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Headphone Update – Getting Better Sound Out of the iPod

Long-time readers of this blog are well aware of my addiction to audio equipment (and in fact, my post talking about Bose vs. Shure vs. Sony still gets a ton of traffic).

For some reason it’s always the product marketing guys that get me into new audio equipment. This time Bruce was showing me his iPod set up. For less than $30 you can get a converter that plugs into your iPod port that will give you something closer to a true Line Out. Hardcore audio people that use big expensive headphones are often disappointed at their portable player’s ability to really drive the headphones. By using a line out there are two benefits – being able to use a better quality amplifier than the one in the iPod (a “cleaner” sound, usually more bass that is tight, clearer highs and you can go louder overall), and some believe that bypassing the internal amplifier reduces some noise and gives you better battery life. I cannot attest to those, but I can say that while testing Bruce’s rig the sound is better.

So, for less than $50 you get the line out dock (or LOD as they call it on the audiophile boards), and a portable amp that  is only slightly larger than the iPod Nano that had the round control on the front. It should be noted that headphone.com makes a killer portable amp which can be a huge upgrade if you are running a PC laptop, but it is a lot larger than the FiiO and takes 4 batteries. I went for the cheaper, more portable amp.

I’ll post some pictures when the full geek gear shows up.

I also picked up some bluetooth headphones and a BT adapter so I can use it on any audio device, but the weather has been great so I probably won’t get around to those until the bad weather comes back and I’m in the gym.