wadia ipod dock-- anyone find faults?

see good things but also see resales after short use. anyone care to comment on weaknesses?
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i just went back over the other threads, anyone have new thoughts. i saw one comment that there were other ways to get this done, perhap better, with wireless plus computer. however is ther any other ipod based solution better than this wadia?
I am also very interested in this ipod dock but see it requires a DAC, just what is a Digital to Analog Converter and what improvements do you gain from incorporating such a unit?
just what is a Digital to Analog Converter and what
improvements do you gain from incorporating such a unit?

Music. You get music.

A DAC converts a digital signal to an analog signal. Music is analog.

Without a DAC, you get a signal made up of very high-frequency pulses,
audible to bats.

It still wouldn't be music even to the bats. It only becomes music when you
count the pulses, then use the numbers to generate an analog signal. That's
what a DAC is for.
Tobias, being a big fan of the Batman I can truly appreciate your simplistic explanation. Thanks.
Dreadhead, your excellent question clearly drove me...
Your question was very very basic and you could easily find out the answer by searching the topic but I guess you chose to expose yourself by asking in the open forum.It is like going to a soccer game and ask the people around you,what is this game and how is it played?I am sure everybody will turn and look with raised eyebrows.Anyway now you know the answer and welcome to the audionuts club here.
Years ago when I was a graphic designer, a client was hanging out at our studio and he asked, "so, what is graphic design?" My co-worker and I looked at each other and I could see he was ready to stab. We almost beheaded this guy and stuck his skull on a spike in the hallway. Heheh.

But seriously, Dreadhead's question sparked my own question. Does the Wadia iPod Dock bypass the iPod's internal DAC? I didn't even know Apple offered a digital output on iPods. Or is it just like all the other iPod DACs? A fancy place to seat your 'Pod?

A few years ago I tried one of those iPod adapters from a respected audio cable manufacturer and thought it sounded pretty poor because it was still utilizing the DAC in the iPod.

I'm looking into the Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 3 Audio Converter so I can use the USB to I2S feature between a computer and an outboard DAC.
The key with the wadia is that it does bypass the dac in the ipod, allowing you to use your own dac (hopefully a much better one-which isn't difficult to do considering the dac in the ipod). You do need a dac; the wadia is the first to be given the propriatary info by apple to bypass it.

And...usb is NOT the way to go. Firewire blows it away. Can't believe it hasn't caught on yet.

Yeah, I'm no fan of USB when it comes to computer devices, I always prefer Firewire in this realm.

I wasn't aware there are Firewire DACs available. Why do you feel Firewire is superior to USB in computer audio? For the same reason as in data transfer, speed and a more stable power line?
I was taught to believe there are no stupid questions.
As an analog fan I could not understand why someone would want to convert a digital signal to analog, just stick with you records and you should be fine. I did not find the compact disc satisfying myself so I pretty much never really came on board. Don't get me wrong, I have owned many CD's in my time just never really enjoyed them so much as my vinyl.
So we invent a digital signal and then invent a way to make it sound analog? Hmmmm. I always thought that less was more.
I like Tobias's explanation. I now love my iPod and the ease it gives me to enjoy my favorite recordings, in a lossless format of course.
When I don't understand something I am never embarrassed to ask a question, not asking would be more of an embarrassment. Does one have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy ones music, I think not.
Sorry Dreadhead, I was just joking around.

I like simplicity as well, and from a different perspective that's probably why I like digital. Put a small shiny disc into a metal box and press a button. VoƮla!

There are many people like you that don't like the sound of the digital format. I've never really warmed up to all these over/up-sampling DACs myself. I prefer the non-oversampling variety or the tubed ones. They sound more natural. More real. More, er...analog.
Gunbei, please, no apology necessary. I enjoy a thread that causes one to think as well as to laugh, especially at ones self. I find there are many things in life I do not understand and question on a daily basis. I hope to never stop learning.
Yioryos, expose myself? Do you mean in my ignorance on the subject matter? I take no shame in exposing myself. By the way, I don't understand the scoring systems in golf or tennis, and I can't play chess either. Now I stand completely naked. Not a pretty sight.

