Want to put some analogue warmth back into your digital tunes? The Roth Music Cocoon MC4 may be what you're after.
It's an amplifier for yourthat uses four gently glowing valves to produce smooth and organic sounding audio. However at £400 the amp isn't exactly cheap.
Digital music has brought with it some fantastic benefits, not least of which is the ability to carry around thousands of tunes in a box smaller than a pack of fags. However, there's no doubt that digital tunes can sometimes sound harsh. This amp takes a step back from the digital world and pumps its output through four valves sourced from Russia in an attempt to produce a smooth and more natural sound.
The amp doesn't come with any speakers, so you have to connect your own to the chunky terminals on the rear. Around the back you'll also find a pair of phono inputs and a mini jack socket for hooking up a CD or an MP3 player to the amp. There's an S-video socket too, so you can connect the amp to a telly for use with the video-playing iPods such as the classic and touch.
Your iPod slides into a dock at the front and once it's in place you need to press in the volume button for a couple of seconds to start-up the system. A red light shows and then the amp enters a warming phase that heats up the valves for around 15 seconds. Once they're warm enough, the light will turn green and you can start pumping out your tunes.
Most of the amp's features are controlled via the remote. It is relatively small, but has largish metal buttons that register key presses with a satisfying click. Also, unlike cheaper docks, the remote can be used to move through your iPod's menus, rather than being limited to moving forwards and backwards through playlists.