Optimal Sound from iPod ? which portable amp

I am in the process of optimizing the sound output from my new iPod 60G/photo third generation.
I have been told that the following items are needed:

1. AppleLossless compression conversion from CD

2. SendStation PocketDock with line out/USB

3. Cablepro.com, Ear Candy pro cable from iPod to amp.

4. Earphones Ety ER-4P, Sure E5c

5. Portable battery operated amplifier:

This is where I am having trouble in the decision process. So far the best reviews seem to focus on three small amps:

I bought the Xin SuperDual Mini a few years ago with cross feed and bass boost. I was very happy with it until I bought the Sure E5C phones. Now there is way too much background hiss even with the volume turned all the way down. I don't have the line out PocketDock yet but if I plug the Sure phones directly into the iPod there is no hiss.

I now wish to upgrade my amp:

How does the new Xin Super Macro-3 differ from his SuperDual Mini iteration, especially with regard to the noise issue?

How does the Xin Super Macro-3 amp ($349) compare to the:

1. Meir audio Porta Corda MK III ($215)?

2. Emmeline SR-71(395)?

Have there been any reviews yet for the above 3 amps ??

Thanks for any help

All the best Dan

Try this website: www.head-fi.org

There are many reviews of the amps that you are mentioning as well as comparisons from portable headphone amps to tube-reference home headphone amps.

FYI, I am running my iPod Photo 60GB (Apple Lossless) with the Xin SuperMacro 3 (OPA627s), Zu Cables Pivot mini-mini cable, and Sennheiser HD650s with Stefan AudioArt cabling. The sound is quite stirring for a portable system.

For best sound quality, you have to run the iPod through the lineout which you have mentioned. I can confirm that this is the case.

For mini-mini cables, I have heard quite a few including:
Zu Cables Pivot
RnB Blue
and a couple of DIY cables
I like the Zu Cables Pivot best of all

I don't have a lot of experience with ear-bud type headphones so I can't comment too much, although the Shure and Etymotics are used by many of the website's members.

I believe that Ray Sammuals is releasing a new portable amp soon called the Hornet which is getting a lot of buzz as well as pre-orders.

I have heard the SR-71 (at a headphone meet) and like it as well, but ultimately choose the SuperMacro 3 which suits my tastes better. YMMV...

If I could give you a piece of advice, see if there is a headphone-audiophile group in your area and go to a meet.