My biggest issue with usb were the dropouts. I couldn't get into PC sound as I was just waiting for a stumble. With firewire, there aren't any hiccups at all. The sound with firewire is just more flowing, more musical. I get a nice soundstage, low level resolution, slam, presence of the instruments, air - all which was missing from usb. I don't know of any firewire dacs. I use an MAudio firewire to spdif converter into my dac. Two other issues - first, with firewire, you aren't limited to dacs with a usb input - any dac is fair game. Second, and more improtant - usb was never intended to be used for audio pass through, while firewire was. USB was created to hook up peripherials (printers, mose, keyboard, scaner, etc) and nothing more. USB transmits packest of info - which is't the way to go for pc audio. Firewire streams the data. Much, much better.
Dreadhead, I'm a vinyl guy myself, but it didn't stop me from getting a high end CD (and SACD) rig. The convenience is tough to beat (only beaten by my squeezebox but I do make great compilations with my Alesis Masterlink and do play them on my cd player, and can listen to my favorite pieces of music without getting up). I love vinyl but sometimes, I'm just not in the mood to spend 10 minutes cleaning a disc only to get 20 minutes of music. I love dozing off to one of my favorite pieces of music after a nice glass of wine sitting in my sound room. You can't do that with vinyl. Some of my sacd's give my vinyl a close run. Part of the hobby, to me, is to try to master all of the available sources. I have a macintosh tuner as well - and even though FM rolls off at 15k hz, sometimes, when I'm in the mood to hear new music that I don't know what's being played next, I enjoy it. Don't get me wrong-nothing beats the ceromony of playing a record but, sometimes, it just isn't practical for me.
Cerrot, all very valid points, hence my journey into the world of digital posts. I am slowly weaning myself from my vinyl dependency, and with the help of knowledgeable people like yourself and the all the other fine folks who contribute to posts like this it could and should be a fun ride. Thanks for your help guys.

Easy is't always better, but it's always fun.
Another audiophile friend of mine and I hooked up the Wadia ipod dock. I was running MP4s also called Apple lossless through my ipod.

We had read in the new Absolute Sound that the sound was supposed to be just slightly better using lossless and the Wadia. I was excited so I headed out to our local dealer and borrowed one to check it out.

We were both pretty let down once we hooked it up. The sound was not even close to as good as a red book cd. It was a lot more compressed. Lossless compresses a song by 40% and it sounded worse in pretty much every aspect you could rate audio in. You could sit anyone down in front and do an a b a comparison and they would be able to pick the cd over the wadia.

I paired the Wadia with the bel canto dac 3 and then compared it against the bel canto cd 2. Using the same cd that the lossless was ripped off of and the same digital cable to switch back and forth between the two. We tried a few different songs and recordings and they all came out the same. Not so good!

So our verdict is if you want to seriously listen break out your cd's or better yet vinyl. If your doing some housework or something and want some background noise then the Wadia will fit the bill. It is nice to not have to flip through cd's but it is not engaging at all.

I'm going to try to rip the same cd in the wav format and see how that fares. I'll post the results in the next couple days. Only problem is you can't fit that much wav music onto an ipod. It's about 10mb per minute of music which adds up quick!
There are several published reviews, including one on 6moons, where the reviewer indicates they can hear the difference between Lossless and full WAV files via the Wadia 170i.

You may want to give the WAV files a try and report back.
What is the name of the product that transfers the firewire to spdif? So, i can run a firewire from my mac mini into this and output spdif?
I gave it another try with Wav files instead of lossless and they were really close. I still preferred the redbook cd over the wav files but they were at least on the same playing field.

The only problem with Wav files is that they are pretty big and the Ipod isn't. The newest Ipod is 160gb and an average cd is almost 500mb in Wav. This means you could fit 80 cd's worth of music on your ipod. Which is definitely good but the idea of having all of your music in one little device for audiophiles isn't quite here yet.

It would work well if you set up a really long playlist of all of your favorite audiophile tunes. I think I'm going to wait for a bit myself or just hook up a laptop in the mean time.
Kmelancon, I probably sound like a broken record on these posts, but it is my opionion, and I am not alone, that if you are hearing a difference where you prefer your CD over your copied file, it has something to do with the gear itself, not the files nor do I feel there should be any real noticeable difference between Apple Lossless vs. .wav.

Whether the iPod is a viable option for someone is independant of each person.

I save files in Apple Lossless and have all my music on a 160g iPod with a lot of room left yet, others may have much more music than me.

Using a laptop, as you suggest, has many pluses to it and this to will become more and more popular.

Kmelancon, be sure to use error correction when ripping to Lossless and wav. I'm using the Wadia 170i with the internal, upconverting DAC of my Playback Designs MPS-5 CD/SACD player, using an iPod Classic 160G as the transport. The results are stunning, with undetectible differences between the RBCD playback and the iPod via Wadia/Playback Designs..

