Simpl A1 headphone amplifier for iPod introduced | iLounge News


Simpl A1 headphone amplifier for iPod introduced

pic Simpl Acoustics today introduced the Simpl A1 headphone amplifier for iPod. The audio component is designed to deliver the best possible sound from the popular player. “Music lovers with high-end headphones can now enjoy audiophile-level performance from iPod. Until now, those who wished to use high-end headphones with the iPod were required to use expensive, bulky amplifiers that were not designed with the iPod in mind. The Simpl A1 was engineered from the ground up to enhance the sound from the iPod and provide the power needed by high-end, power-hungry headphones. Simpl A1 uses podGrip technology along with smart industrial design to firmly attach itself to the iPod.” The Simpl A1 is available from MacMall and J&R for $149.99.

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I’ve always been interested in buying an amplifier for the iPod, but I’m unsure what the benifit is.

What specifically does an amp do for the iPod to increase sound quality?

If it just makes the output louder, it’s not needed, the iPod is loud enough.

Posted by __redruM on December 2, 2004 at 12:42 PM (CST)



My name is Jonathon Kennemer and I am the designer of the Simpl A1 Headphone Amp.  To answer your question about the benefit of a headphone amp requires a somewhat technical explanation.  Basically, the A1 amplifier’s input impedence is very high, so the iPod’s amplifier doesnt have to work hard at all to send the audio signal to the amp, which means far lower distortion.  Second, the A1 amplifier’s very low output impedence means that headphones will get the full current required to drive them properly.  Our amp also has a playthrough feature so that it plays at normal volume when connected to the amp, with the power off, then engages the amp when you power it on, so you can very easily hear the difference with and without the amp. Furthermore, the iPod rolls off its low frequency response at 50 Hz when connected to 32 ohm headphones.  The A1’s high input impedence moves the low frequency rolloff to below 20 Hz, so you get much fuller bass response.

Posted by simpl on December 2, 2004 at 1:27 PM (CST)


I use a very small, high quality amp with my iPod… plugged into the line-out via a SIK DIN connector. 

Are you advocating using your amp through the headphone port instead of through the line-out port? 

With the amp I’m using, the quality improvement using line-out is quite stunning, and I didn’t see any mention of this on your site or comments.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by alanz on December 2, 2004 at 2:09 PM (CST)


In response to your question about the difference between using the line out port as opposed to the headphone port, there are a couple reasons why we are using the headphone port instead of the line out.  First, is simplicity.  By using the headphone port, we retain the use of the volume control on the iPod.  The iPod volume control doesnt work through the line-out port, so a volume control would have to be part of the amp.  Second, the low frequency roll off through the line-out port is below 20 Hz, which is one of the reasons it sounds better than the headphone port.  Our amplifier specifically addresses this issue and effectively allows the headphone port to operate full range , from below 20 Hz to over 20 kHz.  We have tested our circuit both through the line-out (with an added volume control), and through the headphone port, and can not hear a difference.  Our design philosophy is to keep things as simpl as possible, hence the name Simpl Acoustics.  Thanks for the great question.

Posted by simpl on December 2, 2004 at 3:16 PM (CST)


In terms of its attachment to the ipod, I have some questions.

1. Will it fit the 4G 40-gig iPod?
2. If so, will it still fit if the iPod is encased in a 2mm thick silicone rubber enclosure?

Thanks very much in advance.

Posted by eben on December 2, 2004 at 3:32 PM (CST)


Yes, the Simpl A1 will fit the 4G 40-gig iPod.  The only iPod that the A1 will not attach to is the mini.  Since all non-mini iPods are the same width, our podGrip system works with them all.
For your second question, we didnt design the podGrip system to work with silicon jackets, but I have been able to make it work by carefully cutting 4 small slits in the silicon jacket where the podGrip “wings” attach to the iPod.  This has worked well for me, but it does require modification of the silicon jacket.  Thanks for the great questions.

Posted by simpl on December 2, 2004 at 3:58 PM (CST)


ok this is silly!
as an owner of an ipod i have come to live with its sub-par sound quality. i wll definitely not pay an additional $150.00 for an amp. that fixes a problem that apple shouldve attempted to fix long ago. for $150 youre better off buying an iriver ihp40 instead which already comes with audiophile quality sound!

Posted by juju on December 2, 2004 at 4:41 PM (CST)


Can’t help thinking this method is like puting a Band-Aid on a clearly broken arm… :o/

Posted by oink1 on December 2, 2004 at 4:47 PM (CST)


What are you guys (juju and oink1) talking about?! You’re speaking as if the iPod is deficient sounding, which it isn’t. It sounds great—especially to the average listener who is probably listening to it with consumer-grade phones. An amp will benefit the audiophile who can justify the $150 price.

Look, there’s headphones out there that cost $20 and some that cost $500. If you’re going to pay more than $100 for your headphones, then clearly the amp is a good add-on. For someone who knows the difference between consumer priced phones and audiophile phones, they will definitely notice the difference with the amp. I would appreciate that difference—whereas my girlfriend probably would not (that’s not a generalization about women, BTW, it’s specifically my girlfriend).

