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My take on the iMod

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A couple of months ago I finally got a DIY iMod. It's a 4th gen unit, modded with blackgates from the headphone out, and with a cap-less modded signal path from the lineout, that goes into a Sonicap dock (same as Vcap dock, but smaller & cheaper).

I have been seeing lots of headfiers raving about the iMod for more than an year, and until two months ago I was a "portable only" guy, so I decided to invest my money into one and see myself if the enthusiasm was justified.

My past experience with mp3 players has been with a Rio Karma (overrated sq), two Kenwood HD daps (very good sound quality but really expensive) and a JVC XA-HD500 (Kenwood-like sound, reasonable price but low capacity - 6gb).

I've used the iMod with both blackgates and Sonicap outs. I used two amps in my test, an iQube and a Minibox E+ (my current portable amp).

The Sonicap iMod + iQube makes for an hyperdetailed sound, but I think it's mainly due to the iQube's brightness, which brings out lots of high frequency details (something very similar to what ER4S, with their boosted upper midrange and treble, do). I sold the iQube because it was very sibilant and I didn't like the overall feel (I described it as "lightsaber sounding"), and I got the Minibox E+.

My DIY iMod + Sonicap dock + Minibox E+ cost me something like 650$ (including a 32gb flash memory card), and would run way more buying the iMod from ALO (Vcap dock instead of Sonicap one).

I think the SQ improvement is only incremental over the JVC. Using the Blackgates headphone out, Minibox and Triple.fi, the sound is slightly more detailed than using the same IEMs from the JVC mp3 player, and imaging benefits from the added layer of basement detail. Bass is more powerful, giving an overall sense of "effortlessness", like it has been described by some.

Switching from the Sonicap dock to the Blackgates out, bass seems tighter (less midbass power), and that's all. Some people describe the sound as more spacious, but that's so hard to perceive that seems more a self convincing effect to me.

The improvement from a good DAP to the iMod is not night and day like many say on headfi. Not nearly so. I must admit that I wasn't expecting a great improvement either, and I bought the iMod because I hoped to be surprised. The overall sound quality is not nearly comparable to what can be achieved with a good can (I tried an HD650 from my computer soundcard and a crappy 20

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