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iPad Review for Music Lovers

[caption id="attachment_1513" align="alignleft" width="168" caption="Jorge, Post Author and Sales Manager, with his always-faithful partner in crime, PJ."] Jorge, Post Author and Sales Manager, with his always-faithful partner in crime, PJ.[/caption] I finally wrestled our new Apple iPad away from the rest of the HeadRoom staff for a blog post review. First thing to note is that people appear very drawn to this thing and even "non-techies" seem enamored by the iPad's slick looks and hipster allure. Everywhere I took it, passersby commented on the cutting-edge touchpad and slim ergonomics, so Apple obviously continues to do things right with their materials design. The 'dual' virtual hidden keyboard takes some getting used to, but the iPad delivers workable ultra-lightweight wireless mobility and computing on-the-fly once all the proper apps are loaded into it. Although there's no phone, Skype telecommunications via USB-enabled or standard mic headsets seems tailor-made for the iPad and streaming from Netflix or YouTube is a breeze.
[caption id="attachment_1519" align="alignright" width="158" caption="The Total BitHead Portable Headphone Amp & USB DAC"] The Total BitHead Portable Headphone Amp & USB DAC[/caption] Of course for HeadRoom, we're most concerned with using the iPad as an audio source. So how does it perform with headphones? The exciting news is that early reports from the field confirm the Apple iPad camera kit (sold separately; currently scarce availability according to Apple) works wonderfully with our  HeadRoom DACs and amp/DACs, like our Total BitHead or even our top-of-the-line HeadRoom Portable Desktop Amp/DAC. With the camera kit attached, the iPad can export a true digital audio signal through the kit's built-in USB port that's ready for D-A processing and even up-sampling via any HeadRoom DAC. We're overjoyed that digital connectivity exists for headphone users wanting to vastly improve the iPad's sound quality and make it the center of an audiophilic mobile music collection. We currently have an adapter on back-order with Apple, so please stay tuned for a hands-on iPad camera kit/HeadRoom DAC assessment soon. [caption id="attachment_1527" align="alignleft" width="204" caption="A beauty to behold, touch, and especially hear... the Ultrasone Edition 8's are more than an adequate iPad partner!"] A beauty to behold, touch, and especially hear... the Ultrasone Edition 8's are more than an adequate iPad partner![/caption] Meanwhile, we've loaded up our HeadRoom Apple iPad full of uncompressed CD files, the Head-Fi music sampler and Chesky audiophile recordings at HD tracks.com and have been listening straight from the iPad's headphone jack with all sorts of different headphones. The audio results even without outboard D-A processing or amplification are competent with plenty of clean musical detail and good volume potential direct from the iPad. However, using high-end headphones like the $1,500 Ultrasone Edition 8 (& Edition 8 in Palladium) -- the world's best portable headphones -- or the listening room-oriented 300-Ohm Sennheiser HD800 reveals grainy timbres, flat imaging ability and limited dynamics similar to what we typically expect from most laptop/PC soundcards. Of course, if your traveling cans of choice are more forgiving and less precise than the Edition 8 or HD800, the sound quality could be just fine to meet your portable listening needs. [caption id="attachment_1528" align="alignright" width="249" caption="With Urbanears, you can pick a color, any color. No really... ANY color!"] With Urbanears, you can pick a color, any color.  No really... ANY color![/caption] Folks enjoying their iPad with quality stereo headset-mic arrays like Monster Beats headphones or Klipsch earphones or with fashion-forward cans like Urbanears are likely to have the time of their lives. Nevertheless, there's no question that even with excellent music files, a dedicated D-A processor/headphone amp remains essential for upgrading the iPad's sound quality when using top-level reference headphones.
[caption id="attachment_1529" align="alignleft" width="168" caption="A little taste of CanJam 09"] A little taste of CanJam 09[/caption] HeadRoom will be bringing our Apple iPad to the annual worldwide CanJam event next month in Chicago June 5-6. We plan on using the iPad as a headphone source in our HeadRoom showcase suite in tandem with all our HR gear, so feel free to come to this wonderful event and give it a listen with your favorite cans... hmmm, wonder when the iPad v.2 will come out?!!

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