There are a few files on my iPod that don't sound quite right and I suspect that I recorded them without error correction, or the files got corupted some other way. When I'm certain that the file is correct, then the performance is excellent.

The Bel Canto DAC 3 reclocks doesn't it? If so, then I'd think that you'd get good results. Are you running the CDP into the Bel Canto when doing the CD vs. iPod comparison? If not, it's possible that your CDP's DAC is better than the Bel Canto (generally unlikely, but possible).


I was really hoping the Lossless format would live up to it's name "lossless". But it just didn't. I'm no expert but anytime you compress something I'd be surprised if you didn't lose something from that process.

Your right about fitting more music on your ipod if your using apple lossless but it's still not quite 3 cd's per gb. Which would be getting closer if you weren't taking a significant hit in the quality of your sound.

Take a few minutes and record some wav files onto your ipod. Do an A / B / A comparison between them and your lossless and let us know if you get the same results that I did.


I did record my lossless files with error correction.

Have you tried the comparison between lossless and wav yourself?

There are 3 of us here in Minneapolis that have all tried the same test and all of us came out with the same results. With 2 different systems.

80 cds @ 500mb per cd could be stored on a 40gb ipod. Have found that they average about 400mb per cd or 400 cds on 160gb ipod.
I have 40gb of music on my ipod and doubt I will ever fill it. And yes they are Wave files.
The difference in soumd will be in the digital to audio conversion and outputs used. I have three types of outputs-analog, tube and opamps. Each sounds slightly different but the differences stem from the output not the input.
Take a few minutes and record some wav files onto your ipod. Do an A / B / A comparison between them and your lossless and let us know if you get the same results that I did.
I did do this Kmelancon. When I first recieved my iPod, I read many comments online about it, and then tried it for myself. I did Apple Lossless, .wav and .aiff; I spent some time playing these over and over and over and I could not distinguish any difference between them. (Knowing more now, I do not I think I should.)

I take comfort in the fact that people smarter than I have also concluded the same. I cannot understand why you have different results.

Here are some comments I posted on another thread about why Apple Lossless is just that, "lossless", if I understand it correctly.
Kmelancon asked:


Have you tried the comparison between lossless and wav yourself?"

No, I only compared the original CD to lossless, using the iPod G160 as the transport and my Playback Designs MPS-5 as the DAC. For CD I used the Playback Designs. I couldn't distinguish between the original CD and the lossless files.

In your tests, did you use the same DAC? Which DAC did you use?

hey guys, I had to chime in , I was there for the a-b-a
shoot out at kmelancons and with the gear on hand it was not even close ! I know how people like to exaggerate for effect when discribing what they hear, but the cd had more space , air and presence compared to the wadia, the wadia
seemed to round everything off , this effect was real and very apparent to us, it was not subtle ! maybe with lesser gear it would not be an issue. the idea that the wadia is better than cd sound is a joke. chrissain
Chrissain, which DAC was the Wadia going through and which DAC was the CDP going through?



11-12-08: Kmelancon writes:
I paired the Wadia with the bel canto dac 3 and then compared it against the bel canto cd 2.

So you used the DAC3 for both? If so, which digital input did you use on the DAC3 and was the same IC used on both sources?

How does the CD 2 by itself compare to the CD2/DAC3 combo?

I'm not trying to bust your chops. It's just that my experience with the MPS-5's DAC is totally different from yours with the DAC3. Both DACs reclock and focus a lot on jitter reduction, but perhaps there's a difference there. It's easy to understand that the Wadia's ultimate performance is DAC-dependent. Still, I would have expected better performance with a DAC3. I've received excellent reports with the Benchmark and Emm DACs.

I would like to add:

When I first received my Wadia, I plugged in and connected it to my Playback Designs MPS-5's DAC and started listening. Generally everything was very good, BUT some recordings sounded tonally off, to the extent that vocal character was distorted. Diane Hubka, for instance, sounded a little throatier than usual.

This is despite having ripped all my archive with lossless and error correction turned. Still, I re-ripped several of the offending CDs and the coloration went away.

I having a feeling that, since Mr. Jobs doesn't give a crap about high fidelity, lossless may not be 100% reliable, even with error correction. All were ripped from a crappy computer transport. I have occasionally had to abort a rip because the error correction was slowing things down slower than real-time. When I re-ripped, then the transfer speeded up, but still showed some delay due to error correction.

