Arcam rDock iPod docking station

So you've got an iPod, you want to share the music outloud, however don't want to invest in a miniature speaker set because your Hi-Fi or Home Cinema offering is top of the range.

Arcam, the Hi-Fi specialists, believe it has the answer - the Arcam rDock that promises to connect your Apple MP3 player to your amp and give you stunning results. So what does this £130 gadget give you that a £3 cable won't? We get listening to find out.

The rDock is a weighty standalone device that expects to sit on your TV stand. Independently powered, connections offered at the back include phono audio out, phono video out, S-video out and a connector that will allow you to connect it to the company's Solo and Solo movie systems.

The brushed metal design as minimalist as it could be and the only detailing is a button on the front accompanied by a blue or red light.

That button isn't as you might expect an on/off switch in the traditional sense of the word, but a switch that allows you to decide whether or not while your iPod is in the dock you want it charging.

Arcam say this not only allows you to let the iPod run out before recharging (its better for your battery) but because the sound boffins at the company believe that without the charging you get a better sound running off the iPod battery alone.

In our home tests we personally couldn't tell the difference, even at loud enough volumes to annoy the neighbours, but it did allow us to test the rDock's performance.

Wow. No hiss, no feedback issues, no dropout, just very clear sound. How is this possible? The rDock includes a pre-amp for iPod with high performance op-amps and low noise, double-regulated power supplies.

Without an Arcam Solo to test the dock on, we weren't able to see the remote working in action (we tested it on a Denon Amp instead) however from a previous demo we've had, it all looks very simple.

As an added bonus the system also displays info like track details, etc, on the Solo or Solo Movie's scrolling dot-matrix front-panel display.

Of course the connect-ability with the Arcam kit means that Arcam hasn't included a remote control for the docking station, something that lazy people will miss.

Verdict

With video output to take advantage of the new iPods ability to watch movies as well as the chance to share pictures on your screen, this is a strong alternative to the £179 Apple TV product.

The lack of remote control is a tad annoying but then if you're already apart of the Arcam family then this isn't an issue.

A good solid performer for those who are looking for only the best.