A stereo mini (i-pod headphone) to rca (preamp in) cable should be fine. I use this set-up on all my systems with no problem. As long as your i-pod's volume is up fairly high, you shouldn't be have meaningful volume limitations. That is, the output level on the i-pod should be similar to (or maybe slightly lower than) the output level from a typical line level source.
PS - Belkin makes a product called the tune stage. It's a bluetooth (wireless) adc/transmitter that connects to your i-pod and a receiver/dac that connects to your pre-amp. This allows you to use your i-pod as a remote wirelss source up to +/- 35 ft. from your pre-amp.
Does anyone make a device that connects to the iPod through the dock connection? I'm wondering if this would be a better route than the mini-jack.
What you did should work. As Marty suggests, you might not have had the volume on the iPod set properly. It's also possible that there was an impedance problem with your preamp. Try before you buy (as always), but in general feeding iPods into a system is no big deal.
I haven't used this device but it does provide a line-level output through the dock connection on the iPod. Sendstation PocketDock Line Out
There are probably other similar accessories out there.
The dock is a much better way to go - it is a fixed output line out signal. Meaning that you need a volume control between the iPod and the amp - a small passive will do the trick.
There are a number of them on the market. Some key differences are:
1) Some are designed to also be simultaneously used as chargers, some are not.
2) Most are designed so that a mini jack then fits into the dock plug, a few are designed so that they can wired up directly to RCAs
Worth looking into the iMod from RedWine Audio. Vinnie does some tricks to pick off the audio out right after the DAC. Its a very sweet sounding rig.
Thanks for the info guys. I was quit underwhelmed when I tried using my iPod as my music source in my 2 channel system. I plugged it directly to my preamp using an Audience mini plug to RCA adapter. It sounded pretty in an A/B comparison.
It would make sense that dock connectors would be available since that is the way many car adapter work, as Ckorody said, simultaneously charging the unit.
The issue with the sound quality of your iPod may have as much to do with the integrity of the files on the iPod as it does with how you're getting your music from the iPod to your system.
You didn't say in your original post whether you're compressing the files and, if you are, by how much. An uncompressed or lossless file is likely to sound pretty good coming out through the dock as a line-out signal. In that case the quality of the sound is limited only by the quality of the digital to analog converter in the iPod.
If, on the other hand, your music has been compressed to 128 or 160 kbps, as most people do for their mp3 files, you've already thrown away enough data that there's no getting it back regardless of what you use to move it from the iPod to the system.
I'm using Apple Lossless and importing them through iTunes, so I was pretty disappointed when it sounded the way it did.
I have NAIM power supply for ipod - it helps.
If you use Apple Dock - the volume control on iPod works - so you won't need a pre-amp.
Why use the IPOD which will have an inferior DAC? I use it extensively for travel but at home...use your orginal files and use the PC as your main source: if another room there are wireless options such as Squeeze Box or Sonos, and both are likely to be better when using their optical output than using the IPOD via RCA jacks.
Go to www.audiolineout.com Ken sells some very good cables for the ipod in different flavors.
You might also go to Headfi, and put up a post, the guys there have a lot of really good info
I use my IPOD thru a dock plugged into the line out. Sound was pretty good until recently I purchased some upgraded cables, here on audiogone, and it really made a difference. I did an A/B comparison of "Jazz At The Pawnshop" with a CD and played thru my IPOD (lossless format) and the SQ was really close. The IPOD is great for causal listening and parties and the sound is more than acceptable. My Opinion....
agree on audiolineout....I use the jena one for connecting a portable headphone amp when traveling, and the difference it has made is significant
I just got the Sonus wireless system. PC to wireless....and using TosLink to my hi end DAC (DCC2). Far, far, far better than using an IPOD as a source, and I also have used the Audioline Out Jena cable (which is great for using w/ portable amps/IPOD on the go). Its not even close. Resolution, smooth everything. The difference is startling and I guess it should be given the DAC in the IPOD would be no match for the DCC2. If you already have a good DAC or CD player with a TOS link input, I strongly recommend it.
Friends have asked about an iPod-based system for a different part of the
house. What I was thinking about for them is a pair of the wonderful NHT
M-00's, which are powered speakers, and some kind of easy dock for them to
place their iPods in. Would something like www.keyspan.com/products/av/avdock/homepage.spml>this
Keystone work for this application? The remote would actually be a very good
feature for them.
I bought the similar Kensington Stereo Dock for both my daughters and it works really well for the situation you're describing. The Keyspan dock looks even better, though, with a better range of controls on the remote and the use of RF for the remote instead of infrared. I found the Kensington on sale for less than $30 and at that price it was a bargain.
Buy.com has the Kensington dock on sale for $20 right now.Kensington Dock