Tube amps and iPods

There's a piece in this morning's NY Times about tube amp docking stations for iPods.
I don't see the point. iPods are the antithesis of high end audio.
Again with the troll thing Tvad? My major concern would be I've had capacitive discharges and stuff zap me putting my computer into tube pre's. I know Manley's not-quite-out-yet MantaRay is supposed to have an iPod (more gain maybe? grounded differently?) "special" RCA connection. So maybe you could go hi-end. Problem with that kind of docking station seems to me to be low quality plastic melting on you, and really low B+ capacitor stuff.
No troll. An opinion. Using a mid-fi source like an iPod with a tube amp, which presumes that using a tube amp will transform the playback quality of an iPod into something better...or higher fidelity, seems like an oxymoron to me. The same goes for iPods used with audiophile-grade solid state amps. I will admit it's fun marketing, albeit without substance.

As Leonard Bellezza, co-owner of Lyric HiFi, said in the article. “Everybody has an iPod. So anything you can attach to an iPod sells.”

Exactly. All sizzle and no steak.

I'm interested to hear from those who believe the iPod is a source that would benefit from tube amplification on any level...either high end or mid-fi products such as those mentioned in the referenced article.
if (a) your music is saved using apple lossless and (b) you take the data from the line out of the ipod rather than earphone jack, you have the start of a HDD-based digital source that is at least in the same ball park as other HDD systems. i am convinced that, with a good USB DAC (e.g., Wavelength), you can achieve results that are undeniably "high end."

i have no idea whether the tube ipod dock discussed in the NYT today would achieve the same results, but i don't think it's fair to say that an ipod can't be part of a high end digital front end.
I've seen a tube amp docking station at a local Mac store. It was black and silver but I don't think it was one of the ones in the picture accompanying the article. Cute as a button. It waas hooled up to an equally cute little speaker system like youfind with PCs. I don't know how it sounded. I think it's funny that the NY Times story has the category title "Novelties" in the header.

Some posts above suggest that a "lower" fidelity source cannot be assisted by a better component downstream. If this is true, then it logically follows that the source should always be the best component. Sounds like Tvad is a true "Linnie" like myself. logically follows that the source should always be the best component. Sounds like Tvad is a true "Linnie" like myself.
Markphd (Answers)
If that's the definition of a Linnie, then I am one, yes.

I, for one, believe the iPod is a source that would benefit from tube amplification. While I don't run my iPod through my main rig, I do have a laptop hooked up, and I stream various Internet radio stations at bit rates from 64k to 224k, very similar to typical iPod output. These streams were made far more listenable when I added a tube preamp. I'm not exactly sure why that's the case, but I'm guessing the tubes take the edge off the compression artifacts, while possibly adding some beneficial harmonics of their own.

The biggest difference between my setup and using an iPod would be the DAC. While I have a pretty inexpensive Firestone Audio FUBAR DAC, it may be better than the Wolfson in the iPod, and regardless it doesn't have to run through the amp as in the iPod. I'm sure the iPod, though, would receive the same benefit running through the tubes as my laptop/DAC does.

Does it sound as good as my vinyl or CDs? Of course not, because no compressed medium does. But there's great stuff on the Internet, and anything being streamed at 128k or above is definitely worth a listen.

Tvad, I'm just saying there are plenty of good reasons to hate this idea besides the iPod itself, which is obviously in and of itself and its thusness and thingliness, to quote Heidegger, a piece of crap. But onto "lossless" compression - lossless only after you remove all of those pesky over and undertones from the bandwidth and do compression algorythms which again remove "extra" data which might be in a record groove. Which by the way, you still own the record even when your computer or iPod goes belly up. And right now according to the law, you never own, but only rent music on MP3 - that's what the rights agreement really means. It's yours as long as you don't mind retaining it a certain way, losing it if something goes wrong, and then paying to rent it again. This is why no backups. Sounds like records companies, doesn't it? How many indy records could you get for $9.99? Alot. 10 hours of music for $100. doesn't seem so bad to me, especially when it sounds fantastic. And that's assuming iPod people buy albums. Remember when you would listen to an 80 minute CD or three pack vinyl and it was a journey that was a story and had a point, and maybe said something about life? Sometimes you just can't say the same thing in a three minute hit. Do we really need to contribute more to throw away, artless, cultureless shlock that's gone in five minutes? Have you caught any of the Steve Jobs whining about how the record companies won't go along with letting people back up their stuff, and albums don't sell, singles do? The way the iPod is marketed, and with how crappy it sounds, what were they expecting? Doesn't it sound more like trying to win people like us over and the naysayers in the press, rather than actually change things? My point was more about disposable culture, gadgets, and badly made products. But some people don't have space or time or any (of the very low amount required for a decent system) technical skill. So be it.
You will never meet a more arrogant guy than Leonard Bellezza of LYRIC HIFI.
Wow, Biomimetic, great rage against the machine. If your "point was more about disposable culture, gadgets, and badly made products", I'm not sure you made your point. If you just don't like the iPod, that's cool. If you just don't like today's music, that's cool too. But the battle you purport to be fighting was lost long before you or I were even born.

