Modding: Audiophile meets iPod (diyMod)

Modding: Audiophile meets iPod (diyMod)


Amongst the modding audiophile community there is a small band of people who are after the best possible sound from their portable audio players. The concept is simple, bypass all the poor quality SMD components and feed the DAC (Digital to Analog Convertor) output directly in to an external high quality headphone amp.

While the concept is simple, execution is another matter – The player needs to be opened up and the DAC output needs to be wired to the nearest conveniant output connector, most people opting to use redundent pins on the docking ports. Due to the presence of DC voltage on the output of the DAC this neccesitates the need for capacitors in-line. To maintain the quality that you are trying to achieve this means using bulky audio grade capacitors which would never fit inside the player, hencing leading to special docking connector, etc, etc, etc.

I stumbled on one such thread where a gentleman by the name of Eric Guerizec from France had combined using my iFlash adaptor with his pursuit of audio fidelity. The quality of his workmanship was so good I invited him to write an article about it.

Here is his story……


After spending many days looking for my mp3 player, I decided to buy the 30Gb 5.5g iPod but I did not want to use their propriety ITunes. I bought the iPod because I discovered Rockbox  (,  the free software replacement for iPod, Iriver and other mp3 players. The first thing I did when I received my iPod was to install Rockbox. Using Rockbox is fun.

I can manually transfer songs without any additional software. Some of the Rockbox features are great: FLAC Support, equalizer, cross fader, user-definable interface, and gapless playback. But there are so many things we can do with the iPod 🙂

I wanted very much to replace the hard disk with a memory card. The fall in prices of Compact Flash cards was the opportunity to have a nice mp3 flash player with 32 Gb of memory. I used Tarkan’s adapter to perform this first hack : the famous iFlash adapter. I was not disappointed! The build quality is excellent and this adapter fits perfectly into the iPod. I bought a 32Gb CF card on eBay and it works great with the iFlash adapter.

32Gb CF iFlash

Installing the iFlash adapter and the CF card into the iPod is very easy. Be careful not to damage the iPod when opening it. The first time, I used a faulty iPod to have a try and I broke the LCD screen, oops! So the second time, I took one’s time to open my iPod successfully. This mod truly rocks : the user interface is smoother and there is no waiting normally caused by the hard drive.

I spent some serious time reading the Apple diyMod thread on the Head-Fi forum. Take a look at : The author Joneeboi has done a very good and interesting job. The aim of the diyMod is to run the audio out from the Wolfson DAC and bypass the “poor” onboard components.

Usually, most of the head-fi’ers use a special cable with a pair of 47uF Black Gate capacitors. The Black Gates have probably the best size to performance ratio. The disadvantage of this method is that there is not a good way of playing the iPod through the line-out without building a custom dock connector.

The iFlash adapter is the solution to performing the audiophile hardware hack with internal caps. When you replace the hard drive with the iFlash adapter, you have enough space to fit two capacitors. Only small capacitors can be used like Black Gate NX Hi-Q 6.3V 22uF or 47uF. The advantage is that you have a really portable diyMod iPod that can be used with a regular line out dock. The disadvantage is that obviously you couldn’t use better caps than the ones that fit internally.

If you want to do this mod, I recommend you to read carefully the first page of Joneeboi’s thread on You will find all the information you need and links to excellent tutorials.

The Surgery

Performing this hack is not very difficult but I can’t tell you it’s easy. Of course, it depends on your soldering experience. You need a temperature controlled soldering iron with fine conical tip.

As I am not in the habit of soldering and desoldering tiny components (SMD), I used a broken iPod to have a try. It’s necessary to use a magnifying glass because the PCB pads are very small and delicate and it’s useful to make sure that there is no shorting to any neighbouring components.iPod Motherboard

After opening the 5g iPod, you need to separate the logic board from the front panel. I recommend you to keep the logic board and the metal framework together and it’s not necessary to remove the clickwheel. The first step is to desolder the coupling  capacitors near the DAC, the inductors near the dock, and the capacitors that comes right after the dock inductor.

iPod Motherboard WheelNext, you have to route the wires from the pads near the DAC to the pads near the dock. The goal is to route the audio signal from the DAC to the internal capacitors then to the dock connector. You need to use a very thin cable. I used 30 AWG single strand wire. Of course, be careful when soldering anything. You have to find the best path for your wires that do not prevent the closing of the front panel. Make sure that the wires are not too close to the clickwheel.

I used a little hole on the board to route the wires from the DAC. I was obliged to drill the back of the front panel just enough for the thickness of the wires.

iPod Motherboard WheeliPod Case

iPod Cable RouteThere is a space near the clickwheel ribbon where the wires could be routed to the dock pads. I used adhesive to secure the wires down the specified path.

