Fatman iTube Valve Dock

Fatman iTube Valve Dock

It looks even cooler with the black "cage" on the right removed.

 

Are you ready for worlds to collide? That's what happens when you put your iPod together with the Fatman iTube Valve Dock: You force the worlds of digital and analog to coexist. The iTube Valve Dock is a vacuum-tube-based amplifier that takes your iPod's digital music and gives it a good ol' fashioned analog tune-up. The result: sound quality that will melt the hearts and ears of true audiophiles.

 

Sound junkies - usually those over the age of 35 - often complain that digital music lacks warmth. It's almost as if you can sense the music's "binaryness." The iTube Valve Dock processes your digital music using vacuum tubes, so you end up with music that has greater richness and texture than the audio straight from your iPod.

 

There are two parts to the shiny chrome iTube Valve Dock: the amplifier and the iPod dock. Both have separate power cords, so you need two available outlets on your surge protector. The amplifier has two sets of audio-in jacks, so you can connect your iPod and another device, such as a CD player. The dock even has composite and S-Video output connectors, so you can connect the dock to a TV if you have a video-capable iPod. But you're out of luck if you want to sync your iPod while it's docked, because the dock can't connect to your Mac.

 

The bottom line. Boy, the iTube Valve Dock is expensive. But true audio aficionados who yearn for music with a sense of texture will be delighted with the iTube Valve Dock's ability to produce warm, "real" sound. If you're one of these folks, you'll likely find it's worth the price.

 

COMPANY: TL Audio
CONTACT: www.fat-man.co.uk
PRICE: $649
REQUIREMENTS: iPod with dock connector, speakers
Excellent warm audio quality. Stunning looks. Includes remote control. Has video-out jack.
Pricey. No bass and treble indicators. Occupies two power outlets. Can't sync iPod to Mac.

 

 

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Tom

I've read the review in the new issue of MacLife, and while the reviewer is pleased with the sound of the unit, there's no explanation of what it actually does. Does it boost the treble and bass, giving the impression of better sound? Or does it add some even-order distortion, like the Vintage Warmer plug-in? Tubes can sound wonderful in guitar amps and well-designed audio components, but remember that many of the finest recording studio preamps and mixing consoles are solid state. It takes more than throwing a couple of tubes into a product to make it "audiophile". And remember, we're talking about the iPod which is almost synomymous with "mp3". How good can lossy compression sound anyway?

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