The rDock feels, weighs, and looks like it was milled out of a single aluminum ingot. Its quality is immediately obvious, which, at a price of about $260, is reassuringly nice to see.
Inside, the story is even better. The rDock sports buffered audio output with high performance op-amps and low noise, double regulated power supplies. Its RCA stereo connectors are gold plated, so the rDock is not shy about coupling with audiophile grade wires.
The rDock connects to your iPod not via its headphone jack, which can muck up the sound, but by the line out connector on its bottom.
The rDock charges the iPod while connected, but charging can also be turned off on the rDock. Why would you turn it off? It’s because charging your iPod can introduce AC gremlins that chew into the sound. Battery powered iPod playback isolates these electric company beasties.
S-Video and Composite video outputs on the rDock also let you play big screen vids and pics off your Video iPod. Altogether, the Arcam rDock is a serious piece of kit.
So how did it sound? In a word, bummer. Not because the rDock wasn’t doing the right thing. Just the opposite—It was too good! Laid out and dissected like an alien autopsy were all the miserable guts of compressed mp3 files. The Ta’us speakers barfed them out like so much bad sushi.
The psychoacoustics of your ear buds, even very high quality units like the Shure E500 phones apparently mask most of this mp3 awfulness. But played in an acoustically open space via a highly transparent high-end rig the miserable compressed truth becomes stunningly obvious.
Conspiracy nuts take note. Jobs is an evil genius.
21st, The VXM Network, http://www.vxm.com