iDo.

If I do have a chance to listen it I will, since most sources have troubles with my ie 8 sensibility (mostly hiss problems, got rid of my walkman due to excessive hiss).
I'm not afraid to experiment new gear like I'm most likely to dump mac os x after this lion crap (I'm not loyal to any brand). The main problem is that is near impossible to experiment gear without having to buy it here (people used and abused the stores return policy, so now many products can't be returned unless their are defective), and I still need to buy at least an amp for my hd555 since my ipod can't drive it properly (most likely due to the eu volume cap).

And yes audio is very subjective, some friends of mine like to use those crappy eq presets that distort audio on their ipods. And I'm not even risking to buying expensive stuff without trying it first, and since I'm a student I (unfortunately) don't really have money to spend in dacs since my macbook is starting to go bad and I'm out on warranty since I've dropped it.

If I do have the chance to try it like many products that I've tried before, I'll try. If I don't spend a dime on testing it I don't really care if the reviews are great or not its always great to test new stuff. Too bad there aren't many audio stores with more consumer stuff (only professional stage equipment).

But proper measurements never hurt anybody and I think that measurements should be available for every product.

Scarpad
Sep 9, 2011, 07:20 AM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

Dude. The point is, it's ridiclous...

Get a great 5.1 speaker set up, rip your cds to FLAC. Your done...

For Music Bah... 2.1 all the way baby, keep that surround away from my tunes

rustydoglim
Sep 9, 2011, 07:35 AM
I keep the down-sampled iTunes library in my iPod and with 64GB being the maximum today, that is a compromise in audio quality I for one am willing to take. Your amp would not be ideally suited to me but that is not to say people with the lossless tracks on their iOS devices would not appreciate it more. Of course in the near future, when our iOS devices can hold entire lossless libraries and HD audio is offered on the iTunes Store your product will be far more relevant and popular than it could ever be today.

Our competitor, Benchmark has publish a very good article about 24bit/96kHz streaming from computer to iPad using iTune home sharing (http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/discuss/feedback/newsletter/2011/06/1/ipad-streams-high-resolution-audio-dac1)
A good DAC makes a huge different (if implemented correctly, there are still lots of arts to make a DAC sound good). So it is the combination of DAC+headphone amp that will deliver the quality.

pmz
Sep 9, 2011, 09:07 AM
I don't know that analogy would hold up. If you take 100 people and have them point to which has a better display, the 3GS or iPhone4, I am willing to bet a much higher percentage can pick that out compared to those same 100 people comparing a 256 AAC file vs a higher fidelity audio source.

I'm not saying it doesn't exist, especially for those with trained ears, but if the product doesn't have a noticeable effect on the vast majority than the benefit is questionable. I suppose the masses are just unwashed cretins though....

You're wrong, unless those people are utterly deaf.

emaja
Sep 9, 2011, 11:17 AM
For Music Bah... 2.1 all the way baby, keep that surround away from my tunes

2.0 all the way baby. You don't need a sub with a good system. :D

Unless you are listening to an audio DVD with a surround mix, there is no reason at all to listening to music in surround.

Jodles
Sep 9, 2011, 11:35 AM
Audiophile debate aside, what I really don't understand is why this product gets so much publicity on MacRumors? There's plenty of DAC/amps for iDevices... it's not like this is anything new, nor very related to Mac rumors... :confused:

iSayuSay
Sep 9, 2011, 11:33 PM
2.0 all the way baby. You don't need a sub with a good system. :D

Unless you are listening to an audio DVD with a surround mix, there is no reason at all to listening to music in surround.

Agreed .. I don't like a system (for music) which depends entirely on subwoofer for bass reproduction. That is just bad and muffled bass.

To me, a great speaker can reproduce music on most of frequency band by itself, no need for another subwoofer.

But when it comes to movie, it's a different story. Sub comes in handy for sure. The boom of a subwoofer is just irreplaceable with even a floorstanding speakers :D

Sol
Sep 10, 2011, 02:19 AM
Agreed .. I don't like a system (for music) which depends entirely on subwoofer for bass reproduction. That is just bad and muffled bass.

To me, a great speaker can reproduce music on most of frequency band by itself, no need for another subwoofer.

But when it comes to movie, it's a different story. Sub comes in handy for sure. The boom of a subwoofer is just irreplaceable with even a floorstanding speakers :D

That's why ideally you would use one system for music and another for movies and video games.

emaja
Sep 10, 2011, 11:02 AM
That's why ideally you would use one system for music and another for movies and video games.

WAF = zero :p

I can dream though.

tablo13
Sep 10, 2011, 04:40 PM
For audiophiles, the loudness war has been a painful experience.

Fixed

Sol
Sep 10, 2011, 09:50 PM
2.0 all the way baby. You don't need a sub with a good system. :D

Unless you are listening to an audio DVD with a surround mix, there is no reason at all to listening to music in surround.