So, I'm here trying to review the Wadia and I'll say without reservation that it's an excellent performer when fed accurate files and played through an excellent DAC. However, as this thread shows, YMMV.

In my system, third generation files played back through the iPod/Wadia/MPS-5 combination sound superior to the original CDs played through either my Oppo or Pioneer Elite DV-58AV. The same third generation files can't be distinguished from the original CD played through the PD MPS-5 CDP.

Chrissain, I am not sure if your exaggeration comment was meant for you or others, mainly Dave and I. I have no reason to exaggerate, I had kept my CDP on hand until I fully compared everything; if the Wadia combo wouldn't have performed well I would have sold it and posted my experience as so.

Nonetheless, my results basically mirror Daves, which also mirror three published reports I have read. I do not doubt your results just question why. Dave has posted his questions trying to determine if the compare was done as apples-to-apples as possible.

There are so many ways to compare, not only are there the formats, there is...the iPod/Wadia/output types/DAC vs. CDP or iPod/Wadia/using your CDP as a DAC, which is the closest to comparing against your CDP. I tried them all.

Lastly, if anyone feels there is any major difference between Apple Lossless and .wav, it is my opinion you are deceived.

These are just my opinions, people can do with them as they like.

hi brian, the comment was for all of us, you know how it is , we put cable x in the system and the sound was totally transformed!!!!!! audiophiles like to discribe small diffences as huge, myself included. this ws not the case however with the wadia, it was very real and apparent that the wadia was not as good as the cd transport on hand, why is another story. we used the bel canto cd2 fed by stereovox bnc cable . switching cables from the wadia to the cd2 . maybe the cd2 is just a very synergistic match with the dac 3, they were made for use with each other. chris
One last step I'd suggest, if you interested, re-rip some of the lossless files with error correction into iTunes and resync the iPod. As I noted earlier, I found some faulty files on my iPod even though all had been recorded in lossless with error correction. The faults that I heard were obvious and required no "golden ear" to hear, but when I re-ripped the files I couldn't tell the iPod files apart from the original CD.

My computer's soundcard is nothing extra special, just a mid+ level Nvidia. Still, I wonder how the card quality might impact ripping transfers. I KNOW that not using error correction yields some horrid results. Since we all used EC that's not necessarily the fault, EXCEPT that I have had some bad transfers even with EC. I don't know what gives.

There was a guy here on A'gon trying to get bit-perfect rips and actually tested after the fact with some program and was able to achieve it with lossless. I can find a bunch of "bit perfect" threads but not the one I'm thinking of.

Dave, either I am confused or you are, maybe both! :)

But (to me) the sound card has nothing to do with ripping CD's, it is just for sound playback on a PC; you can rip all you want without a sound card.

Furthermore, as I already stated as about as clearly as I can, which may not be saying much, when making copies of your CD's, the only reason they wouldn't be bit-for-bit copies would be because of defects (scratches) in the CD, and if that is the case, your transport will also have the same (error) issue.

When a CD is read on a CD transport it is read one time and sent to the DAC. The benefit of using error correction when making the copy is it reads many times to get the best accuracy, meaning the "copy" being read can have the potential of being read better than the CD copied from.

Stereophile had a very good article months back on digital and talked about it staying the same as long as it stayed in the digital domain, as it should, it is when brought into analog where the issues can ocur.

Your issues of having the re-rip some CD's is rather odd to me as well; I have not had to do this at all. I also ripped many CD's prior to turning on EC and I have no issues with them nor do I hear any diferences with those.

maybe the cd2 is just a very synergistic match with the dac 3, they were made for use with each other.
I don't see why this would matter. Like I say, I haven't a clue of why you guys had the results you did, all I can say is this differs from others, for what it is worth.

Thanks for the clarification on the exaggeration comment; I wasn't clear on the intent. I am aware of the exageration(s) we 'philes can make, but for me there was none. Like in your case, I brought over another set of ears who agreed that he could no way tell a difference in our comparisons. (In some intances, like comparing the CD to the iPod combo, I could switch inputs with a touch of the remote, with the inputs being level matched; neither of us could accurately pick a source.)
Brian, I have no idea if the audio card has any impact in disc replication or not. I just mentioned it in case it does.

