All iPads External DAC for iPad

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Bananas Ananas, Apr 30, 2015.

  1. Bananas Ananas macrumors regular

    Bananas Ananas

    Apr 30, 2015
    I just recently purchased myself an iPad Mini and would like to use it as my main music listening device. The headphone out provides pretty good audio to my headphones, but I'm pretty sure the sound quality could be slightly improved with an external DAC.

    I would prefer that the DAC would work right out of the lightning connection, but don't really mind if Apple Camera Connection Kit is required to make the DAC work. However, I do not want to hassle with powered USB hubs or anything like that.

    Does anyone here use DAC with iPad like this? Is this even possible? Which DACs are compatible with an iPad Mini?

    Thank you very much in advance for any input and assistance!
  2. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    There's the Apogee One, which connects to the lightning port and runs off AA batteries.

    Though really, if you've drank the DAC kool-aid enough that you feel the iPad's is inadequate and an external one is necessary, you might as well just get a Pono Player.
  3. Bananas Ananas thread starter macrumors regular

    Bananas Ananas

    Apr 30, 2015
    Thank you for your suggestion. Apogee One looks like a great device indeed! Do you have any experience using this?

    Furthermore, I don't think that iPad's DAC would be inadequate, nor that an external DAC would be necessary. I, however, feel that an external DAC could bring an improvement. It might be totally negligible and not worth the money, but it could also be a worthwhile investment with noticeable improvement. I don't have experience with external DACs and thus I'm here asking for information, so that I can make an informed decision in the end.

    I don't want to go Pono or equivalent route as I'd like to be able to sync and manage music through iTunes.
  4. BigHappyAl macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2015
    I am also thinking of the same (iPhone 6 to DAC via lightning camera kit). I have recently bought a new pair of shure es425s and feel I can get more out of the iPhone; my head phones deserve it :)

    So anyone with experience doing this? Recommended DAC? Fiio e07k?
  5. Mockenrue macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2013
    I've been using a FiiO e07k with my iPad for a few years now. The difference in quality with the DAC is considerable, even with my relatively inexpensive Sennheiser HD439s. One of the best audio purchases that I've made.
  6. BigHappyAl macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2015
    Was that a newer iPad with a lightning connection?
  7. robzr macrumors member


    May 4, 2006
    Portland, OR
    If you usually listen to music in one spot, another option to consider is using an Airport Express ($65 refurbished), and then using Optical digital output (mini-toslink) into a any standard DAC. It's bit-perfect (44.1kHz output) and lossless for streaming, if you are convinced that matters.

    A few benefits of going this route are that you can then use any standard DAC, and also you get to use your iPad without cables hanging off. And, no portable devices to charge. Suck it up on the portable use and slum it with the Apple analog output ;) Get a nice pair of in-ear phones for portable use and the lack of an outboard DAC/amp really won't bother you much.

    I use a setup like this with my iPad, and having no wires hanging off the iPad is really nice. For a while I tried some portable amp/DAC setups and they all ended up driving me nuts. I don't even travel with one anymore, I just use my Etymotic HF3s and IMO the simplicity totally outweighs the benefits of an outboard portable DAC/amp setup. Plus the noise cancellation of in-ear's are life-saving when you're flying, on public transportation, in an airport/restaurant/coffee shop. You could pay a ton of cash to get a low noise floor on some high end open air cans but if you listen to them in an environment with any ambient noise, it won't matter. So depends on your use somewhat. I got some Etymotic custom ear molds made and I can't imagine a better setup for portable use.

    I do much prefer the comfort and sound quality of nice big cushy Sennheiser HD series open ear cans with a decent amp/DAC for use at work or home though.

  8. Uofmtiger macrumors 68020


    Dec 11, 2010
    I have several Airport Express setup around the house, but as you mentioned, they are only useful when you are at home and for headphone setups you have to be sitting in the same spot.

    The setup I use for portability, when I want the best sound, is an iPad Air 2 (or iPhone 6 Plus), the lightning to USB connector, a Plugable USB hub (it tricks the Air 2 or 6 Plus into thinking it is getting power), and a Dragonfly Dac. While it does require the Plugable, the Dragonfly is very small, so the setup is less cumbersome than some of the battery powered setups. However, you can't charge the iPad/iPhone while using this setup, so you need to plan ahead. It has never been a problem for me with the iPad since I charge it every night, but it is something to consider.

    I have an article and video here. You can also look at some of the other pages if you are curious about the APE/DAC setups.

    Here is a pic of the setup (Note: there is also a T3hub in this picture, but it is for older setups like the 4S that do not work with the Plugable):


    FYI I have no idea if it will work with the iPad Mini since I don't own one to test.
  9. Mockenrue macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2013
    Both... used it with an iPad 3 and iPad Air. I only needed to buy the new connection kit adapter for lightning.
  10. Meir78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2015
    I have iPad 2 and would like to use this dac
    Would this work on my iPad?
    I have sennheiser 598s?
  11. double329 macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2008
    I am currently considering getting this Centrance HiFi-M8. I have the Headamp Pico that I got while back to use with the old 30pins. Now with new lightning, I am looking to get Hifi-M8.
  12. Mockenrue macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2013
    If you mean the older iPad 2 (and not iPad Air 2), you can connect the FiiO (and many other DACs) using the 30 pin camera connection kit from Apple. For any iOS device, you do need to turn off usb charging in the e07k's settings when connected to the iPad, but otherwise it works great. Since the last time I posted in this thread, I moved from the Sennheiser 439s to 558s. Yours should sound even better!
  13. Meir78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2015
    Yes I have the older model
    And thanks I have been wanting a dac for some time
    But was afraid that my pad was too old

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