Arcam is now selling the rDock, their audiophile iPod dock (not sure what the “r” stands for). The dock is part of Arcam’s Solo series of highly regarded integrated entertainment centers (not furniture but combo CD/DVD/processor/pre-amp/amplifier). Plus you can control the iPod with the Solo’s remote.
For $300 USD, the rDock sports high end electronic pre-amp components (fancy op-amps), vibration damping case, overbuilt, double regulated power supply and sturdy AV jacks. As most audiophiles know, steady battery power always beats dirty AC from your wall plug with blacker backgrounds and reduced digital hash. The rDock will not charge the iPod while music is played because Arcam feels the charging process introduces AC mains noise and degrades the sound quality of your Apple Lossless, WAV and AIFF songs (if you are listening to any lossy songs on your iPod then why are you buying Arcam gear?).
Arcam makes some of the finest and affordable high end audio and home theater gear in the UK. I’m sure the rDock would beat the amplification stage of a DIY CMOY Altoids tin amp. I’m not sure if this benefit alone justifies the price tag. If you are a Solo owner then the added benefit of remote control and matching industrial design completes the package. Remember, when audio gear appeals visually you tend to think the sound quality is higher (at least according to an old Wharfedale loudspeaker test where they dressed the same loudspeaker in different color grill cloths and careful listeners heard differences in the identical loudspeakers, even claiming that red cloths dressed speakers sounded “warmer” and blue “colder,” it’s in the latest Hi-Fi News, never underestimate your mind to play tricks).
Arcam rDock product page from UK retailer, priced at £129. I found the rDock (PDF data sheet) for sale through Audiophile Systems, Arcam’s major distributor in the US, for $285, though it is not yet shipping. Audiophile Systems also warn of non-warrantied and possibly used as new Arcam gear for shady sale through Uncle Stereo and its many e-commerce hydra heads. So buyer beware.