feedback wanted on hi-fi iPod docks

Does anybody have any experiece of using hi-fi iPod docks - the kind that let you connect the gadget to one of the input channels of a hi-fi amp/pre-amp or control unit?

I’ve been looking at the Arcam irDock and the Project Dock Box - Any feedback on either of those devices or any suitable alternative would be gratefully received.

I would want to connect the one of the inputs on my QUAD-33 control unit (probably the tape input as I no longer use that) - it’s only has analog inputs so a device like the Onkyo ND-S1 would not reall be suitable (without purchasing an additional DAC anyway).


Any reason you’re not just using one of these?

One of the technically odd visions I had a while back was watching somebody run a full theater with his iPod Touch and one of those cables. We designed the theater to do this, but still.


Hi Koz,

yes I have used something similar in the past to connect my iPod to a desktop B&O system with good results - however mine needs to terminate in a 5-pin DIN plug for the (now ancient) QUAD-33 and even for the B&O - so in fact I have exactly the lead you show with a further lead with a pair of RCA female to 5-pin DIN (which I soldered up some years ago to connect my Nak tapedeck to the QUAD).

What I have against using the headphone socket of the iPod is that the signal passes throughthe iPod’s amp as well as its DAC - whereas in one those cradle-docky jobbies the signal is taken off the iPod’s DAC with no amplification added (AFAICT from the specs anyway).

BTW my thinking on this stemmed from considering the purchase of a Brennan JB7, which you could consider to be a sort of mains iPod (but without the benefit if iTunes). The downsides would include having to build a whole parallel music library in the Brennan (and back it up) and some poor UI design decisions that Brennan have made (why on earth are they using FAT-32 rather than NTFS - and why only a mere 7 playlists). The upsides would be a high-quality on-board DAC and mains use only with no iPod battery to degrade.

I suppose what I really hanker after is still a proper Apple-built “mains iPod” - a hi-fi unit that can be plumbed into my hi-fi and connected to my laptop’s iTunes library when updates are necessary - but Bill ain’t gonna be building one of those devices methinks.

And yes I know that there are wireless streaming devices too, but I don’t really want to depend on wireless or indeed have to keep my PC always-on to feed the remote hi-fi (or buy a separate PC for a music server).


And the other reason is that both the docks I listed come with a remote - so the lazy amongst us can control (some of) the ipod’s functions from the comfort of the sofa.

One of the key reasons for looking at Dock/cable/Brennan/wireless server is the avoidance of keep having to jump off the sofa to the CD payer and the CD rack to change a track :slight_smile:

That and the wonderful serendipitous power of the “shuffle” function. How else do you slip from Vivaldi=>Zappa=>Wagner=>The Beatles=>Charlie Parker … ?


I’m looking to do a similar thing myself.
In my case I’m wanting to replace a wall full of CDs/tapes/records with a network player.

I’ve recently purchased an LG N2A2 NAS drive (2 x 1 TB network attached storage as 1 TB RAID 1 drive). I’m very pleased with it and it has a lot of built in features including DLNA (Media streaming server), iTunes Music Server, FTP, DDNS (Internet access from anywhere) and more. Power consumption is a miserly 9 W when running, and virtually nothing when asleep. It’s also pretty quiet, though that’s not particularly important as it’s in another room.

I’m gradually getting my music collection transferred over to it, but have not yet decided on a long term solution for the player. Currently I’m using my laptop with a Behringer UCA-202, (which has the advantage of a comprehensive music library management system), but I’ll eventually be looking for a dedicated solution.

Will an iPod work as a DLNA client? (plenty of references on Google about using an iPod as a DLNA server, but I’ve found no mention of using one as a client). Or could I perhaps use it with the iTunes server, but would that mean that I would need to tarnish my laptop with iTunes? (I don’t really know how an iTunes server works).

Another option is that I could “retire” my laptop to the task and furnish it with a USB optical S/PDIF. (I have an optical S/PDIF input in my sound system).

I’ve also been looking at network players, but they seems to be rather expensive for what you get.

I haven’t had very good experiences with DLNA devices…

I have a DLNA TV but I was never able to make it work… and I tried different dlna servers on my linux box (which were said to be supported on the tv’s manual).

I also got a NAS server which is DLNA capable, and I actually was able to make it work with the TV, but only once and very poorly…

Eventually I got a media center/player or whatever you’d like to call it… It’s an Asus O!Play and it works pretty well (though the menus and navigation are pretty crappy).
I have it connected to the tv by an hdmi cable. The unit also has RCA outputs (1 for video and 2 for audio). I have the audio ones connected to my external speakers (with built-in amp). It works pretty well, but probably the quality of the DAC on the O!Play is not that good… But it does the job. I’m not too picky about that (yet).

If you’re a mac guy, and money is no problem… I’d say get a mini-mac instead and use it as a media center. If I had one that’s what I’d do and I’d run XBMC on it :slight_smile:

Yet another option would be an XBox 360 to stream from the network.

Back to waxcylinder’s original post - I have a full-size Arcam D/A converter and the sound quality is gorgeous, so if the name is anything to go by…

I’d say get a mini-mac instead and use it as a media center.

