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CD 6004 with iPod connected via USB - Marantz DAC or internal iPod DAC used?

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ksoundwerx's picture
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Hi All.

The world of digital HiFi and connectivity moves on at fast pace, and I sometimes wonder whether this is of benefit to the masses at the expense of the listener in pursuit of hi fidelity audio. I am very much a CD/Vinyl man, but my less-discerning wife does like to download music and use her iPod.

In this vein, I have been pondering. Firstly the question of which this thread is entitled. I seem to find conflicting information when I try to find out whether the Marantz CD6004 will take a digital stream out if the iDevice, merely using the iPod as a hard drive for the digital content, and allowing the much higher quality DAC in the 6004 to perform the processing. Or does is simply take the analogue signal (post processing) from the iPods internal DAC? Anyone know for certain what the case here is, or can find out?

Superfi suggest when talking about the iPod connectivity: 'Thanks to the upgraded power supply and only choosing customised audio components, there is no loss of sound quality as often happens in inferior products due to the power needed to charge the iPod. With a new amplifier and digital to analogue converter (DAC), the new CD6004 ensures a pure audio signal path to get the most from your music'. That little speil suggests the iPod data is taken onboard digitally, bypassing the iDevices own DAC

Elsewhere I have read that a digital stream cannot be taken from any iDevice via a USB lead.

On another ponder along the same train of thought, assuming the Marantz receives the analogue signal post on-board iDevice DAC, would a better method of playing the content (in terms of SQ) be to do away with the hardwire and stream the music over airplay to my AVR... As I assume the wireless connection sends the song in digital packages and utilises the DAC on the AVR to perform the conversion. Of course I am assuming perfect wireless conditions here: strong WiFi signal and no loss of information transmission.

I guess the long and short of my ponderings are whether one or both methods I describe bypass the iDevices on board DAC, which is something I would like to do, as I cannot see the iDevices onboard DAC being as good as either the ones in my AVR or CD6004.

Any thoughts or contributions welcome!

Keith

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aniskg's picture
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Hi there,   Just saw your

Hi there,  

Just saw your thread.  I have got a cd6004, the reason I bought it was because of the internal Dac and having the ipod connectivity was the icing on the cake. My hifi sound quality has improved a lot, also with high quality interconnenters.  Coming back to your question. Yes it does bypass the dac in the ipod and you will hear the difference, although there is little bit of an issue with bass being little too boomy and at high volumes there's seem a touch of distortion .

There's also a bit of compatability issue, although all ipods will work with cd6004, on some of them you won't be able to use the ipod control and you would have to use the remote to navigate your playlist, which can be a little tricky and frustrating if you have a lot of songs in your ipod. 

I have a 5th generation 30gb video ipod and  was unable to use the ipod controls but was surprised with the difference it made in sound with Marantz internal DAC so I treated myself with the arcam drdock . All connected and setup but I have to wait till my 15 months old daugter gets up from her sleep.

All the best

ksoundwerx's picture
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Re

Thank you for the reply. Glad to hear you have found it to make a difference.

Do you have any hard proof (such as written clarification) that the Marantz take the raw digital data from the iPod? I can't find anything solid, just suggestions, and then counter suggestions that USB connections cannot take the data from the iPod, and that it needs to be docked on a 32pin base for this to be possible.

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ksoundwerx's picture
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RE: RE:

Re-reading your post it seems you have bought the Arcam DR Dock as a transport for the iPod and then using the 6004 as the DAC for the digital data. However this contradicts that the 6004 in isolation via USB bypasses the iPods onboard DAC, else the sound quality would be same if the 6004 was receiving raw digital data (whether via the DR Dock or straight out of the iPod in digital)?

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MeanandGreen's picture
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RE: RE:

If you listen to a lossless CD rip on the iPod and compaire it to the CD itself would that not highlight if it is the Marantz DAC or the iPods DAC you are hearing when listening to the iPod?

I personally think if the iPod is inferior it should be obvious when you listen to it, if it is the analogue signal your CD player receives. I wouldn't worry too much if it doesn't bother your wife who is the main iPod user afterall.

