Best ipod dock for audio quality ?

russellbridge

Standard Member
Which is the best ipod docking station for audio quality? Are there any available with digital / optical connections? I'd like it to charge the ipod as well if poss, but I'd also be interested in anyone's comments who thinks the headphone out socket gives better audio quality.

I've slowly been upgrading various hi-fi components and am now fairly happy with my Marantz SR8500 AV amp and Tannoy Saturn speakers. Most of my music is played through my ipod (ipod photo 60Gb) hooked up to the amp through the standard ipod dock and anologue leads. I don't use the ipod for photos so I'm not bothered about video connection. After upgrading my very old Denon dvd player and swapping to optical cables from analogue, I'm now wondering whether the same can be done for the ipod?

Options so far:
1) Kensington ipod docking station from Richer Sounds (about £15)
2) Marantz IS-201 (control through SR8500 remote looks possible) (about £99)
3) Onkyo DS-A2 (about £70)
4) DLO Homedock (about £120)
5) Iwantit IW300 from Currys (about £40)

Cheers

Russ
 

Bachstrad

Well-known Member
I'm very happy with the Bose SoundDock, it's a bit more expensive than the models you've listed but is very good IMHO.

ATB

Max
 

lazymatt

Active Member
The Marantz and Onkyo are both supposed to be very very good. Although for me, the Kensington is excellent value at the moment. But I'm not sure if you'd necessarily notice a difference over what you have already.
 

hornydragon

Distinguished Member
the advantage of the Onkyo Denon marantz docks is the integration to your existing system (uses same remote control IR wired interface etc) the Onkyo does carge the ipod as well i assume the marantz one will and the denon does.
 

russellbridge

Standard Member
Thanks for the replies...

I popped into Superfi and Practical Hi-Fi in Manchester earlier today and got an answer as to why there's no docks on the market with digital out - apparently its to prevent music copyright - ie the only allowable 'out' method from an mp3 player is analogue, although who's enforcing this I don't know?

I'm favouring the marantz purely for compatibility, although PHF did say they're struggling to get it working, but they'd happily offer a refund if it didn't work. I'd still really like an optical audio link somehow but it's looking unlikely....

Russ
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
If you're using MP3, FLAC etc. then a number of Network Audio Players offer digital outputs (try the Squeezebox for one) but they need some file storage usually on a PC or Network Attached Storage (NAS) for the music and a wired/wireless network to access it.

If you're using music from the iTunes store then you won't find anything that will read it and output a digital signal because of copy protection. In fact AFAIK only an iPod, iTunes, Airport Express or Apple TV gagdet will be able to decode it at all.
 

hornydragon

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the replies...

I popped into Superfi and Practical Hi-Fi in Manchester earlier today and got an answer as to why there's no docks on the market with digital out - apparently its to prevent music copyright - ie the only allowable 'out' method from an mp3 player is analogue, although who's enforcing this I don't know?

That may well be an apple thing loads of other devices have digital out for files stored in MP3 format http://www.imerge.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=191&Itemid=387
 

dr_mabuse

Active Member
Another vote for the Bose here. Bit pricey but worth it for the audio quality. Great sound, charges as it goes, looks cool (esp if you have a black ipod).

dr_m
 

Rookies

Distinguished Member
The intempo floor standing dock is FAB and it loud and it got some lovely bass on it too. John lewis sell it have a look at that too
 

russellbridge

Standard Member
AMc, many thanks for that - the Squeezebox looks very good and I've found some very good reviews for it, obviously not what I was looking for originally but I've got a networked drive in another room with all my music on it and a network already set up so this seems a very good way of getting higher quality mp3's into the marantz av amp using an optical link.

There's another product coming out apparently called the Creative Xdock which features an optical out so perhaps there's more docks on the way with optical out...

Russ
 

Semiskimmed1976

Active Member
I have the Onkyo DS-A2 and very happy I am too - excellent sound quality, but to be honest I haven't compared it to any other docking stations, so that comment may not be worth much!?
 

jason44mag

Well-known Member
I went the kensington route, for the money 15.00 its a steal !

I just wanted to check out how my system sounds using a dock & ipod and i figured that 15.00 was worthing missing to check it out, you can also chuck it on ebay and not lose alot of cash if you decide on a more expensive piece of kit.

Also from memory these docks were about 67.00 new :eek:

I can also vouch for the sound quality too & a definate bonus is being to store all my cds on the ipod and keep the orginal disks in the attic keeping my stereo area clutter free :smashin:
 

mikeymike

Standard Member
hi,
is there really a diference in the SOUND quality between the docks that anyone has noticed ?
I bough an onkyo dock and a micro onkyo 515 system and it sounds good, much better than through the headphone socket with a cable.

In the main room i have a roksan kandy amp and want to buy a dock for that one too. Whathifi saya denon sounds the best, but i have been told the marantz is better and there is an Arcam one coming soon! can they really influence the sound so much ? has anyone had any experience of this ?