2.1 is a good fit for desktop computer systems as they are usually all-in-one, so no need for multiple power plugs, inherent noise such as hard drives and lower volume in typical operation, thus needing to compensate with extended low-end frequencies.

For a music system, plain stereo would be preferable because that is the format CDs and LPs are mastered for. Maybe some types of music like techno music benefit most from a sub and car systems are another discussion altogether.

Sackvillenb
Sep 12, 2011, 08:48 AM
This is nice, looks like a great design... however, for $250, I'm wondering just how good the upgrade in sound quality really is...

Don't get me wrong, contrary to some poster's opinions here, it's a FACT that a good DAC makes an appreciable difference to sound quality (assuming you've got good headphones... otherwise you won't hear the difference).

I mean, think about it. All objects in the world are not created equal. One has to physically convert digital data into an analogue electrical signal and then an analogue physical vibration. This is not an easy task if you want to do this accurately, with rich dynamics and detail.

However, you can get great "audiophile" equipment and fairly low prices, you just have to know what products are a good value!

I have a DAC that I use for music recording, it cost me less than the price of this ($184 vs $250), and it makes a HUGE difference in sound quality compared to the internal dac in my imac. It's a night and day difference, for both speakers and headphones (more so for the latter though).

There's no question that a good DAC can make a difference. "Can". The question here is, do these make enough of a difference that they are worth $250? :)

JAT
Sep 12, 2011, 12:16 PM
Agreed .. I don't like a system (for music) which depends entirely on subwoofer for bass reproduction. That is just bad and muffled bass.

To me, a great speaker can reproduce music on most of frequency band by itself, no need for another subwoofer.

But when it comes to movie, it's a different story. Sub comes in handy for sure. The boom of a subwoofer is just irreplaceable with even a floorstanding speakers :D
Hmm, I don't think you guys have heard a good subwoofer. Very few full-range speakers can even approach the quality of a good sub for <50Hz reproduction. (I don't like the industry's 80Hz cutoff) THAT is where muffled bass would come from, you have it completely backwards. And since bass behaves differently in your room from higher frequencies, localizing it properly is easier with a different speaker.

If you think a muffled, boomy subwoofer sounds ok for movies, it's very sad. Where shall I send the sympathy card?

----------

2.1 is a good fit for desktop computer systems as they are usually all-in-one, so no need for multiple power plugs, inherent noise such as hard drives and lower volume in typical operation, thus needing to compensate with extended low-end frequencies.
Computer speakers don't have extended LFE ability, those are 2.0 systems, with the speakers split into 3 boxes.

davidsdiego
Jan 23, 2012, 01:43 PM
Has anyone purchased one and actually tried it for themselves? Is it easy to discern the quality with or without the iDo?

macpeach55
Feb 19, 2012, 10:24 AM
Has anyone purchased one and actually tried it for themselves?

Of course most of them haven't. This is mostly a bunch of people "sounding off" (pun intended) on their own soapbox about how sound works according to them.

That is not so say that some of the posters don't have very excellent knowledge about sound, just that most of the statements do not relate to this unit and its true abilities

Go and find a store & try it out with your ipod/iphone, then decide if the price versus improvement is worth it for you. That is the only way.

davidsdiego
Feb 19, 2012, 11:22 AM
Of course most of them haven't. This is mostly a bunch of people "sounding off" (pun intended) on their own soapbox about how sound works according to them.

That is not so say that some of the posters don't have very excellent knowledge about sound, just that most of the statements do not relate to this unit and its true abilities

Go and find a store & try it out with your ipod/iphone, then decide if the price versus improvement is worth it for you. That is the only way.
Unfortunately, I have not found a store that carries this type of DAC and I was hoping if anyone had actually bought one and used it. I might just buy a pair of B&W MM-1s and plug in my B&W P5s into them.

macpeach55
Feb 19, 2012, 02:04 PM
Unfortunately, I have not found a store that carries this type of DAC and I was hoping if anyone had actually bought one and used it. I might just buy a pair of B&W MM-1s and plug in my B&W P5s into them.

I need a unit like this in late March for two weeks - if I buy this particular variant I will post here in April

marcusj0015
Feb 20, 2012, 01:18 AM
Why so expensive? I guesstimate that theres $50 worth of parts in that thing. -___-

Amazing Iceman
Feb 20, 2012, 11:39 AM
Surround sound is lipstick on a pig. Why you kissing pigs, man?

LOL... Couldn't have been said any better. If the source is not 5.1, faking it to be 5.1 is simply pig business. It's best to play he sound the way the Artist/Recording Engineer intended it to be played.

5.1 Surround is great for movies with native 5.1 Surround audio, not really for stereo music.

davidsdiego
Mar 2, 2012, 03:04 AM
I'm assuming no one here, on MacRumors, has made the plunge and invested on the $250 NuForce Icon iDo to use on their iPhones. From my googling, the only review and promoting of this device is from Crutchfield.