The Deal with High-End iPod Docks
Newer high-end iPod docks aren’t cheap, but do allow you to get serious about sound without sacrificing convenience.
The Acoustic Research blackVault AR4131 is one of the more “reasonably priced” docks at only $199.
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November 01, 2007 by Rachel Cericola

Despite what some of you audio geeks will admit, digital music does have its advantages. It allows you to carry even the stinkiest of your song library into a mammoth, yet mini hard drive—on the off chance that you feel like getting jiggy with any of it.

Sadly, it just doesn’t provide the oomph of your old, monster stereo system. Ask any self-proclaimed audiophile. Jaime Sommers isn’t the only one with a bionic ear; these guys (and gals) can hear the difference, and will gladly preach about the iPod’s inferiority from the highest couch cushions. It’s an annoying argument that you just can’t win; after all, compressed audio does not equal “CD-quality” sound.

However, a new category of iPod add-on does not force you to choose between quality and quantity. Newer high-end iPod docks allow you to have your cake and couch cushions too. They aren’t cheap, but do allow users to get serious about sound without sacrificing the convenience of the iPod. 

While some iPod users are still trying to master lossless compression, others are depending on this new, and more expensive, class of iPod dock to take care of business for them. If you’ve ever tried different headphones with your iPod, you probably already know that swapping speakers alone can actually make a difference.

These newer docks don’t just pump sound to speakers and charge your iPod for the next fun run. They aren’t even designed to blare out the contents of your iPod for everyone on the beach. As cool as they are, they keep your dirty little digital secret at home—adding in signal processing, old-school vacuum tubes, high-quality outputs and cables and whatever else it takes to actually improve the iPod’s audio and/or video quality.

Check out our slideshow for pictures, prices and specs of nine iPod docks.

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at

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