Tvad made a good point in another thread, he suggested that the iPod might be reading inconsistantly. He suggests that the files could be fine, but the iPod isn't always reading accurately. If and when I get another bad sounding cut I'll investigate the iPod itself, disconnecting it, rebooting it, throw it against the wall (oops, maybe not) to see if the file isn't read properly later. My iPod Classic 160G is not a flash device, so its mechanical aspects could certainly be suspect. Including the Wadia, it's likely the weakest link in my system.

Here's something else for Chrissain and his crew to try, if they're interested. Record the same error corrected lossless files on another iPod. If possible, use a Nano with a flash drive, then run the same comparison.

Tvad told me in another thread that he's had troubles with iPods as transports. That may be my occasional issue and it may be what's happening with Chissain's listening group. This is a pretty easy extra step that should remove doubt as to whether it's their Wadia or their iPod that's degrading the signal.

To be specific, iPod 30Gb hard drive based unit.
Hey Guys I returned the wadia Ipod dock so I can't do anymore comparisons. Although I do have a few final thoughts about it.

In final all I'll say is with my system. Wav files sounded really good on there. Lossless didn't. So if your running wav files and are ok with storing a few less songs than lossless you shouldn't be disappointed.

I have about 90k worth of equipment and it's pretty transparent and detailed. So it's easy to hear each little piece that you switch in or out. I have 3 sets of ears that all heard the same thing on a few different systems. But as we all know it's all about synergy and maybe I just had a bad matchup. Who knows...

It seems kind of a waste of time that one would have to worry and double check to see if there are errors from ripping or if the music sounds the same as the cd.

Wadia is getting close but a few things would help seal it for me in the future. More Ipod storage space. A better remote that could help you control the Ipod with the same controls as the Ipod. Scrolling and searching for music is clumsy in comparison. It would be kinda nice to be able to hook it up to your tv screen to scroll through things as well. Maybe even put out a higher grade dock or an audiophile upgrade or something. I believe there is one offered by someone on audiogon.

Ok it's gettin late sorry to ramble...


You touched on a question that I had. How do you search and scroll while using
the Wadia remote?
Ecruz asked:

"You touched on a question that I had. How do you search and scroll while using the Wadia remote?"

It's really only a forward and back, play, pause and stop. You need to use the iPod wheel for large jumps. Someone needs to write a program for the iPhone to use it as a remote in this dock.

Kurt, so you're saying that the problem is with the lossless files, NOT the Wadia, right?

hi, I had an interesting conversation with the president of bel canto today and he shed some interesting light on this subject. the belcanto cd2 transport upsamples to true 24/96 out, and is then reclocked in the dac 3 resulting in very low noise and jitter, so that is why he felt that the cd2 was better than the wadia, also the cd 2 uses the pro-2 laser transport, one of the best in the world. some of the worlds most expensive cd players out there use the same transport, but cost alot more dough. maybe this is the reason why we heard what we did, maybe not , who knows ! happy listening , chrissain
Nice follow up Chrissain. That would explain a lot. Thank you very much for continuing to pursue what you heard and reporting to us.

That may also explain why I don't hear a difference, my DAC does the upsampling, not the transport. The Playback Designs MPS-5 uses an really fine Esoteric transport, but the upsampling to DSD is done in the DAC section, so my iPod/Wadia benefits the same from upsampling as my CD transport does.

If you still had the Wadia you could test further by using another CDP as a transport to feed your DAC and compare to the iPod/Wadia. I suspect that the difference would disappear. In your system, now that we know what's going on, it's easy to understand why you'd prefer the upsampling CD transport to the iPod.

Cerrot, thank you - at last, some aspects of this debate are starting to come into focus.

Some time ago when I was trying to be a pioneer with USB into USB compatible DACs, some pro audio guy looked at my like I was asking for 78 RPM records, saying that firewire was the only way to go, and the pro audio guys abandoned USB a long time ago.

Interesting that a year or two later, the new trend in "high end" audio seems to be USB direct into DACs.

I have had some success using USB but also experience drop outs as mentioned by Cerrot and a certain cloudiness to the sound at times.

If firewire is the way to go, then what computers/notebooks and/or software is that fastest way to achieve this?

In the meantime, I think I will sell my brand new, unopened Wadia dock....

Thank you,

i am glad my feeling that this subject was played is wrong, still plenty of info coming, and since i got one from skymall at 30% off list, but is "backordered" , i will incorporate you welcomed experience. i will be using mine witha full blown rakkdac adn will let you know how it performs for me.