about everyone, I have been touched by the iPod revolution.
Let's be blunt and direct: this whole iPod phenomenon is a big
compromise. The quality of the audio files one can buy on the iTune
store is abysmal: nothing less than a lossless format should please
the most primitive audiophile. This awful "standard" quality
becomes intolerable when one uses high end in-ear earphones such
as the Shure
E5C (my favorite 2005 buy) but is already blatant with decent
cheap ones such as the Senheiser MX500. Sure, the simple solution
is to encode one's CDs using a lossless format such as the Apple
Lossless codec. However, this approach is not without drawbacks:
in that format, a 4GB iPod will only store 10-12 CDs and, much
worse, the battery life of any hard-disk based iPod will take a
very significant hit (up to 80% less running time) because the
large size of the lossless music files will require constant refreshes
of the small iPod cache...
...which is why my iPod kept running out of battery
and I started toying with the idea of buying a decent docking
station that would allow me to listen to music and keeo the beast
charged at the same time.
The first option I considered was the iPod
Apple has released to "reinvent Home Stereo". Ouch! Does home
stereo really begs for a reinvention? I don't think so, especially when
I discovered the very vague iPod HiFi tech
its scary frequency response characteristics (53Hz to 16kHz ± 3
dB). Only Apple could use a thing such as "Maximum
peak sound pressure level" in an advertisement for an audio system
and get away with it. No thanks! I then set my eyes on the Bose
While I do have mixed feelings about Bose's systematic sound processing, I am
also the relatively happy owner of a pair of version 6 901s. Could Bose top Apple?
Well, instead of making a mountain of poor specs, Bose simply doesn't
give any. In a way, this is more honest, but not very encouraging.
I decided to hook my iPod to my conventional stereos. Of course, I kept
running out of battery and cursing about it.
Enter the iTube
That's when I met the Fat Man. I was walking down the street
when my eye caught some shiny reflections in the window of a hi-fi store.
Enter the iTube
Fatman, a valve amplifier hooked to a matching docking station.
The specs are quite decent
- Frequency Response 20Hz – 20KHz
- Harmonic Distortion
- Signal-To-Noise Ratio 86Db
While Fatman plays a bit on its professional image. This
is actually a Dared
MP5 in disguise. This Chinese company established in 1995 offers has
enjoyed good reviews (review1,
I reviewed the iTube on my trusty old NAD 801 MM bookshelf
speakers and am planning a retest on Tannoy Reveal 66 monitors. I don't
believe hooking the iTube to extremely high-end speakers is actually
worth the trouble.
Pablo Casals's reference interpretation
Cello Suites: excellent.
Mstislav Rostropovich's version of the very same Bach's
excellent, very smooth and warm.
Led Zeppelin's Stairway
poor, lack of dynamic range. Slightly distorted trebles.
low distortion, very clean, natural sound, excellent
for chamber music.
amazingly natural voices.
has punch, 2x13W, real ones, can probably drive
looks great, especially when the valve's protective
cover has been removed.
complete bundle, cables, remote, gloves.
all things considered, a good value for money when compared to
Apple's iPod Hi-Fi or the Bose iPod soundock.
hard drive based iPod will cause interference
during hard drive accesses.
very poor earphone connection: barely touching
the case sends high pitched noise into the earphones.
very cruel to poor recordings.
dual power supply as
if we had too many plugs.
the provide cables aren't matched to the design,
or even pretty.
gets dirty in a second, fingeprint magnet.
each and every product I review has been purchased normally, with my
hard earned cash.