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aniskg's picture
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RE: RE:

ksoundwerx wrote:

Re-reading your post it seems you have bought the Arcam DR Dock as a transport for the iPod and then using the 6004 as the DAC for the digital data. However this contradicts that the 6004 in isolation via USB bypasses the iPods onboard DAC, else the sound quality would be same if the 6004 was receiving raw digital data (whether via the DR Dock or straight out of the iPod in digital)?

No wasnt going to use the cd6004 at all, arcam drdock also has a built in dac.  But it seems here again I am faced with compatibility issues, dock seems to do everything but there's no audio output, 

So another trip to the superfi shop tomorrow afternoon.

aniskg's picture
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RE: RE:

MeanandGreen wrote:

If you listen to a lossless CD rip on the iPod and compaire it to the CD itself would that not highlight if it is the Marantz DAC or the iPods DAC you are hearing when listening to the iPod?

I personally think if the iPod is inferior it should be obvious when you listen to it, if it is the analogue signal your CD player receives. I wouldn't worry too much if it doesn't bother your wife who is the main iPod user afterall.

Couldn't agree more with you on this 

aniskg's picture
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RE: Re

ksoundwerx wrote:

Thank you for the reply. Glad to hear you have found it to make a difference.

Do you have any hard proof (such as written clarification) that the Marantz take the raw digital data from the iPod? I can't find anything solid, just suggestions, and then counter suggestions that USB connections cannot take the data from the iPod, and that it needs to be docked on a 32pin base for this to be possible.

There's is no written clarification, you will know when you hear it. It's obvious, there is a huge difference in sound when the iPod is connected to the cd player through USB, I am 100% sure USB feeds digital signal to the cd6004. 

If you want solid proof contact Marantz 

Al ears's picture
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RE: Re

I think you will find the datstream coming from the iPod via USB will have been decoded by the DAC in the iPod.

However I'm no expert on this matter.

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Marantz DAC or internal iPod DAC used?

Quote from the Marantz.co.uk website:

"Altogether the CD6004 is a match made in heaven for the music lover who wants nothing but the best performance at an attractive price. And one more thing it’s also perfect for lovers of portable music, thanks to its iPod-digital connectivity."

 

 

ksoundwerx's picture
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RE: Re RE: Re RE: Re

Thanks for all the musings and input so far chaps.

MeanandGreen wrote:

If you listen to a lossless CD rip on the iPod and compaire it to the CD itself would that not highlight if it is the Marantz DAC or the iPods DAC you are hearing when listening to the iPod?

I personally think if the iPod is inferior it should be obvious when you listen to it, if it is the analogue signal your CD player receives. I wouldn't worry too much if it doesn't bother your wife who is the main iPod user afterall

 

Yes that would be one practical way to go about discerning if there is an audible difference. I'd just like to know whether there is any information out there that confirms it either way by technical confirmation - I thought someone might know.

 

I'm not too bothered either way, as you're right I listen to very little music held on portable devices/iTunes etc, although I would like to steer my wife toward the 'best practice' way to link her device up.

 

 

Exoticsounds wrote:

Quote from the Marantz.co.uk website:

"Altogether the CD6004 is a match made in heaven for the music lover who wants nothing but the best performance at an attractive price. And one more thing it’s also perfect for lovers of portable music, thanks to its iPod-digital connectivity."

 

Call me scepticle, but manufacturers spiel can be intentionally misleading... 'iPod digital connectivity' doesn't really confirm anything... Plugging an iPod in via USB is broadly a 'digital connection' regardless of whether the signal taken is pre or post DAC processing. They may well get away with saying that because it allows you to control the iPod when connected this way. If the Marantz did perform the DAC conversion onboard it would be better to shout it out, perhaps by saying something like 'takes the raw data from your ipod and uses the 6004s superior DAC to coverts the music' blah blah blah.  

 

Another reason for my scepticism is that iPod digital transports are all at least £150, and it's rumoured that manufactures have to pay Apple if they wish to tap into the raw digital data. The fact the 6004 costs very little more than the 6003 which has no iPod connectivity seems odd if this is true.

 

Alears wrote:

I think you will find the datstream coming from the iPod via USB will have been decoded by the DAC in the iPod.

