Wadia 170i transport experience?


Looking for input on the wadia 170i. I currently have a nakamichi av-10 and am planning in the future to get the parasound a51 and halo c3 or hdp-70. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.

Joe in Mobile
magsterone
Just to clarify, the Wadia 170 is only good for outputting the signal of an ipod digital to a DAC.

I have one and it works good. It works better with the newer ipods. I have a classic 120 that I just got and the screen shows and you can control all functions while it's docked. My older 80GB ipod, you have to play what you want and then dock it and you can't control it or see anything but the Wadia symbol on the screen while it's playing. If you want to switch to something else for instance you have to take it off the dock, select what you want, hit play and then re-dock it. I've also had trouble using it with my iphone, where it will stop playing and give me a message that this accessory was not intended for use with iphone.

The good news is, that it sounds great. I think the files played from my ipod into a Zahallou DAC sound better than the same CD played on a Rotel CD player and outputted digital to the Zahallou DAC.
look @ this thread (might have discovered it yourself if you had searched the archives here) for a lot of info:
http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?ddgtl&1236884931&read&keyw&zzwadia=170
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I have one too, and it has helped me to rediscover the joys of my California Audio Labs Alpha tubed DAC, which is what I run it through (after the signal has first run through a Monarchy DIP, but it sounded pretty great even before I added the DIP to the mix). All my songs are downloaded/stored in Apple Lossless format (*not* MP3) in my iTunes, and I second what Ejlif says about songs sounding even better through the iPod/Wadia/DAC combo than through his transport/DAC combo (or the Alpha's matching CAL Delta transport in my case).

I see a lot of 'brand new - opened once' Wadia 170i Transports for sale here on Audiogon and it makes me wonder if others gave it a shot and it just didn't do it for them. To me, it is a device that has finally combined convenience and great sound with little compromise (and I'm a tube/vinyl guy who doesn't really mind 'inconvenience'). I love just picking a genre like "Jazz", setting it to 'Shuffle Songs", and then letting it roll (I work from home now and have music playing pretty much all day and evening). I've also had a lot of fun tube-rolling in the Alpha thanks to the addition of the Wadia.

Can't hurt to take a chance on one if you have a DAC. They are still in demand and sell all day long here on Audiogon for $300-$325, so it may cost you $50 or so to give it a shot and then sell it if you don't like it.
Good luck!
Chopper21 let me borrow his for review. ( I was skeptical ) so I hooked it up to my old Threshold DAC2. Long story short, it will make CD's obsolete. That is if you take the time to record in Apple Loss-less or other high end option) Not only was I hearing things never I heard before ( especially in the macro sense ) but the sound-stage was excellent as well. The remote is useful, but this oldie can't see the display screen from across the room. Problem is, now I want my own. R.I.P. CD's. Say, why aren't there other companies offering one besides Wadia?.......... Can anyone suggest a few inexpensive DAC's to mate with it? The Cambridge Audio unit looks like a nice match. Thanks.
Music Hall DAC 25.2 if you dont want to spend too much on a DAC. It's a tube DAC with 4 digital inputs.
06-24-09: Jab
Bombaywalla,
What type of link did you send us to? The question was a general one on how this player performs, not on what type of mods help the unit. I do not think a Nak. person is into mods.
I am also looking at the Wadia and Ejlif your answer helps.
Jab, this question on how a Wadia i170 works is asked again & again.
Altho' the link I sent you talks a lot about whether to mod or not to mod the i170 BUT if you read that thread you will get a lot of info about how the Wadia i170 works, what is good about it & what is not. There are excerpts from very experienced people like Steve Nugent & there is a whole tear-down report from Gordon Rankin who is considered a pioneer in the computer audio arena. You will also read which DACs others used to change/improve the sound.
When people mod certain sections of a product that itself tells you that those sections are most likely compromising the sonics & this itself goes towards answering the question of how well a Wadia i170 works.
So, altho' this might seem like a convoluted answer to a simple question of how well the Wadia i170 works, you will realize the question does not have a simple answer!
Different people have different criteria based on which they select the Wadia i170 (or something else) so different pieces of info have more or less meaning to different people.
I believe that if you read that thread you will be quite well educated on the Wadia i170 & your yourself will be able to the question posed in this thread.
There is a wealth of important info on the Wadia i170 in that thread.
I think that you saw the title which said "to mod or not to mod" & you just blew it off! Let the title not misguide you.
I own and love a Wadia 170i; however, it's only as good as the DAC you send the signal to. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you probably want one of the many devices available that take an iPod's analog output (as opposed to digital) and sends out a line level signal to a home music system. Teamed with the very best DACs with strong reclocking capacity, it's a wonder.

