NuForce Icon iDo Brings Audiophile Quality to iOS Devices

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001


    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 comes in.
    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 MSRP's for $249 and works with all recent-vintage iPods.

    Hat tip to Gizmodo.

    Article Link: NuForce Icon iDo Brings Audiophile Quality to iOS Devices
  2. macrumors 6502


    Jan 30, 2006
    Southington, CT
    Who comes up with the names for these things.. How about something not silly that actually relates to what the product does.
  3. macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2007
    DFW, TX
  4. macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2004
    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.
  5. macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2009
    No kidding - they'll have to tack another zero onto the price or add a special "audiophile" wooden knob 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...
  6. macrumors regular

    Jan 24, 2010
  7. macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2007
    Ah yes, the audiophile. Technology's equivalent of the wine snob.
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 4, 2005
  9. macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_1_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7E18 Safari/528.16)

    That thing looks massive! Wouldn't that take the "portable" out of MP3 player?
  10. macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2010
    OC, California
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Sadly it's both :(
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 20, 2010
    collingswood. nj
    ahhh... making fun of audiophiles for enjoying quality sound. Not cool.
  12. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    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
  13. macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    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...
  14. macrumors 6502

    Aug 24, 2009

    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.
  15. macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2009
    How does the Apple TV audio output compare to this device?
  16. macrumors 604


    Mar 26, 2008
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; de-de) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    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
  17. macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2001
    Newbury Park, CA
    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.
  18. macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2007
    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....
  19. Jodles, Sep 8, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011

    macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2008

    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.
  20. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2006
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-gb) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

    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.
  21. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 20, 2008
    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.
  22. macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2008
    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
  23. koruki, Sep 8, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011

    macrumors 6502a


    Aug 16, 2009
    New Zealand
    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 =)
  24. R3k, Sep 8, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011

    macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    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.
  25. macrumors newbie


    Jan 18, 2010

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