I have created MEGAPOD!
I'd put off re-encoding my CDs because I have a lot of them, several hundred... But I couldn't put it off any longer, because quite frankly, MP3s sound shit. So I threw a big drive into the music server and spent about 2 months of loading CDs (including frying one CD drive in the process) and it was all on there. There was only one problem, my iPod was seriously lacking in space to accommodate my now massive (340GB) music library.
Indeed this set me out on a quest to find a lossless player that could accommodate my library's prodigious size. Pono made a big noise about being lossless and it was certainly pricey enough, but with only 64GB of storage, it suffered the same problem as Apple's products, a chronic lack of space to deal with a reasonable quantity of lossless material.
I'd given in at that point, sold my old iPod and resigned myself to the fact that such a device would never exist. Then Mr Clegg pointed me to something he found on the internets; Tarkan's BORED. This fella has made a number of devices that replace the HDD in older iPods with some solid state alternatives.
Fastest of which is one that takes an mSATA SSD (laptop solid state drive), which like the internal HDD, can just about max out the USB 2.0 bus. However he also has one that takes 2x SDXC cards (camera storage) that's a little slower but massively increases battery life. Not by a small amount either; 14hrs over the standard HDD playing lossless, and nearly 18hrs more than an mSATA, rolling in at a staggering 33hrs of runtime.
The other consideration is cost. You can pick up a good 500GB mSATA drive for around £100 2nd hand. Getting 2x 256GB SDXC new is £160. Though I was incredibly lucky to score a brand new one on eBay for £50, the second I had to get from My Memory and that was £80. Both mSATA and 2x SDXC options will allow up to 1TB of storage with the right iPod (see his site for compatibility).
As the performance loss will only be noticeable when syncing, I bought the dual SDXC adapter. For an iPod, the smallest and most compatible was a 30GB Gen 5, so I snagged one of those on eBay for £40 that had a recent battery swap, something that'd have made sense to do anyway while the back is off.
Stripping the thing is not easy... But awesome instructions at iFixIt site. You will need a spudger, and some guitar picks, or something of that ilk. Once it's apart though it's all really quite straight forward.
After a test and re-assemble, it went back together, the back had a bit of a polish to get some of the marks off it, and it was ready to rock.
Total cost was under £200, sourcing the iPod, and one of the memory cards from eBay (be VERY careful of fake SD cards. Also stick with the stuff that's tried and tested by the fella who makes the card). You think that's pricey..? The Pono is $400 (£260) and offers only 8hrs of playback and 64GB of storage. The biggest current iPod is 128GB and a whopping £329. The biggest iPod there has been was 160GB which go for £100-200 on ebay depending on condition. In which case, a modded to the hilt one for less than £200 that out-performs them all is a bit of a bargain. /smug mode engaged.
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