Dave
..... with strong reclocking capacity ......

Dave
Dcstep
Ach, the magic words (IMHO) pertaining to the Wadia i170!!!

Jab, essential details as the one quoted above (& why they matter for the i170) were discussued in that thread whose link I provided. Don't assume I'm a fool for trying to misguide you! ;-)
The question I have would the wadia sound good going to my nakamichi av-10 thru the coaxial output of the wadia to the coaxial input of my av-10? Thanks.

Joe in Mobile
Sorry Joe, I read three reviews of the AV-10 and no one really talked about it's reclocking ability. Being that it's Nakamichi, I'd expect better than average performance, so I think it's a relatively safe bet. Unfortunately the Wadia does seem to increase jitter, so the problem is likely with more than half the DACs out there.

It's inexpensive enough that I'd recommend buying it new from a supplier with return privileges. If you try it in your system and don't find it great in every way, then return it.

Dave
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It sounds like the Wadia will work with your Nakamichi. But my impressions of the Wadia are similar to those of Jab. My DAC is a Northstar M192, which has two digital coax inputs. My intention was to use the Wadia for music and my $170 Oppo 980H universal player for audio while watching DVDs. I am using the same digital cables for each source, Analysis Plus Digital Oval cables, and each source is plugged into the coaxial inputs on the Northstar.

Although I initially liked the Wadia well enough, at this point I have found to my surprise that I prefer music played through the Oppo rather than the Wadia. The Wadia is more convenient, but the sound quality is warm and fuzzy, and lacks a fair amount of detail. Supposedly, the digital signal out of the Wadia has a fair amount of jitter, which may explain my impression. Of course, you can always try to fix this issue with mods or reclocking devices (using a Monarchy DIP for $200 or an Empirical Audio Pace Car for $1800), but then you are starting to talk real money that might be put to better use with a transport. It all depends on how much you value convenience.
Would the wadia just plug straight into the back of the nakamichi via the coaxial cable? I am waffling whether it is worth a $300+ experiment to find out how it sounds. I have spent more than this foolishly at times, but times are alot tighter. Still....? ;)

Joe in Mobile
IMO if you use one with a DAC that reclocks the signal, it'll perform extreemly well. My experience is opposite of that of JAB, my CDP went bye-bye after comparing it to the i170 and my DAC. I'd hate going back to a CDP type setup. To each their own, read the archives, there is myriads of differing opinions. It is 'my' opinion that the i170 gets a bad rap if the setup doesn't work. Hey, maybe my CDP wasn't as good as I think. :)
I have never used a dac. How would I use it in the setup with my nakamichi? What type of dac?

Joe in Mobile
IMO if you use one with a DAC that reclocks the signal, it'll perform extreemly well.
Jab, this seems to be the key for the i170 unit unfortunately. Perhaps a $400 unit could have done better by using a better receiver rather the one they actually used - quite likely. But as an outsider it's hard to know what the real costs to manuf are for the unit & what sort of royalties are going to Apple.

As for the foolish mods available (and yes I did read the tweekers link, which was time lost)
Jab, This link was provided to you so that you could read all that info & distill from it what the pros & cons of the i170 were, what the inner workings of the unit were & why unit sounded like it did. However, it seems that was a wasted effort because, you, like the other forum member, couldn't get past the thread heading. It looks like that info went above your head - because if you had actually assimilated it you would not have bought the i170 to use in your particular system. It was clear (to me atleast) that you would be met with mediocre results, which you were.
And, when it's your incompetence you go & blame the product, suggest that the 2nd iteration will solve the issue, etc! Yes, the product is flawed (& that was described in that link in great details) & there is a way to use it (unless you are willing to live with the compromised sound & many area) such that you get better sonics.
What's the point of posting on a forum when you cannot comprehend & assimilate the info that is being given to you?? You are wasting your time & the forum members'.
Joe, I said earlier in the thread, "It's inexpensive enough that I'd recommend buying it new from a supplier with return privileges. If you try it in your system and don't find it great in every way, then return it."

Why don't you take that advice? It looks like no one with direct experience with the Wadia/Nakamichi is going to come along and remove all risk for you by telling you it will or won't work.

