We don't normally announce the release of iPod docks on our website but two recently launched products are worth a bit of a fanfare.
The Onkyo ND-S1 digital transport is suitable where an iPod is to be connected to a home cinema amp or DAC. Instead of extracting the analogue signal from an iPod, the ND-S1 takes the digital signal from the player and passes it to, say, an AV receiver via the (coaxial or optical) digital outputs. Having a more capable external amp do the decoding results in improved sound. The unit has a USB socket and, if connected to a PC, allows synchronisation between an iPod and iTunes. The ND-S1 is available in silver and black and is supplied with a remote control.
The Arcam irDock is the successor to Arcam's terrific iDock. As with Arcam's previous model, the irDock has sensational build quality and incorporates audiophile components. An iPod sounds better if powered by its own battery and the irDock allows charging to be bypassed to allow this. An additional benefit of the charging override is that the battery isn't being charged before it needs to, therefore increasing the iPods's life expectancy.
If connected to an Arcam Solo, say, the irDock passes artist and song information through to the connected system's display. The system's remote control will also control the irDock. The irDock comes with its own remote, though, so owners of other systems/amps can benefit, too. Another nice touch is the provision of an S-Video socket as well as a composite output for viewing videos and photos on a TV. The irDock is compatible with the latest iPods, including the iPhone 3GS.
The Onkyo ND-S1 transport and Arcam irDock both cost £149.99 and, as well as providing other benefits, make a huge difference to the sound quality of an iPod when played through a hi-fi. Both are now in stock at Hi-Fi Stereo.