There is more wiring than the classic diyMod (with external caps) because the caps must be connected on the other side of the board. The two caps are inserted from side to side the ZIF conector, it was the only location that I could have enough space. The screenshots show you this arrangement.

iPod CapacitorsiPod diyMod Installed

Finally, close the iPod and enjoy the pure audio straight from the source!


Let’s be clear, this mod is not for everyone. But if you spend a lot of time listening to music through your headphone amp, the diyMod may be of interest to you.iPod diyMod Installed

Is it worth trying? Go on forum to read the discussion in the Apple diyMod thread and make your own opinion. If you use Tarkan’s adapter, I proved that internal caps (only Black Gate NX Hi-Q 6.3V 22uF or 47uF) was a possible option. This mod will also allow you to use your headphones through the headphone jack.

I love listening to my diyMod iFlash iPod. I use it with the fantastic Headamp Pico amp, this rig is ultra portable and it sounds very nice!

All images copyright Eric Guerizec – used with permission.


I would like to thank Eric for putting the article together and producing a very high quality mod.

35 thoughts on “Modding: Audiophile meets iPod (diyMod)

  1. Support Post author

    @Tim – Poly Film caps would be technically better, but only a few companies make them in the 22uf or 33uf size and they are very expensive. Also at that capacity the physical size will be huge, so no way to fit them in the iPod.

  2. Tim

    Hey Tarkan or anyone else with cap knowledge, what value would you recommend to do this mod with film capacitors as opposed to electrolytic capacitors. I tried searching for 22uF and 47uF film caps and it seems they don’t exist. From what I’m reading though it seems to be the superior choice for this particular mod.

  3. Sean

    I have sort of an odd question that I was curious if some of you might be able to help me with.

    My idea behind doing this mod to my ipod was to be able to use the line out(with the full access to the wolfson dac) going into the aux port on my cd deck in my car which is hooked up to my car speakers and two 12′ subwoofers.

    Is playing lossless files through the line out into my car deck(aux 3.55) like that going to increase the sound quality or is this mod mainly meant for going line out to 3.5mm jack that goes into a headphone amp combo for headphone listening?

  4. jamesmiller5454

    Hi guys really looking forward to trying this mod when it arrives. I’ve got a grasp on it, but was wondering if there are any more detailed guides with pictures to show exactly what to de-solder/where to solder, what wires go where etc? Sorry as I’m a bit of a lamen but can’t wait to give it a go and hear the difference!

  5. Support

    @Mark – I don’t see why you cannot using normal SMT techniques remove a good connector from another board –

    Off the top of my head (so don’t quote me on it) as I remember the connector is made by Hirose part no. FH26W-13S-0.3SHW, you might be able to buy the connector or at least blag a sample from a component distributor.

  6. mark

    I have a 7g classic (297LL) logic board that is missing the headphone connecter. Unfortunately, I do not think that the connector can be purchased. The local electronics repair person does not think it is possible to remove un-solder the part from a damaged board because it appears to be glued. Is the 7g unit now garbage?

  7. Support

    @Nicole – The iPod motherboards will work with thin or thick battery makes no difference – you have either got a bad battery, or there some issue with the iPod motherboard.

  8. nicole

    Has anyone had luck using an 80gb 5.5 gen logic board, with a 30gb (thin) battery? I purchased an 80gb enhanced model hoping to convert it to a “thin” model with the iflash quad and put a thin back and battery into it (the thin battery lasts plenty long for me, and i really prefer the feel of the thin backed ipods) However i ran into some issues…

    First i tried to just swap the fat battery for the thin one, (the ipod i bought had a bad battery, but is otherwise fully functional if powered by the computer or wall) however, upon powerup with the new battery it gave me the white, connect to itunes to restore message – which, I did. however itunes could neither see, nor restore the ipod, it couldn’t do it in disk mode either. I thought that maybe the 80gb hard drive was using too much power… so i stuck a 5th gen 30gb hard drive that i pulled from a totally functional ipod and tried that. Still the same message and same problem, couldn’t restore, wasn’t seen by computer or itunes, (well, it was visible for moments as a removable disk, but i couldn’t restore or interact with it when it was in this state)

    So, the question is, has anyone done this? and done it successfully? It would be awesome to be able to stick a few memory cards in the quad adapter, stick a small battery and thin back on it, then load it up with thousands of songs, but still have the 64gb of flash that the 80gb 5.5 gen has!

  9. Support

    @Stefan – I do not think this will help you. This only upgrades / replacing the DC blocking capacitors for line out (out of the docking connector).

  10. Macgcler

    Another thing, I´m from Mexico, i would like to know about where to buy black gate capacitors or a link, i can buy Elna Silmic capacitors but… I dn´t know if the quality will be the same.

  11. macgcler

    There is a thing i didn´t understand the HQ audio only comes from the dock or from the 3.5mm jack too?

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