Onkyo ND-S1 Digital Ipod Dock.

Finally I was able to get one of these beauties. The digital dock accesses your Ipod hardisk and outputs digital data for pairing with an external DAC (hence you’re not limited by the quality of the Ipod DAC).

It does the same thing as the Wadia i170, only it’s a little less buggy, has PC/Mac connection, and comes with a better remote control. It’s also cheaper for roughly $250 (less if you buy from bluetin.com).

Of course the limitation is the 16/44.1 digital format (limited by the Ipod), so in a way, you’re spending extra money on this digital dock while a PC or laptop could’ve done a better job with a 24/96 USB DAC like the Audinst or the Dr. DAC Nano. The nice thing about this, however, is that if you want to have a separate headphone listening set up away from your computer. The Onkyo dock, coupled with a nice DAC with built in amplifier, and you’re good to go.

I’ve been using this dock for the upcoming Matrix Mini-i and Dr. DAC DX2 reviews, and it’s really a joy to use. The convenience of an Ipod, without being stuck to sitting in front of the computer.

Onkyo ND-S1.

 

Dock connector comes with a nice sliding cover.

 

Sliding cover opened.

 

Both the optical and coaxial S/PDIF is active simultaneously, hence you can feed two DACs at once. USB connectivity to the PC allows using PC as a transport, or for Ipod Sync-ing functionality.

 

Source selector: Ipod or PC. Sync/Unsync button to Itunes.

 

The remote allows you to shuffle, change albums, play, skip track, and SCAN a track (by holding the skip button). Sweet.


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39 Comments

  • Reply May 14, 2010

    Earfonia

    FYI, iPod not only support 16b/44.1k but also 16b/48k.

    • Reply May 15, 2010

      Mike

      That's right! The details, right? I keep on missing them. You should be writing the reviews man! You, manaox, dwinarso, thuantran, all you guys have so much knowledge.

  • Reply May 31, 2010

    Vincent

    So Mike, by using the same files (ALAC, for example), this thing basically makes it the same between listening to the iPod and laptop? Considering using the same DAC.

    • Reply May 31, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Vincent,
      This is your question:

      Ipod > Onkyo ND-S1 > External DAC A

      compared to:

      Laptop > External DAC A

      Yes, the two are the same.

      Did I understand you correctly there?

      • Reply May 31, 2010

        Vincent

        Yes, thanks a lot Mike!!

  • Reply June 23, 2010

    John

    Hi Mike, does it require AC power? Does it charge the iPod while in operational?

    Overall compared to Wadia iTransport, which one is better in value & cheaper currently?

    Thanks Mike.

    • Reply June 23, 2010

      Mike

      Hi John,
      Yes it does require a 5V walwart to run. It charges the iPod while in operational.
      Overall the Onkyo is much cheaper than the Wadia ($200 vs $400), though the Wadia has better build quality. The Onkyo doesn't support older Ipods though, I think 5.5Gen is the oldest it'll support. Not sure why they put such a limit.

      The nice about the Onkyo is you don't need to change the little plastic piece to accomodate different Ipods (say a Classic to a Touch), while you need to do so on the Wadia. The Wadia also doesn't work reliably when your Ipod is wearing any sort of case. On the Onkyo I can keep the rubber case on and have no problems.

      Lastly the Onkyo has two digital outs (toslink and coaxial) that can work simultaneously, sending the output to two different DACs, while the Wadia only has one (coaxial).

  • Reply October 24, 2010

    .Sup

    I just wanted to say I have a Nano 3G that works fine with the dock if anyone is considering this combo. The dock is one of those best price/performance devices.

  • Reply January 10, 2011

    Chuong

    Just found that onkyo released an updated model, the ND-S1000. I just got my New ND-S1 after my lil bro fried the last and now I'm like ARRRRRGGGGHHHH. that was until I saw the 400 dollar pricetag. From what I can gather, the nd-s1000 is only an aesthetic update and made so it functions with the iphone 4 as well as the new itouches (i was under the impression that the old nd-s1 can as well). Newer aluminium case doesn't warrant my extra 200 bucks

    • Reply January 10, 2011

      Mike

      Thanks for the info, Chuong!That seems to be a steep price for an aesthetic upgrade.

  • Reply January 10, 2011

    Chuong

    Yeah you’re right there. Sure it looks better but the point of the nd-s1 at the time was just to provide a cheaper alternative to the wadia without compromising on sound quality. Now with the nd-s1000 takes on a different philosophy. Perhaps the psu has changed because i noticed that it requires 1.5a rather than the former 1.0a. Can you get your hands on one Mike? I wanna see a smackdown. I’m willing to bet that an external jitter clock like the monarchy DIP would make a bigger diff

    • Reply January 10, 2011

      Mike

      You know, KingRex makes a 5V power supply that you can use with the ND-S1. I think that should help with improving the quality of the Onkyo Dock.

      Also, if you're cool with making own cables, I've been using a 75ohm Belden Coax cable for the digital data, and I'm liking the result. Blacker background, cleaner separation.

      On the 5V PSU, another alternative is to go DIY. I think a good PSU from AMB Labs like the Sigma11 is an interesting proposal… I haven't had the time to build one though.