I can tell you that it works great in my system. Right now it's the only option out there that I know of that bypasses the iPod's DAC, so if you chance for the best sound possible off an iPod you'll need to try it in your system.

Dave
Hi,
Don't take it personally that I asked the question again. I am not familiar with dacs so I was asking the question for enlightenment. I realize that no one has replied specifically re/nakamichi and the wadia, but hope springs eternal. Thanks and again don't take it personal, sometimes I like to ask questions twice. Thanks again.

Joe in Mobile
If you're speaking to me, I'm taking nothing personally. I'm just trying to help you make some progress.

Widipedia will give you a quick definition of a DAC (digital to analog converter).

Still, it's a device that's either stand alone or part of an iPod or CDP or SACD player or computer that converts a digital signal to an analog signal. The Wadia is special in that it takes the iPod's digital signal and bypasses the iPods relatively low resolution DAC so that you can convert the digital signal to analog using a better DAC. All other iPod docking stations merely take the iPods analog output (after the DAC) and send it out as an analog signal.

The PROBLEM with the Wadia or the program it uses to route this digital signal out of the iPod is that it adds jitter. Jitter is time distortion of the digital signal itself. This can be fixed by "reclocking" the digital signal. There's a digital clock that governs the DAC and may or may not reclock the input from external sources. Just like a DAC, a digital clock can be a stand alone divice, but it's usually a component within a larger piece of equipment, like a CDP or SACD player or a digital receiver.

No one that's responded so far knows if your Naka reclocks and/or does a good job in this regard. I've scanned three reviews of the Naka and see no mention of its reclocking capacity and quality. You can be the first to report if you'll accept the assignment. ;-)

Dave
I'll accept the assignment, but it will have to wait a bit. I'll keep y'all posted when I do.

Joe in Mobile
I like the convenience of use of my Wadia 170i - I replaced my Reimyo 777 CDP for a Wadia 170i/Reimyo DAC combo (that happens to be exactly the same DAC of my Reimyo 777 CD ) and.... I do not miss the CDP at all.

Caveat - I use a quite expensive Siltech coax cable from the Wdia to the Reimyo to really get closer enough to my original digital source.

Saying that - it is not as convenient as having either a Mac or an AppleTV as digital storage the Wadia's emote has very limited functionality and the iPOD screen is far away from my listeining chair to really see what is playing.

and... do not forget that only WAV files are acceptable for proper reproduction.

Regards,
and... do not forget that only WAV files are acceptable for proper reproduction.
An opinion I do not agree with, nor many others, though an endless debate.
Flg2001 said:
"and... do not forget that only WAV files are acceptable for proper reproduction."

With a good upsampling DAC and precise clock, error corrected Apple Lossless can't be distinguished from the original WAV files.

Dave
Dave - I originally had all my music library in Apple Lossless format - and it was very listenable and close to my reference - the Reimyo CDP777 at that time. I am sure that many will be more than well served with this format in their iPODS listening thru the 170i.

Converting those files to WAV (only those files ripped from CDs as we know, since iTUNES downloads are not HiRez yet) gave me a little extra definition in the upper frequencies (just a tad) and placed it closer to the Reimyo at the expense of the files size.

Fernando
You clearly have better hearing than me Fenando as I compared .wav, .aiff and apple lossless and could in no way tell a difference.
Fernando, I have no doubt that what you're saying is true, with your DAC. I'm saying that with my DAC there is no difference because the upsampling program and reclocking is so good. My DAC upsamples to DSD-level and applies an alogarythm that challenges any format. Pure DSD IS better and so is 24/192, but no much else.

Dave
Dumb question, but I really do not understand something.I have been an Audiophile for my whole life , but computers are a new thing for me.

My daughter bought me for Fathers day a Minin Ipod Shuffle, (the type that clips on to a shirt) to play my tunes while cutting the 13 Acres of grass.

Anyway, I downloaded about 500 songs to I tunes and the Ipod shuffle works great!

But, to go further, and say I buy a I POD Classic 120 and the Wadia Docking station.
Wouldnt I have to store thousands of my songs onto my computer before down loading them into the new Ipod Classic 120 ?

Wouldnt that take up a large portion of my Computers hard drive to do this?
Wouldnt I have to store thousands of my songs onto my computer before down loading them into the new Ipod Classic 120 ?

Wouldnt that take up a large portion of my Computers hard drive to do this?
Yes and yes.

