Top iPad Amps, DACs and Headphones
The Apple iPad offers a potentially vast library of portable music. Our nationwide HeadRoom headphone shows always feature an iPad in our audiophile listening stations employing a digital USB signal from the iPad's bottom pin port into a HeadRoom USB-DAC delivering improved sound quality.
For audiophiles, there's no question that even with 'lossless' or uncompressed music files and efficient headphones, an external USB-based D-to-A Converter [or 'DAC' / Digital-to-Analog Converter] and headphone amp remain essential to upgrade the iPad sound quality.
How to Get a USB Digital Signal from iPad to a HeadRoom DAC
In order to get a digital audio feed from the iPad and significantly improve headphone sound quality, you'll need the Apple iPad 'camera kit' USB adapter (pictured at right) which works with any headphone amp with a DAC. With Apple adapter attached, the iPad exports a true digital audio signal via USB that's ready for D-to-A processing and/or up-sampling via any DAC. This vastly improves iPad headphone sound quality, making the iPad extremely viable as the center of any critical audiophile's high-end mobile music collection.
Top iPad Headphones and Headsets at HeadRoom
Naturally here at HeadRoom, we're most concerned with using the iPad as a headphone audio source. So how does it perform with great headphones? Well, we think folks listening to an iPad with quality in-ear stereo headsets (w/ a built-in voice mic) like Spider Real Voice, Woodees Vintage or Etymotic HF3 will find easy voice chat & calls, clear music reproduction and clean listening levels without a headphone amp needed. Listeners seeking top affordable wireless Bluetooth 'on-ear' headphones should check JayBird which mate nicely with iPad SB2 Bluetooth schemes and also feature a built-in mic. In standard 'wired' headphones sans mic, the portable-friendly Audio Technica M50 and the larger-sized AKG K550 are both superb candidates that sound dandy un-amped. Music mavens wanting sound rivaling the iPad's cutting-edge design will love the beyerdynamic DT1350, equally avant-garde portable headphones with stunning looks and spotless sound quality. For high-end Bluetooth afficionados, Sennheiser wireless headphones like the MM450-X offers good features plus effective noise-canceling for blissful wire-free iPad listening. The Shure line of in-ears all feature detachable cables allowing easy replacement with iPhone / iPad (or smartphone) cords with mics. Finally, audiophiles seeking true 'listening room'-level headphones for their iPad enjoyment will swoon over the pristinely detailed sound of the sealed-back Audio-Technica W1000x, the efficient 32 Ohm open-back Grado PS1000, or the sublime listening privacy and isolation of the Ultrasone Edition 8.