Does the maratnz one come with an interconnect ?

Thanks !
 

Crustyloafer

Distinguished Member
I would say that the new Arcam R-Dock is one of the best sounding docks out. Even the ability to switch off the charging and run the iPod off it's internal batteries is aimed at improving performance by allowing the source to run off a pure DC source.

Please see attached file for more info.
 

mikeymike

Standard Member
Thnaks for that,
Have you actually heard the arcam one ? I havent been able to find a shop that stocks it.
 

pablo99

Active Member
The way I read your post you want a dock for audio connection to your hi-fi not a speaker system like the Bose.

I think you use the same route as me. A apple universal dock and a monster cable 3.5mm jack to two phonos into my Cyrus kit. This is perfectly good. Remote control too.

You won't get better sound from more expensive ones, just maybe more features, like the Arcam Solo remote working the ipod (if you have a Solo ;) )

£130 quid for the Arcam dock.......... what a waste of money:eek:

My apple universal dock can switch off the AC and run off batteries too, it's called the power switch on the wall!!:rolleyes:

Pablo
 

BAD Dave

Active Member
I would say that the new Arcam R-Dock is one of the best sounding docks out. Even the ability to switch off the charging and run the iPod off it's internal batteries is aimed at improving performance by allowing the source to run off a pure DC source.
Thanks, Crusty!

Is the Arcam dock that much better than the Onkyo one?

How much better is the audio qualiy of these 2 docks, compared to an Apple Universal dock?

If the Arcam dock was attached to the aux in of my Arcam AVR 350, could it be remotely controlled? Or does this feature only work with the Arcam Solo Remote?

Thanks
 

russellbridge

Standard Member
I think what I'm asking is:

Is there anyone out there who has subjectively compared the audio quality of these docks side by side and can advise as to whether there's any difference between a £15 dock and £130 dock? Or is it so marginal as to not bother?

Cheers

Russ
 

limegreenzx

Banned
I would have a look at www.ilounge.com for reviews. My personal opinion is that there will be very little difference between docks, what you're paying for are the benefits of the integration with your host amp. As far as sound quality goes the best docks will be the docks without any volume control. Keeping the signal path as original as possible will always give the best results.

I have the Kensington dock - It is still on the ilounge best dock list and at £15 from Richer Sounds it is less than the price of a Monster ipod cable. Buy it, if you don't like it use it as a charger.
 
S

stacks100

Guest
Monitor Audio i-deck. Beat Bose Soundock and Apple Hi-Fi in What Hi-Fi test.
 

Davy

Active Member
A apple universal dock and a monster cable 3.5mm jack to two phonos into my Cyrus kit. This is perfectly good. Remote control too.

You won't get better sound from more expensive ones, just maybe more features, like the Arcam Solo remote working the ipod (if you have a Solo ;) )

Pablo

Like Pablo, I have connected my iPod via a monster cable, from the headphone socket into my Denon amp. I use a JBL dock with the speakers turned off, so it is used only as a recharging device for the iPod. I am quite happy with this setup, although of course I don't have the remote facilities. The point of all this is, am I missing something wonderful in not having one of these docks and more importantly would they make the music sound so much better than the monster cable?
 

pablo99

Active Member
Like Pablo, I have connected my iPod via a monster cable, from the headphone socket into my Denon amp.

Not so, mine is connected through the universal dock. The iPod sits in the dock and the monster cable goes from the 3.5mm jack on the rear of the dock to 2 phonos on the Cyrus pre-amp.

It is preferable to use the output from the bottom of the ipod rather than the headphone socket.

stacks100 said:
Monitor Audio i-deck. Beat Bose Soundock and Apple Hi-Fi in What Hi-Fi test.

True, and a cracking speaker system/dock too. However the OP wanted to know about docks only for connection to existing Hi-fi and loudspeakers, not speaker systems.

Pablo
 

timlloyd

Novice Member
The new appletv has optical out and may be worth a look if you have the network in place. Everyone appears to be moaning about the poor video codec support and lack of 1080p etc but I'm interested in it more for mp3 and it's MCE type UI.

It's maybe not what your after but apart from MCE/MCE extenders or a Front Row mac is there another way of getting an album art type UI on your TV?

I have the orginal Onkyo dock but find the control next to useless with my Onkyo mini system, playlist up/down after pressing reverse play each time and that's about it.

I also have the DLO homedock deluxe, that works well for a TV UI, have not compared it to the Onkyo but it's pretty good fed into my Nad amp, others do the same now I believe. DLO have a new version coming out soon which adds album art display, playlist creation and on-screen menus for videos.

Tim
 

lazymatt

Active Member
Have you seen the new Zicplay one in this months What hi-fi? It's got a remote with a colour screen that mirrors the iPod as far as I can tell. Could be pretty good. Due next month I think.
 

knackered dad

Standard Member
Onkyo DS-A2 into my Arcam A70 sounds fantastic, Charges the ipod and has its own remote which is a little small but does the job, I paid £60.
 

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