Don't know about the Zune but the iPod has a D to A converter built in. And no, there is no way to bypass it and take a digital feed straight to an external DAC
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And no, there is no way to bypass it and take a digital feed straight to an external DAC
There is one way to do this with an iPod, but it'll cost'ya a bit of coin. Using the MSB Link you can accomplish this for $2k. Utterly ridiculous, IMO when you think that $2k can buy you a laptop, an external drive and a USB/SPDIF converter. You can see further comments on the same subject on this thread
Vinnie of Red Wine Audio modifies the IPOD (calls it the IMOD). His customers are enthusiastic. See www.audiocircle.com and search on IMOD. He has a forum there. Or his site: http://www.redwineaudio.com/iMod.html
He still uses the existing internal DAC, which he claims is a good one, but eliminates the internal op-amp and other low-quality items. The results is a line-out to a headphone amp or stereo system (can't be used without an amp after this is done).
I have not heard it myself.