About two years ago I purchased the Wadia 170 iTransport, and an iPod Classic with a 120GB hard-drive. At the time, the idea of a music server was floating in my brain since I had an unused laptop computer, but was unsure how to actually implement a music server on it. Fortunately, stereophile, and the absolute sound, both reviewed the iTransport at the same time, and both were knocked out by it. One of the two named it Product Of The Year, since it turned an inexpensive iPod into an audiophile music server.
Anyway, like everything else, the original iTransport had some flaws. For example, stereophile measured a relatively high level of jitter, the remote control sucked (it was like a plastic stick of gum), the external power supply was just an inexpensive wall-wart (is that the right phrase?), and the S/PDIF connector was cheap aluminum. Yet, with these flaws, it still played great sounding music.
The new 171 addresses the above weaknesses, and the end result is a better sounding iTransport. The new 171 seems to be a bit clearer, precise, and more detailed. The dynamics seem wider and deeper, and everything is a bit better. Overall, it is hard to quantify with objective terms, but I am very happy with the sound.
There is one thing I was disappointed in though. When I ordered this from Music Direct their ad said the new 171 has an improved internal power supply. This is not true. It still is an external cheapo power supply, but it does look different from the other power supply. However, I did not try it. I upgraded the original power supply over a year ago with a much better power supply from CIAudio, and that works quite well with the new iTransport.
The remote is a much nicer metal remote with more features. However, it is not reliable. It appears the battery compartment allows the battery to not make a solid electrical contact, and that prevents the remote from being useful. Tuesday, I will contact Music Direct for both my $150 trade-in allowance for the 170, and to get a new remote. I have made a kludge fix by putting small pieces of electrical tape on the inside battery cover to push down on the battery. If the kludge is still working Tuesday, I might let it slide.
On a positive note, the iPod seems more secure/solid in the dock, the gold plated S/PDIF connector is better, the blue light on the front is a nice touch, the better clocking and reduced jitter seems to work, and it is still a great music server.
I added 10 more classical CDs to the iPod today, so tonight I will be giving it an extended test (currently in progress). As a side note, these CDs bring my classical playlist to 2,842 ‘songs’, and I still have 33GB left on the drive. Using Apple Lossless to store music almost doubles the size of the iPod hard-drive. Since classical songs range from 3 to 30 minutes I am quite impressed.
As I have said in past posts on this subject, the Wadia/iPod has been the best music device I have ever owned. Because of it I have been on a CD buying spree, upgraded my Benchmark DAC1 to a Bryston BDA-1 DAC, and upgraded the digital IC to an MIT Magnum. All of these changes, along with IC, speaker, and power cord upgrades over the past year, have made my iPod an absolutely fabulous, first-rate music source. I cannot give enough praise to this device, and if anybody is on the fence about buying a Wadia/iPod I have to say do it.