As for me, I've never "rented" an MP3 in my life, but I have about 200 hours of music ripped from my own CD collection. My wife, on the other hand, loves buying both individual tracks and whole albums from iTunes, and has discovered lots of great music while only risking $.99. I think both of our paradigms are valid.

And by the way, I have plenty of "technical skill", and yet still choose to listen to music on my iPod. Amazing, huh?



And I know for a fact that Heidegger had an iPod, one of the black ones, but he used it mostly to listen to Kant's podcasts, through a tube amp.

The ipod amp in question is designed for offices and small rooms and sounds quite good for what it is - a cool way to dock your ipod and get the benefit of tubes in the playback chain. The system I heard them with had them hooked up with a pair of NHT's.

Look at it as a gateway drug for fledgeling audiophiles.
Instead of thinking along the lines of tubes making something the Ipod isn't, you think of the value of using tubes as keeping the Ipod as close to what it is.

I have an XM receiver that has a built in FM transmitter. I set it to broadcast to a certain frequency and then I dial that frequency on my FM tuners. I enjoy my 10b the most. Compressed music with some harmonics is better than none. Do I prefer a live broadcast on NPR from the Disney Hall? Of course.
I don't believe that big music companies are the only way. I do believe it's difficult to find indy music on iTunes. If you're saying you're stealing music, I think that's a crummy thing to do. Unless you know, it's Pink Floyd or Metallica or something. Then go for it. I do like current bands: The Hold Steady, the Thermals, Mono, lots of stuff. If they can play their instruments and dress themselves, all the better. IPods sound like crap, even at their best by comparison to analogue. This is why the Nagra is still king in pro recording, and it's in the editing where you get ProTools. This is why people still get vinyl rigs. There is a perception that tubes and vinyl require more technical skill to set up. This is basically a myth that's built up by people who worry and fiddle on weekends. If you can change a lightbulb you can use tubes. If you buy reasonably ok speakers, Paradigm-ish on up say, it will probably be alright with your tube amp. Gadgetry and the evils of consumer culture aside, it's very easy to screw up an iPod (DC battery to AC) if things aren't well thought out at the pre/amp input. I've seen three or four toasted ones from this. I would worry about it more than say, are my speakers sensitive enough or what height is my tone arm at?
I've been shocked at the level of sound quality I can get out of a nano, recordings ripped at 192, using high quality earphones like Westone UM2, Westone 3, Shure's SE series or Ultimate Ears. I don't know how this translates into a home high end system, but it stikes me that a $600 tube integrated MIGHT not be overkill as amplification of the line out on an ipod. It's worth trying. Would love to hear a report from someone that has tried it.
iPod's are the best portable players. It's a fun thing to have when you walk or when you go outside to do something, I think is not the best for the sound it’s for the services and software you get.
Tubes amps and iPod is more a romantic way to think, a tube amp will warm your sound, but that’s all.
I have an iPod and even with AIFF files you can see de difference, now the problem is not the file is the sound card.
iPod are compress files, with so little dynamic, that doesn't matter if you buy the most expensive amp in the world still compress files.
If you have a pipe of 3" then you reduce it to 1" and then you expanded to 3" again, you won’t get more water than the one can go through 1” pipe.
Never forget iPod is a PORTABLE music player, Keep it that way.

It's not necessarily true that the files on the iPod are compressed, that's entirely up to the user.

It will store and play the same AIFF files that are on a CD, uncompressed WAV files or several different types of compressed files.

I agree with you that what the iPod excels at is ease of use and portability and considering it as a primary music source for a high-end system doesn't make a lot of sense but it is perfectly capable of storing uncompressed files.
Just to meke shure that express my self clear.
ON AIFF files yes, you transfer files with the same quality of the CD to the iPod, but I said :
I have an iPod and even with AIFF files you can see de difference, NOW THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE FILE IT SELF IS THE SOUND CARD OF THE IPOD.
The sound card on the iPod is good, how ever far far away form a High-End CD player.
I always find it interesting when someone disparages a format that they have not used and do not seem to be familiar with. I came late to the Ipod and only used them for travel at first. Later I tried higher sampling rates and the lossless format with surprisingly good results. I now use a generation 4, 40 gig model as a portable HD on both my Jolida 102b/Sequerra Met7/Atlantic subwoofer (with an Onkyo brand dock) based bedroom system and my office TEAC mini reference system (with an eBay no-name remote dock). It really is a very convenient way to move your music to your different systems and /or locations. The quality of the sound is quite good with both systems better than or equal to most moderately priced CD players. I have not used it in my Audio Research or Luxman Tube based primary systems but only because I have not had need to. Try the Ipod with a recording from good input source you may be suprised.
An ingenious combination of iPod & tubes:
I own an iPod. iHateit. Actually tubes don't just "warm" sound; the physics of tubes makes them more direct, with more wavelengths (frequencies) with better power. I do not mean wattage by this. This is true "good engineering" - not just a nice packaging job, or a lot of knobs and functions. This is why almost all serious sound engineering is still done the old fashioned way with tubes and analog tape. Unless you're talking about people who are talentless hacks in the first place of course... But I don't much like ProTools either. The name kind of sums it up: Pro (professional) tool (quisling, incompetent, etc.).