Get a Pure I-20 Ipod dock, about $100
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certain iPods will output a digital music stream, like the most recent ones, but the vast majority of the older ones (like the 5G iPod video) only outputs an analog signal out of the 30 pin connector. This means you have to buy a recent iPod and get a dock for it that has a digital coaxial or optical output in the back, then connect that to your integrated or DAC input. If you want to be iPod based, I recommend you go this route.
If you are apple-based, you might be able to control the iPod via AirTunes or whatever. I'm a PC, so can't advise in this area.
If you have an iPod, you most likely have a laptop or computer on which you are storing/managing your digital music. Use that computer's USB-A output, get a USB-A to USB-B cable, and connect your computer to the MF A5.5's USB-B input, try that too. You can get iPad apps that control your computer's iTunes or JRiver software. **then you don't have to get up to swap albums**
You must check your iPod and what version it is before even buying into anything else.
iPods that are older generation you cant take the digital extraction out of it unless you 'RockBox' it which is replacing the Operating System and quite hard to do.
If you have an iPod touch (basically an iPhone with no phone communication) then it will take the digital extraction.
Hope this helps.
I did a/b comparison between cd's and a wadia 170i ipod dock. I used the same songs, running through the same dac. I stream spotify premium. I could not tell any difference between spotify premium and cd's.
The sound was very good. Honestly, I think being able to access and stream 1,000's of songs is what kept me interested in this hobby. For some of us its about the equipment, but if you don't love music you'll lose interest in this hobby. If I had to continue buying cd's at $10-$15 each just to listen to them and only like a few songs, I'd be out of this hobby.
Thank you for all of the suggestions. I picked up the Pure i20 and am greatly enjoying both the convenience and the improved sound quality. The onboard DAC on that little guy is quite good---at least to my ear. Someday in the near future I'd like to try running the pure into a stand alone 'real' DAC but for now, I'm enjoying the iPod. Thanks again for the suggestions.