However I'm no expert on this matter.

 

Finally, ^^^This is something else I am pretty sure off, and which gives me reason to be sceptical.

 

I have been reading reams and reams of information and techincal threads on this matter all this last week (when I get a question in my head I tend to pursue it to the death in the quest for factual information) and cannot find a single device that takes the raw digital stream from the iPod via USB connection.

 

There are in fact only a handful of devices that can take the digital stream from the iPod for conversion on a outboard DAC and all cost more than £150, and all require the iDevice to be docked - the Cambridge Audio id100, Wadia 170i, Onkyo NDS1 and perhaps a few others.

 

Nothing I have seen exists that can supply a device with the raw digital stream via the standard iPod cable to USB.

 

So there is my reasons for questioning all of this! Please do not assume I am disregarding some of the valuable input on this thread, but in pursuit of the factual 'truth' about ways to extract the raw digital stream off the iDevice, I'm still not convinced the 6004 allows this!

 

Whilst I am not much of an iPod user, I am always keen to ensure the best setup is achieved in my home HiFi for ALL users and formats of music. At the moment I remain unconvinced about the digital connectivity of the iPod> CD6004 and think I may be better off purchasing a specific iDevice transport (Wadia etc) with TOSlink output for connection to my AVR or addition external DAC (DACMagic etc) for connection to my PM7004 HiFi amplfier.

 

Interested in anything others can contibute to this discussion? 

 

Thanks for all your musings!

 

Keith

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RE: Re RE: Re RE: Re

Please don't take offence I don't mean to sound rude, however it seems you are thinking of making decisions about potential external DACs because you've read that they are 'superior'. How does the iPod actually sound through your CD player USB input? Can you even hear a difference between that and the CD player itself?

I have an Arcam irDock connected to my system, the Arcam takes the analogue signal from the iPod so the iPod is using its Internal DAC. Guess what, it sounds great! Easily comparable to my Sony CDP-XB930 CD player and Pioneer PDR-509 CD Recorder and they were very well regarded machines in their day. I can't hear any difference between my Sony and Pioneer CD machines, and to be really honest if I was to do a blind comparison of my Sony and Pioneer CD machines and the Arcam dock I wouldn't be able tell which was which. That's comparing 2 high quality CD player/recorders DACs with an iPod. 

My Sony has switchable filters for customising the sound, they make no difference at all. I'd have to read the instruction manual to see what each setting is meant to sound like, because it cannot be heard.

If the iPod really sounds dire, then maybe an external DAC is the answer, but I honestly don't think it's worth perusing personally. I also doubt the iPod sounds dire and is probably very good.

I do think you should judge it by its sound, not the technicalities which the audio press and industry try to brainwash us with. 

I hope I've made sence? Of course it's up to you what you want, but I thought I'd give my personal opinion on the subject. Smile

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RE:

OK, lets forget sound quality for one moment.

 

I am more interested in the techincal aspect of how the iPod connection works - does it use Marantz DAC or internal iPod DAC.

 

Simple discussion really.

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RE:

Fair enough, if sound isn't the concern here then the technicalities make no difference. 

I'll leave it there, the best thing to do is contact Marantz for technical support to answer your question Smile

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ksoundwerx's picture
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RE:

MeanandGreen wrote:

Fair enough, if sound isn't the concern here then the technicalities make no difference. 

I'll leave it there, the best thing to do is contact Marantz for technical support to answer your question Smile

 

Look, let's start over, I appreciate your comments and input although we're coming at this from different angles!

 

Sound is of course a concern, but I'd like to avoid a discussion about that for the moment, because on this ocassion that is not the primary point of my interest, or reason for this thread: as the title suggests its whether the connection via USB lead is true digital or post internal iDevice DAC processing.

 

I like to know how things work on a technical level (I'm an electrical/electronic engineer by trade) and so far I'm yet to find out what I'm after! I will call Marantz tomorrow but I'm unsure they'll be able to answer either unless I can speaker to a very technical member of staff with intimate product knowledge. I will report back.

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RE:

ksoundwerx wrote:

 I will report back.

Hi ksoundwerx, did you ever get feedback? I've also been searching for a definative answer regarding this.

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