That’s basically what I did. This is my TV/stereo/production center.

I’m up to three external drives. You can do live video like that with FireWire.

I don’t require constant music, so I’m missing house-wide distribution and TV Anywhere. That and the house isn’t that big. The latest EyeTV Tuner works over Cat5, so the tuner could be in the attic. It doesn’t have to be on the table.

I only did that because the last tuner was there and the antenna connection existed.


I clean forgot about this. I’m at work and I’m listening to a song from somebody else in the building. I have no idea who some of these people are. This is Standard iTunes Network Sharing service (I have mine turned off).
Whoever Stephen is, I’m going to have to find him and compliment him on his music.

Which is playing through iTunes on your MacBook Pro/Air?

It’s a MacBook Pro, but I wouldn’t be shocked to find that a Touch on the WiFi network could access the same music. It’s a digital download, not streaming, so you get the quality of the original work.

It seems to be immune to the “Authorized Computer” thing, but the music does vanish when the far user packs it in and goes home.

My iTunes opens up with a copy of the music and display on the far machine. I haven’t tried, but I bet I can make local playlists and select the order of the songs. Maybe not.

I can try this at home. … If I ever get there.


Well, that was painful. I didn’t have a lot of trouble sharing iTunes over WiFi or the wired network, but it did make me jump through Authorization and Sharing hoops. I swear we don’t do this at work. I’m missing a trick or two.

The iPod Touch was a little more of an adventure. I found it under a pile of books and it still had some battery left, so I charged it and found its OS way behind that needed for proper sharing – and even if updated, it may never be advanced enough for over-the-air listening/sharing. We’ll see.

The other thing I’ve never done is marry the Touch with the laptop. That seems to be required to do an OS upgrade. The two or three tiny preference and setup tools expand like a peacock into a full set of administration tools once plugged into a “real” computer. This solves a lot of problems and it’s one of the reasons the Touch was under a pile of books.

I wonder how I’m supposed to do this if the Touch is my only Mac – or my only computer…

The whole thing is in the “Server Room” doing upgrades, syncs, and backups. Maybe I’ll take this opportunity to dig through my pile of “Priceless British Antiques Roadshows.”


I lose on Sports Call®.

My iPod Touch is a first or second generation and will not upgrade further than IOS 4.2. IOS 4.3 is the operating system with Music Sharing, “Air Play,” Video Conferencing, iChat, etc. etc. etc, and runs on third and fourth generation machines.

Back under the pile of books.

I got the other two Macs to share and I can tell you that if you load your CDs into iTunes, you can create a favorite playlist on the other computer and the music will follow you. Your purchased music will follow you, too if you Authorize your computer – taking two of your five possible authorizations.


So with a Mac Mini sitting in the parlor with your choice of WiFi equipment, you can have your iPod Touch with you in the garden while you trim the ivy listening to your Herbie Mann collection. You’ll be listening, the ivy will just be sitting there.

If both are Authorized, you can share your entire music library that way and you can do that with five individual computers total. There is the option now of paying extra and getting higher quality downloads that have no DRM. There is also the provision to “convert” your existing library, but I have no experience with that. I think you get a bill if you do that. It doesn’t actually convert anything, it just downloads the non-DRM version.

The latest Mini is super tiny, but has no optical drive. You can buy an external one. Get FireWire, not USB.

No, I don’t remember the original question, either.


why on earth are they using FAT-32 rather than NTFS

All external drives come formatted FAT32 because unmodified Macs and Windows can write to those. Macs without extra software will not write to an NTFS volume.


Not entirely true… some newer and larger drives are now shipping formatted in NTFS, because FAT has some size limitations… Ok you can have up to 2TB FAT32 partition, that is not yet a big problem, but the 4GB maximum file size is starting to be a real problem!

I don’t like NTFS being used as a cross-plataform filesystem but there is not really any much better alternative yet that is supported out-of-the-box by all 3 most popular OS…

Anyway we’re going way too off-topic here… sorry Peter :slight_smile:

ROFLMAO - a thread full of interest, nonetheless :smiley:

Actually, following some deeper interweb review research, I went ahead and ordered the Arcam irDock, it arrived this morning and is already plumbed into the back of my QUAD 33 control unit and delivering a good signal from my iPod Classic to my ESL speakers. It did require some juggling to get the input impedances well matched, but it’s working well. That cute little remote will save a lot of walking from the sofa to the hi-fi …

What I will have to do now is to re-rip those earlier CD rips I made when I only had a small 30 gig iPod when I was using 192 bitrate. So the qestion now is: do I settle for 256 or go the whole hog to 320 VBR AAC - will I hear the difference? Currently my 160 gig iPod is roughly just over half full with a mixture of 192 and 256 rips/recordings -s there should be enough room for 320. But I don’t want to risk running out of space in the future, like my son already has on his iPod, as I don’t think Steve will be making bigger iPods anytime soon (the future is the “cloud” methinks sadly).


Update 6Oct12: Sadly Steve J. will not be making any more iPods of any description - R.I.P.