iPod docking station - Belkin vs Wadia vs Arcam

Lazy and looking for an affordable (i.e. cheap) iPod docking station to play music thru my audiophile system. Don't want to have to invest in a DAC. Understand that the Wadia unit requires a DAC. I'm aware of units sold by Arcam ($300) and Belkin ($100). No remote with the Arcam. Anyone have any experience with these units?
The Wadia unit does not require a DAC. If you want to get the best you would use a DAC with it, but it has analog outputs.
I hope you guys that know will add to the thread because I would love to add a good dock. It seems the market is just a bit too new. For everyday listening, I just patch the ipod out to aux in. I'm good for 6 hours or more depending on the play list. I don't expect the dock to replace a turntable or cd player. Music direct has a Wadia, dac and cable combo that looks interesting. After hundreds of hours of use, Costco can sell me a new ipod for less than the repair bill of anybodys Music server. Am I on the right track here?
If you're going to use the DAC in the ipod why even waste your time.
You could recommend 2 or 3 dac's that are appropriate for my use.
Price range and what CDP are you currently using?
Last years RMAF I heard a demo which compared an ipod on an apple docking station to a reasonably good CDP on a nice sounding system (don't remember the components, but a Pathos integrated was involved) and I was surprised at the quality of the docking station. The guys doing the demo said the quality is much worse when you take the ipod's headphones out. Using the docking station bypasses the ipod's volume control, which is a significant improvement.
The Wadia unit does not require a DAC

I spoke with the Wadia folks for a while at RMAF, the unit hijacks the digital stream [i]before[/i] it gets to the Wolfson DAC in the iPod, then outputs it via a digital interface to an external DAC.
You have 3 options.
1. Wadia with an external dac--perhaps the best route--very impressive but depends on your dac--though can be used in analog mode
2. Red Wine Audio iMod -- see 6moons review -- only for generation 4 and 5 iPods
3. basic analogue iPod dock by Apple (best of the type), Belkin, Kensington etc
I've heard all 3 and definitely prefer the Wadia.
You might want to look for this information on headfi as there are a large number of folks that use such things at that site.

Please clarify - I can use the Wadia docking station without a DAC and not significantly compromise the sound?
I looked it up; I have an Onkyo dx5500 that has never been plugged into a dac. I don't even recall a dac available to buy in 1989. Today Music Direct and Cruthfield both offer the PS audio Digital Link III. Probably mid-grade for an uneducated guess. My gear plays good, so I have time to learn and shop during this upgrade. The JBL L166 and 4 Advents stay. 5000 LP's and 1000 cd's stay. I've had the ipod classic for 5 months and I have not found it easy at all. Yet, once working, it will play for hours without operator action. I like that. How much to spend? I don't know. I have more money than stereo knowledge. The McIntosh dealers in Tustin and Pasadena are unimpressive. Actually marginal product knowledge is more accurate. That Wadia purchase at Music direct is an easy purchase. Todate, I would consider McIntosh, Naim, Quad, LFD or Bryston. Guys, I really don't know what is appropriate.
Buying the Wadia to use the analog outs defeat the purpose. The reason the Wadia is special is that it can output a digital stream. If you are going to use analog outs, just buy the apple doc for $40. Maybe go with the Arcam or one of the others if you want a more high end look.
Check out the Krell Kid. It is a pretty awesome piece. I have mine hooked up to a pair of quad 12L actives and for a small system that I can take everywhere, it is awesome. The kid also has tone controls and I think it definately improves upon the sound of the ipod. I own the wadia as well hooked up to the new ps audio dac and I think the krell sounds a bit better and the build quality smokes the wadia which is a plastic piece of junk.
the reviews of the wadia point out the advantage of the digital out to dac. the sound was highly improved in this way. using the analogue out wasts your money, your still using the ipod dac.
I know you guys get tired with rookies not knowing the terminology or what these new boxes do. I was so unsure of myself, I have an av system in the same room and separate from the stereo. This Arcam av is so good to my ears, it's hard to imagine anyone disatisfied. I will look at the Krell before I order the PS.
My $.02.....Just bought the Wadia iTransport. It is very good and waaaay better than using the DAC in the Ipod. You must have an external dac (I am using a Camelot Uther v2 mk 4). Honestly, the Ipod is so close to going from the CD transport that it is scary. In fact on most (99%) of recordings, I cannot tell the difference. This is such a cool piece because it allows a person to listen for mucho hours without having to get up and change the CD. Plus it is so cool and convenient to have hi rez recording for playlists. One caveat...you must record the Ipod songs in hi rez or you are defeating the purpose. Just record in AIFF or other "lossless" format and you will be amazed. The only thing I do not like is the remote as it basically will "start" "stop" or forward / back of tracks -- and it will not display on your tv. You cannot switch playlists or scroll to different tracks.
If you want convienance, not going to use an external DAC, and would like to change songs without getting up, you can use a long mini to stereo (red & white) cable. I am currently using a 16' Zu pivot cable. This allows me to sit back in my listening chair and have the Ipod in my hand.

