NuForce rolls out Icon iDo DAC for iOS

NuForce rolls out Icon iDo DAC for iOS 1


NuForce has rolled out its new Icon iDo digital audio converter (DAC) and headphone amplifier for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. The iDo is designed to greatly improve the quality of audio being delivered from the device—especially in the case of Apple Lossless files—by bypassing the device’s built-in DAC and extracting the audio data in its original digital form. It requires a 30-pin connection to the device, as well as a power connection for its own power supply, and gives users the choice of connecting the iDo to a home stereo system using RCA analog or coaxial digital output or listening via headphones connected directly to the device. In addition, as it offers its own headphone amplifier, it is capable of properly driving more power-hungry headsets than the device alone. NuForce’s Icon iDo is available now and sells for $249.

  1. @ #1,

    Products such as this are not marketed towards the “average user”. Those folks just enjoy what the device can do as-is.
    Which is why some buy tube amps, and some buy boom boxes.

  2. The DACs in iPods aren’t the problem. They reproduce audio more accurately than any speaker could ever hope to. The limitation of the quality of an iPod’s audio output is the transistor amplifier in it. Take the line out from the dock and run it through a proper amplifier and it’ll sound fine.

  3. iLounge: Glad to see you guys got this story right. Gizmodo’s post on the subject was erroneous and nearly incomprehensible, and Engadget’s was full of snark and displayed plenty of ignorance.

    John: It depends on how you define “average”. Even with relatively inexpensive speakers or headphones, you can hear a difference between an iPod built-in DAC and an external DAC. But it’s not really a worthwhile upgrade unless you have some good gear. Putting that $250 into speakers or headphones would be a better value, I suspect.

    Zimmie: The DACs aren’t perfect in iPods. They can be improved upon. I’ve done some pretty extensive listening comparing the effects of upgrading amplification and upgrading DACs, and I think both can be effective, although a better amp won’t make a huge difference if your headphones (or speakers) are efficient. It’s mostly large headphones that benefit from an amp upgrade. As I mentioned above, I think speaker/headphone upgrades are a better value, at least for most people and up to a certain point.

  4. As with many things, the utility of a device like this depends on your purpose. An “average user” with lossless files and excellent equipment certainly can tell the difference between various DACs. (How this one stacks up, I have no idea.) But whether that makes more difference than another type of upgrade, or even whether the difference is worth the money is an entirely different issue.

    People often criticize “audiophiles” because some of them dabble in esoterica. Fair enough. But that doesn’t mean that all things that most people perceive as esoterica actually are.

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