There are many DACs that could work with the Third Generation iPad via the USB port and a powered hub. The HRT Music Streemer is one that works. But what is the best choice for an basic level audiophile system for a rational and budget minded fan?
Although the iPad has a really great audio path via analog, it would be nice if a pure digital path could be cobbled up in part to reduce the relative fragility of the 30 pin connector. I have the iPad Third Generation – the first with retina display, and the last with the 30 pin docking connector.
After doing much research on compatible DACs it appears that if you combine any USB DAC with a powered hub it is very likely you will succeed. I tried this with a Belkin 7 port desktop hub and a HRT Music Streemer I had handy (along with the Apple 30 pin to USB adapter called the Camera Connection Kit – CCK) and it worked immediately!
Where does DIY come in? Well you could fork out the frogpelts and purchase a combo dock and DAC from reputable companies like Arcam, or you can have the freedom to match just about any USB DAC to your iPad, 3rd generation. That is what I plan to do, although the mount then becomes a question because the CCk is an one inch square adapter that sits below the iPad in the 30 pin slot. So you need an iPad stand that can accommodate this expressly, or an iPad stand that has approximately 1″ of space beteween the unit.
The issues that we need to resolve are:
- How to mount the iPad (horizontal versus vertical)
- How to accomodate the Apple Camera Kit Adapter in the mounting system
- Which USB DAC to purchase given the level of the system?
My system consists of a home built Pass B1 FET preamplifier, a 20 Watt Pure digital amplifier and open frame powersupply, and M&K LCR-55s on 30″ high stands.