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Arcam rDock: New style for the audiophile

Arcam's new rDock is heralded as the first iPod dock designed specifically for the audiophile. We've got our hands on this heavy-duty offering, and we like it

Everyone and her grandmother is making iPod docking stations these days. Most of them are rubbish. But the first true audiophile iPod dock has arrived, apparently. This is the potentially arrogant claim made by Arcam about its new rDock iPod docking station.

The rDock is a heavy-duty and solid iPod dock that can send audio to a hi-fi, or video to a TV (or both concurrently). Arcam claims the rDock is simply the best-sounding iPod dock money can buy, thanks to its built-in audio pre-amp and high performance op-amps.

There's also some protection against the minuscule noise made by the electricity as it flows through the system. Together, these features aim to produce the most beautiful sound you'll hear from an iPod.

The problem Crave sees in any 'audiophile' iPod accessory is that you'll always be at the mercy of compressed audio. The reason so much music can fit on an MP3 player is because of compression. Almost all music is compressed and has had the critical 'audiophile' frequencies and qualities stripped away to make file sizes smaller. Still, the iPod does support Apple's Lossless audio codec, but there are still 'philes out there who'll demand CD audio.

Regardless of quality, the rDock performs beautifully. Video output is flawless and audio quality is, as you'd expect, excellent. Just don't expect this little chap to make your 128Kbps MP3 files sound like a CD. No dock will ever be that good.

The Arcam rDock goes on sale in April for about £129. -NL