That said, another option is to purchase an external hard drive and process all your iTunes on that.
Brianmgrarcom , Thank you for the help.
I guess I need to get in touch with the Computer generation.
i've been using the 170i > musical fidelity tri vista 21 DAC for a week. I don't know if the run in period is still not passed yet or the 170i is passing too much information to my DAC. I found it sound pretty harsh and the lower notes are not as noticible compares to using a traditional CDP (I'm using musical fidelity A3.2 cdp as transport)I hope it can sound the way i want it to in another week or i'll return it.
I would say something else is going on as I doubt there is much break-in needed with it; I find it interesting and odd all the varying results people have as all mine have been positive, and that while comparing a couple other setups. Do you know if the MF DAC reclocks the signal?
I updated my analog front end and left my digital one seeing no use for a month or more - I just started to re-listen to the Wadia170i/Reimyo combo and continues to amaze me.

My analog source is better in many regards compared to the digital combo, but I could live happy just having the Wadia 170/Reimyo as the only available option in my system.

Not sure if the Reimyo is such a terrific DAC, or if the Siltech interconect is a great match for the Wadia, but it is definitely working!.
I don't think the MF Tri-vista 21 does reclocking. Though, i can write a little review for the 2 weeks i spent with the wadia. You might get different results with other DACs.

I've confirmed that 170i does provide more detail compares to the a3.2 in the upper range. Though, it lacks the smooth mid and deep bass that i can find from the a3.2. I've listened to a few well recorded classicals. The 170i has wider soundstage but violin doesn't sound as sweet as the a3.2.

I feel A3.2 performs vocal better than 170i does with my setup. the 170i made me feel tired very easily but I never wanted to stop the cd in the a3.2. a3.2 does sound smoother compares to the 170i.

may be the 170i just can't fit into my system. I did think about playing the reclock trick ($250-$1800)but i would rather keep my system simple as getting an audio grade power strip will be another grand and i don't think the 170i is worth that much trouble in my setup. I might be able to get a better CDP that fits my setup for that price (ipod: $150 refurb, 170i:$380, decent DAC: $1000, decent power strip: $800-$1000, reclocker: $1800, total= $4000+) with better resell value.

Anyway, you might be able to find your need from this 170i, i just couldn't. ~
Anyone try the 170i with a Benchmark DAC1 which isn't affected by jitter?
Gherrera1, I use a 170i with a DAC that reclocks the signal and it works excellent for me; I compared it to my Meridian G08 CDP transport and I, and others, could in no way distinguish a difference.
Brianmgrarcom, I think a reclocker or jitter immune DAC is the way to go with the 170i. I may have to pick one up for my set up!
may be the 170i just can't fit into my system. I did think about playing the reclock trick ($250-$1800)but i would rather keep my system simple as getting an audio grade power strip will be another grand and i don't think the 170i is worth that much trouble in my setup. I might be able to get a better CDP that fits my setup for that price (ipod: $150 refurb, 170i:$380, decent DAC: $1000, decent power strip: $800-$1000, reclocker: $1800, total= $4000+) with better resell value.

Anyway, you might be able to find your need from this 170i, i just couldn't. ~
Hei83

Hei83, the way you have written about your i170 experience, it seems to me that you've tried very hard to sub-optimize the i170 in your system. It comes to me as no surprise that the i170 did not work in your system. I think that your setup was slighted/biased to make the i170 not work for you!
And, your thinking re. keeping your system simple by buying another audio grade POWER STRIP is just simply ludicrous. What the hell will a audio grade power strip do (besides choking your system)??? If you lose the music signal in your front-end source, it's gone forever! No audio grade POWER STRIP will bring it back!

Who said that a decent DAC needs to cost $1000? There are several non oversampling, great sounding DACs out there that are in the $500 or less category.
Who also said that a reclocker should cost $1800? You should be able to find a Monarchy DIP 24/96 for ~$200.
Or, better yet: some of the DACs have re-clockers built-in. Brianmgrarcom can suggest atleast one to you.

You might not still like the i170 but atleast do your best (& not your present half-assed attempt) to make it work to its fullest potential in your system.
hi Bombaywalla,

My review doesn't sound like most of the 170i user's opinion but it is my opinion. Like i said, i want to keep my system simple. If it doesn't sound right, please disregard my review. I tried to find a button to remove it here but i couldn't find one. Like I said, it is just how it sounds in my specific system "in my opinion". Different people can have different opinions on the same equipment, right?