Note: I also am curently in the market for the Wadia dock to transport to my Cambridge 840C CDP DAC inputs.
Someone said the Krell Kid sounds better than the Wadia. That defies logic and I highly doubt the possibility.

The Krell has tone controls to manage the awful sound of the IPOD. Is that supposed to be good? The Wadia bypasses the sound management of the Ipod and delivers bit-perfect digital music to however good of a system you have. I have the Wadia going in to a Pre with tone controls and the tone controls aren't needed because the sound (using lossless music files) is as good as any CD player I've heard.
Correct if I am wrong. Using the Wadia transport with a DAC, can the DAC be hooked up to a preamp that does not have a digital input? Both of my 2 channel preamps inputs are all RCAs. I am currently using my iPod dock with 1/4" plug out to 2 RCA males (the *onster brand).
Wadia ITransport to DAC of choice by digital cable. DAC to RCA cables to preamp, amp or receiver giving you digital audio conversion.
Using the Wadia lets you send a perfect digital bitstream to the DAC of choice, pricerange, etc.
I also have been thinking about the Wadia itransport. I like the idea of convenience, and also the ability to listen to other folks ipod collections while they drop in to visit. My question is the age/quality of a dac. A few years ago I bought a conrad johnson (non-tube) dac, vintage 1996, that I never got around to using. Would a dac of this age, with a quality digital interconnenct, work ok? Thanks, Dave
Age of DAC: I'm no expert, but the age should not matter. If the system can create good sound from digital music, then it is ready for the Wadia iTransport....

I had a musician in my home recently and he wondered if his Iphone would play live recordings (lossless) of his Jazz band on my Wadia. It worked well. He also said it was the best the recording had ever sounded -- on any system. That was the first time I had the fun of sharing my system with a visitor's music. It was a delight for both of us.
One last note on the iTransport. It sounds better than my Sony ES CD player. The bass is fuller when comparing the same tracks back to back. Fascinating since the Wadia is playing the digital copy of the CD.
You don't need a docking station to use your iPod. I use the Cadas iPod Cable, 2 RCA jacks to a mini jack plugged directecly into my tape deck inputs and the sound is just great. Less is more. I mean if you really want to go the cheap route.
Excuse me,"Cardas"
No, you don't need a dock. But, if you want great sound out of an ipod to a good system, the Wadia gives you what the Ipod alone (or the Ipod with other docks)can't.

Do you have a miniplug into the headphone output and then to RCA plugs? You would do better with a custom cable - iPod male dock to RCA. This bypasses the crappy headphone amp in the iPod. I use one from Ken Ball at Audio Line Out.

Less is certainly more; but it's not that cheap. ;-)

Metralla, yes the mini plugs into the headphone jack. As I said before I am using a Cardas cable now that was made for the iPod but also had excellent results with the Kimber Kable as well.
I only brought this up because the poster of this thread says he does not want to get a DAC with the Wadia. It is my understanding that without accessing the digital feed via a DAC first then there is really no need for this docking station. I just got a great deal here on Audiogon for the Wadia and a 160 gig iPod and I am looking at the Benchmark, Bryston, PS Audio line of DACs to complete my set up.
Noshortcuts, in the Oct. 2008 issue of Stereophile Wes Phillips states in his review of the 170i and I quote "if your going to listen solely through its analog outputs, you could buy an iPod classic AND dinner for two with $330 you save by buying a bog-standard iPod docking cradle. The digital output is the real deal." My point is the same. No DAC? Why bother.
You are absolutely correct Dreadhead. No DAC? Don't bother with the Wadia.

I heard Pure-I20 is also a good candidate and it has a lot of rave reviews from a lot of people:-). I just ordered one for $99 and can't wait. You can google to find out more.
i tried several ipod doc before getting the wadia. compared to docs that use the dac in the ipod....the wadia is light years ahead...seriously. there really is no comparison.

no doubt you'll get similar results from other doc's that bypass the ipod dac. getting away from the ipod dac is the silver bullet regardless of how you get it done.

if you're not using an external dac?? all bets are off. it'll sound very sub-par regardless of the doc you choose.

btw....i just sold my wadia and went the streaming route.