      I will definitely do a smackdown if I can get a unit. 🙂

    • Reply January 10, 2011

      Mike

      Bluetin sells the ND-S1000 for double the price of the ND-S1!
      http://bit.ly/fiPKxb

    • Reply January 10, 2011

      Mike

      Here is some hi res images from Iphone.fr forums:
      http://bit.ly/fWAPSi

      • Reply January 10, 2011

        Chuong

        the price is quite ridiculous i have to say. there is no way I'd fork out double seeing as they both apparently use the same 10ppm jitter clocks (10ppm so they say). as far as i know, the only other diff is the 'works with iphone' qualification. My ip4 on 4.2.1 works perfectly on the nd-s1, why the nd-s1000. Another good PSU is the RWA black lightning although i would rather diy a sigma to my specs for the best performance rather than pay such a steep price. Audiocom also offers mods such as capacitor replacements, brass/gold rca chassis mount, bybee purifiers as well as an improved internal clock. I would however change psu first as clean power matters more. Plus an external jitter clock is preferable as they can be used with any source rather than just the dock. only thing i like about nd-s1000 is the new angular look and the metal feet. Thanks for the links

        • Reply January 10, 2011

          Mike

          I think i'd probably start with the sigma11 and see how much of a difference it makes.

  • Reply January 10, 2011

    Chuong

    oh and i can read french so I'm reading impressions on the nd-s1000 which have yet to be seen in english

    • Reply January 10, 2011

      Mike

      What are they saying about the ND-S1000? Any comparisons with the ND-S1?

      • Reply January 13, 2011

        chuong

        sorry about late reply- They haven't compared the nd-s1000 to nd-s1 but rather the same old taking digital data from the ipod- boasting about the 10ppm precision clock which many of us know is ludicrous for a product at the price point (nd-s1 boasted about this as well). The only difference as far as I can tell is that they've put on the iphone certification and that's about it other than a aesthetic revision. Hopefully it doesn't feel as flimsy as the nd-s1 but my hopes aren't high

        • Reply January 13, 2011

          Mike

          Thanks for the impressions.I'd probably put the money for the better PSU unit.

  • Reply January 10, 2011

    Chuong

    The DAC-1000 also looks like an interesting product, perhaps you can compare it to other DAC's if you can get your hands on it. It's been some time since onkyo has made products departing from the HT paradigm.

    • Reply January 10, 2011

      Mike

      Everybody is making DACs these days. =/

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Chuong

    Oh btw i would NOT trust bluetin japan. They screwed me over. Read my thread
    http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/533472/bad-ex

    • Reply January 13, 2011

      Mike

      Thanks for sharing, Chuong. I wasn't aware of the issue.

  • Reply July 14, 2011

    P. J.

    I have to comment as I really like this device. Have it for a while and a couple months ago I also decided to purchase a better power supply for it. I contacted Shaun from custom hifi cables.uk if he could make me one (he was only making cables at the time, and now he is selling PSU too and I’m happy for him, he’s a very good and honest guy). Btw Shaun made me a custom dual PSU for ND-s1 and DacMagic in one enclosure). Mike I wanted to paste my thoughts which I posted on some other site here but fonts were invisible, only when highlighted they were visible, like a spoiler.

    And here are a couple images if anyone is interested: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sups_photos/sets/72157625888330472/

    To summon: the sound is less harsh as the PSU has a conditioner inside. Before it was more aggressive. Not necessarily a bad thing and I had to adjust to the new sound but if you want a more relaxed sound then maybe you want to look into upgrading ND-S1’s PSU.

    kindest regards, Peter

    • Reply July 15, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Peter,
      I was quite sure that a better power supply would make the Onkyo an even better sounding transport. I just haven’t had the time, or the will to build a power supply for it.

      Thanks for sharing your findings though. Appreciate it.

      I just saw the pictures on your flickr. Damn that’s a very clean looking PSU box, likewise the Onkyo and Dacmagic set up — looks very clean.

      Now where is the headphone amplifier?

      • Reply July 15, 2011

        P. J.

        Hehe thanks for the compliment Mike. I don’t have much photos of amps but here is one http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1429/5099807977_029e3792e3_z.jpg

        😀

        • Reply July 15, 2011

          Anonymous

          Nice set up! What’s with the all-silver audio gear? Do I see a HD800
          connector plugged to the Auditor?

          • Reply July 15, 2011

            P. J.

            I just don’t like dark stuff, its depressing 😀
            The only piece of black gear I have is Audio GD Ref5
            Yes its HD800
            http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4129/5014409896_b9d6574201_z.jpg

            • Reply July 15, 2011

              Anonymous

              I actually wish they make the HD800 in an all-black look. I bet it’ll be
              kickass.

              Come to think of it, I probably should try painting my Hd800 all-black.

      • Reply February 24, 2012

        Jason

        uMMM what!?!

         How could a PSU influence the sound of the digital transport? The only job this , or Wadia or Pure i-20 does is take the 1’s and 0’s of the music and shoot it digitally to the DAC. There is no sound processing involved.Now if the PSU was faulty and causing the stream to cut in and out, that still doesn’t affect the sound other than it being like a record skipping. But to say a PSU or for some suggesting a cable on a digital stream influences the sound, rubbish.

  • Reply March 25, 2012

    sisprod

    Hi mike

    Can these itransport used with imod? Because i heard the imod need lod with caps to run normaly without noise

    Thanks

    • Reply March 27, 2012

      Mike

      Honestly I can’t remember if I’ve used them with an Imod. The lack of caps shouldn’t matter in theory since you’re tapping digital data (the caps are for analog signals). What I’m thinking is if the ND-S1 supports 5.5th or 5th gen Ipods. If it does, then your Imod should run just fine.

  • Reply May 5, 2012

    P. J.

    I just wanted to share my finding that the new iPad also works perfectly using Cable Jive’s extender cord with ND-S1.

    • Reply May 7, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks for sharing, P.J.

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