Once in a while, we see iPod accessories that really expand the capabilities of an already perfect portable player. Surely it is a portable player, and therefore the question whether an iPod can copmensate for a good ol’ Hi-Fi Stereo system, based on either audiophiliac vynil or high-tech CD player? Until recently purists would argue that no system based on an iPod or digital audio player would come even close to the Hi-Fi quality. This attitude is changing with the arrival of high-end iPod docks and audiophile players that play uncompressed file formats, but it’s slow going. With the right sound dock and speakers, your iPod might be capable of crisp sound, clear sound, even detailed sound, but can it ever produce a rich, warm, lifelike tone?
Perhaps it can. At the end of last year Fatman – an offshoot of professional amplification specialists TL Audio – released the iTube ValveDock iPod music system; a valve-based iPod dock and amplifier that used the warm tone of valves to compensate for the tonal weaknesses of the iPod and other digital audio players. This idea was a big success, earning Fatman praise and plaudits everywhere, including here at TrustedReviews. With high-end iPod speaker systems all the rage these days, it’s no wonder that it’s an idea that other manufacturers are keen to give their best. Enter Logic3, and the Valve 80 Amplifier and Speakers. Logic3 is a company we’re more familiar with from Wii accessories and other gaming accessories than audio, but the manufacturer already produces a range iPod accessories, and has clearly thought hard about how to do a high-end product right. For a start, the Valve 80 looks the part. The chassis, with its glossy stainless steel cover, puts those gorgeous, glowing vacuum tubes exactly where they should be – centre stage – with the transformer to the left and the dock itself to the right. It’s all stripped back and classy, without extraneous displays or controls, and with music playing, the valves glowing and a volume meter on the front valve pulsating in sync with the music, it’s the sort of system that you want to sit listening to in a darkened room. Is this the finest iPod accessory on the market? That’s debatable, but it is surely one of those iPod accessories that truly expands the usability of iPod players.