If all you want is a well-made cable you can get those from Blue Jeans Cables, Audioquest or even Monster. However, there are a couple of options to using the headphone jack you should consider if you want to get the best out of the iPod.
An iPod dock with a line-out jack would bypass the internal amplifier of the iPod, letting you plug the 3.5mm stereo mini to RCA cable into the dock and then to your amp. There are lots of docks available but you can pick up a genuine Apple brand dock on ebay for less than $10 and be in business.
You'd get even better sound using one of the docks that take the digital signal from the iPod, bypassing both the internal amp and internal DAC. Onkyo, Cambridge Audio, Wadia and others make them at various price levels. One I've heard highly recommended is the Pure i20, one of the least expensive of the digital docks at around $90.
For what you are asking...the best I've heard was a cable made for me using a teflon covered silver conductor but it was not day and night better than a standard one, just a little.
I think you would do much better with the Pure i20 that Sfar suggested. I use something similar to it for docking my iPod Touch and iPads to integrate with my stereo.
It's hard to imagine that the i20 at <100 would NOT be the way to go and at close to what the cable you seek might cost.
Instead, I highly recommend getting a Pure i20 digital ipod dock. It has a superb DAC that beats the DAC in the ipod. Only about $85 on Amazon. RCA analog and S/PDIF digital outs.
Hey Steve, A PureDigital i20 is on the way! Now, what kind of digital output cable should I use and to where does it go? Thanks for your help/ Mark
...and, in the mean time while I wait the the i20 stereo dock, shall I reupload the iTune songs with Apple's 'lossless encoding', and, if so, how? Appreciatively
Sar67- please explain what you mean by "re-uploading the iTune songs." In what format now are the songs you would be uploading? CDs, mp3, higher resolution downloads?
If the songs are already in mp3 format you won't gain anything by converting them to Apple lossless, they'll just be larger files that take up more room on your iPod but won't give you any better sonic quality. If you're re-ripping CDs into Apple lossless you'll get the same quality as CD at about half the file size, which is a good thing on a small iPod hard drive.
The Nano has uploaded songs from my CDs directly: AAC, 128kbps at 44.100 rate.
Steve, I have not gotten complete and accurate audiophyle information from any Apple person!!!
Just spoke with an Apple tech-guy. This is what he said.
(I just received the PureDigital i20 stereo dock and need to buy an optical cable so I can route the songs to my California Audion Labs D/A converter. But, I will do nothing until I hear from you and the Audiogon forum to make sure)
A senior tech said that my iPod Nano's 4 gig hard drive is too small to upload songs 'losslessly'. Currently, 287 songs take-up 1/3 of its hard drive space and with lossless re-ripping (necessary to do since the current upload quality is inferior) will take-up up to 10x more hard drive space.
Please help. Yours and his file size statements are quite different. Need I re-rip from the CDs to get CD-quality sound from the iPod through the i20 stereo dock? If not, how (and, can)shall I reprocess the already recorded songs at iTunes?
Thank you for your time.
The Apple tech gave you good information. It isn't quite true that you don't have room for any lossless files on your Nano but you won't be able to put many CDs on a drive that size.
Apple Lossless files take up about half as much space as the standard AIFF files on a CD but even at that you would have room for no more than 10 or 12 CDs, possibly fewer depending on the album lengths.
Yes, you do need to re-rip from the CD to get CD-quality sound. When you ripped the files at 128 kbps you threw away a lot of information and it's not possible to recover that by reprocessing those files to a different format. You'd get bigger files but they wouldn't sound any better.
If you are set on using the Nano and you want a large music collection on it a compromise might be to re-rip at a higher mp3 bit rate, like 320 kbps. It won't be CD quality but will let you put a lot more tunes on the Nano and they'll sound somewhat better than the low resolution files you now have on there.
If you want maximum quality playback and you want a lot of music accessible you'll definitely want an iPod with a much, much larger drive.
Thanks for the clarity.
After all this good information, I never got the i20 to work so off it went to the seller for a full refund!
Shall I buy another or research another model or brand?
Hope you are having a nice weekend.
Please explain why you couldn't get the i20 to work.Describe in detail all the pieces of your setup, including the cables. It's hard to give you advice about what to do next without knowing what the issue is.
I have recommended the i20 to several friends, audiophiles or not and they have all worked fine. The dac in the i20 is much better than the one in your ipod and you can use it with a better dac and get very good results. Just remember you have to use a lossless file to get good quality sound.
I used an optical cable to connect to the California Audion Labs Delta D/A devise. After the manufacturer advised through email exchanges that the devise was defective I returned it and Amazon credited me for the entire cost including shipping. I will re-rip the CDs with 'lossless' coding then buy another i20. Thank you for your advise.