It is an innovative product, getting data from a solid state hard drive resolves a lot of problems. Though, it doesn't fit into my specific system. One of the problems is that i want to keep my system in my small room simple.

Yes bom, you are correct. I can use the Dip and a $500 DAC but i want to get the most out of this ipod transport. Can a $200 dip and a $500 dac get the most out of it? I don't know non i wanted to try because it will then have more power cables and an extra power strip. Cost adds up fast.

I apologize if my review sounds biased/harsh etc and my present half-assed attempt. Wadia will have the 121/151 coming out soon, i do look forward to it.

Thank you
My review doesn't sound like most of the 170i user's opinion but it is my opinion.
Not a problem here, Hei83. Your opinion is your opinion & it is a valid opinion. I am not trying to change it!
BTW, I do not own a Wadia i170 so it does not matter to me whether you like it or not....

Can a $200 dip and a $500 dac get the most out of it?
so, what kind of mentality is this???
Do you think that the cost of an audio product is directly proportional to its performance???
Do you think that just because it's a $200 re-clocker & a $500 DAC that you'll get poor performance from it in your system??? Do you know this for a fact i.e. have you listened to such components in your system OR are you merely regurgitating what you have read on the various forums that inexpensive products yield poor performance???

What I was trying to point out was that you did not give the Wadia i170 a chance to perform in your system. Atleast give the component all that it needs to perform before you say that it does not work for you. That's all.
Interesting finding since I tried an AppleTV (same WAV files that on my iTouch) connected thru a Toslink cable (only digital-out option from the AppleTV) to the same Reimyo DAC I have.

Much better interfase since now I can browse from a 15 inch monitor close to my tired eyes - but - not sure if it sounds as good as the Wadia 170i yet (just a few hours of listening so far).

Could it be that the Siltech coax cable used with the Wadia 170i is a better digital interfase than the Kimber toslink (optical) one?

or is it that a SS storage capabilities of the iTouch is a better option than the IDE disk in the AppleTV?

More later....
hey Flg2001

I did study about the 170i a bit. IMO, solid state creates less noise and more stable compares to the traditional disk. Also even toslink and coax are transferring the same signal, toslink has to transform the digital signal into light > pass through the optical cable > transform the light back into the digital signal. It takes more steps than using a coax cable and that might be what makes people saying coax is a better digital interface than toslink in short length connection.
Flg2001
Please let us know your honest opinion of the AppleTV once you have spend more time listening.I am undecisive whether I should go with ipod classic 120gb/Wadia 170 itransport/my DAC or the AppleTV hooked to my DAC.Also how big the AppleTV comes?I seen some 500gb at ebay.
Regards
George
Hei83: Thanks for bringing that placing some "light" (no pun) to the difference between toslink and coax, that should have some drawbacks in the audible side of the system.

Yioryos: I have not devoted that much of a time to compare the Wadia170i to the AppleTV, first impressions showed that the Wadia was a tad better in resolution and ambience, but I need at least a whole week to back-up this statement.

Regards,
I just got a reply from wadia:

................. The 121 DAC (due out in early 2010) shares the same chassis as the 170iTransport and will be available in both black and silver powder coat finishes. It can be stacked with the 170iTransport or will fit next to the it on a shelf due to its small size. Even though it will be small, it will have twenty years worth of Wadia DAC technology packed into its small chassis. It will have a digital coax to work with the 170iTransport or another unit that uses that type of connection. It will also have USB, Toslink and AES/EBU for compatibility with many digital audio products currently available. It will have a pair of Balanced and Single Ended analog outputs as well as a built-in headphone amplifier.

Because it follows in a long line of Wadia DACs, it will share many of the technologies that Wadia has perfected over the past 20 years. It will use our patented DigiMaster upsampling software and also will allow the user to control volume and balance with the 121 using our Direct-Connect technology. We reclock the incoming digital signals so that Jitter is reduced to a minimum.

While the 121 is designed to complement the 170iTransport, it is by no means meant to only sell with it. The 121 will make an extraordinary DAC for many people looking for better performance out of all or their digital devices. Please let me know if you have any other questions that I may answer.................

It seems like wadia got a solution for 170i 's jitter issue now. It may be worth a try again once the 121 DAC is available.
Sound interesting Hei83, the Wadia is a great sounding product - it is a shame that it is not easy to interact with thou.
It seems like wadia got a solution for 170i 's jitter issue now. It may be worth a try again once the 121 DAC is available.
There are a myriad of DACs that reclock now that work
excellent with it.