The diyMod: Ultimate Audio or a Dead iPod

The diyMod skips the headphone amp in your iPod to get pure audio straight from the source... this is one of the toughest mods we've ever attempted!

In the tradtion of Epic Failure on Systm... the diyMod, an audiophile hardware hack for the iPod, doesn't really rank. We -did- have it working. We just couldn't keep this slick Do It Yourself take on Red Wine Audio's $250 iMod running long enough to properly test it. Or get the sacrificial iPod Nano buttoned up again. (It's not dead, just a bit... naked.)

The buzz around this mod for the iPod is pretty huge. Why? Many models of the iPod contain a Wolfson MicroelectronicsWM8975 CODEC. This chip converts the digital audio stored on your iPod's drive into the analog audio your ears can hear. Serious audio geeks believe the WM8975 does a spectacular job.

They also tend to believe the amplifers on the iPod don't do a very spectacular job of making that sweet sound loud enough to hear on your headphones.

The solution? Bypass the onboard amplifiers in your iPod and run the audio out from that Wolfson DAC to a quality headphone amp or your home stereo.

In this episode we make some spudgers so we can crack open a couple of iPods, solder with the tiniest wire we've ever used and get all kinds of excited. (That 30 guage wire might have been the problem... Patrick's working with some sturdier stuff in a new attempt to make his diyMod work for more than 20 minutes!)

Spend some serious time reading The Apple diyMod: My Take on the Famous iMod [56k killer] Featuring 3G, 4G, 5G and nano 1G!. Joneeboi has done a great job getting the info together on how to do this... but, as we learned, the difference between reading about this hack and performing it is pretty major. (The thread is over 113 pages long... lots to learn there!)

Opening your iPod is the easy part: iFixit's Guides are your best friends if you're opening an iPod. Or an iPhone or a Macbook/Macbook Pro... they sell repair parts, and they're the best step by step instructions we know of.

Inside, you'll be soldering wires to SMD: Surface Mount Devicesso tiny you'll be begging for a magnifying glass.

You'll need to modify the iPods headphone outputs or Dock Connector, to get the audio outside the case.

And, of course, you'll need to put the whole thing back together, and fabricate a cable with a pair of 47uF capacitors between the iPod and your headphone amp or preamp.

Patrick's still hammering away on this one, 'cause he wants to hear what it sounds like first hand... he's also

PS: if you spend a lot of time listening to music through headphones/earphones/earbuds, the Head-Fi.org forums are awesome. Go check 'em out!

PPS: Let's be clear: this is not the iMod, that's something Red Wine Audio does for $250... and judging from the look on Patrick's face while he was working on that iPod nano, it's $250 well spent if you don't enjoy starting at tiny parts until your eyeballs are ready to fall out of their sockets!