The same applies to your home audio gear. You could have a great $1000 home receiver that sounds pretty darn good through headphones. But, the minute you plug in a $500 headphone amp, you’ll truly appreciate what that amp actually brings to the game. It’s not that your receiver is sub-par, but there is gear out there that is specifically made to boost headphone quality.

And, no, the iRiver iHP40 is not a better buy. If you hooked up a headphone amp to it you would notice the exact same difference!

Posted by JimmyJ on December 2, 2004 at 5:32 PM (CST)


I’d like to know what circuit this was based on.  Barring that, what opamp is used?  Other components?  Care to justify that VERY high price tag?

Posted by stark23x on December 2, 2004 at 6:04 PM (CST)


      Care to justify that VERY high price tag?

its an ipod accesorie that no one else has marketed yet?

i agree and think it should be under $100, unless theres some super nice components.  you can build your own amp in a mint tin for $20

Posted by zip22 on December 2, 2004 at 6:20 PM (CST)


Clearly this mini-amplifier is meant for home use. I would love to see a high-end model that the iPod could be inserted into like any other dock. The current implementation seems like it needs to many cables, making operation and recharging a bigger chore than it should be.

As for buying an iRiver iHP40 instead of an iPod, that would be a bonehead idea. This is iPod Lounge, not iRiver Lounge so go tell everyone how happy you are with your WMA player to someone who cares.

Posted by Sol on December 2, 2004 at 6:25 PM (CST)


pretty cool idea. if i had any money i would probably drop some on one of those. but props to you simpl for the great responses to questions asked. and for iriver guy…HAHAHA

Posted by jTizzle on December 2, 2004 at 6:51 PM (CST)


Line out schmine out. Until the ipod has a convenient built-in optical or electrical digital out then it’s not a high-quality plug’n'play input for a good amp.

I know you can buy add-ons that do digital output they are a pain and just mean more clutter and fiddling with wires.

Some other players have built-in digital output. I have tested the exact same tunes (both lossy and lossless compression), played out through the iPod, an iRiver optical digital out, and an Archos electrical digital out. The digital output was as clear as the source file while the iPod’s output evidenced a clear noise floor, slight muddiness, and distinct DAC artifacts.

What really irks me is that the PortalPlayer reference designs all have connectors and logic for SPDIF output. That’s how some other players based on the PortalPlayer designs (such as the Philips) provide a simple, efficient digital out. Apple chose to disable the iPod’s digital output.

Posted by Demosthenes on December 2, 2004 at 7:08 PM (CST)


Also, providing a digital output stream enables you to send surround streams and other nuanced soundstage implementations. Analog is limited to simple stereo.

And of course, with a digital output stream you can send 192KHz, etc, for higher fidelity, to good amps. Of course, you do need a cooperating player. You don’t even need codecs - just a way to tell the player to dump the digital stream to the output.

Posted by Demosthenes on December 2, 2004 at 7:13 PM (CST)


If these amps are all such a great idea, why didn’t Apple provide a decent enough amp inside the iPod? I don’t quite understand why these amps are so hot, especially when about half the people say you won’t notice unless you use really expensive headphones.

Posted by Mani on December 2, 2004 at 7:29 PM (CST)


Can anyone answer this for me? 

I encode all my MP3’s at a VBR at 192 kbs.  Since MP3AAC are both lossy compressions, how does this product make a difference?  Are my MP3’s encoded at a birrate that would be noticeable if I buy this?  I have high end headphones, but I can tell the difference between a cd and MP3 anyway.  My iPod is more about convience then audio quality.  If I want good sound, I will listen to music on my stereo.

Posted by granitopod on December 2, 2004 at 7:52 PM (CST)


Wow…...everyone hear just does’nt get it…...for all the people complaining and saying “WTF is this for?” just drop it and forget it…..cuz obviously you people are too dumb to realize that their are headphones that have huge drivers, and require more power than the wimpy and in my opinion terrible ipod internal headphone amp. So, until you people that still have crappy soundung wal-mart headphones that were on sale for 15 dollars get some real headphones….you have no right talking whatsoever because YOU JUST DONT GET IT. So please, leave the “wow this is dumb and no one would ever use it” blurts to your gosh dang self. Have you ever tried to drive some high quality grados, sennheisers, or anything of the sort with the iPod? Well if you have and you still cant quite get why’d you’d need an amp to make the music sound much better and defined, then you better either go in and get checked for mental health inspection or go invest in a hearing aid company. THANKS

Posted by Blurb. on December 2, 2004 at 8:46 PM (CST)


The only question I have is: what is “podGrip Technology”? Sounds like a clever adaptation of Belkin’s oh-so innovative “AirGrip technology”! Would you please reveal the secret, Mr.Simpl?

Posted by wired on December 2, 2004 at 8:49 PM (CST)


just curious. but what does this provide that a $50 dollar cmoy that fits in an altoid canister doesnt provide???

Posted by icec0ld on December 2, 2004 at 10:00 PM (CST)

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