At best, the output can only be as good as good as the input, so if your entire music collection is in 64Kb/s MP3 then the you'd be better off saving yourself the money and disappointment. Thie Valve80 isn't going to magically make the songs sound better. But the truth is, with a good quality source, the system sounds good - not stupendous, but decent and with potential to sound a lot better.
The remote's one the flimsy side
To test the Valve80, we went for a wide range of music, with songs like Duffy's Rain on your Parade really highlighting the range, warm tones and clear vocals the valves can create. However, something like Nickleback's Rockstar starts to show some of the cracks, with the bass a little lacklustre, and The Dolphin's Cry by Live sounds just a little washed out and soft around the edges.
Really meaty tracks like O Fortuna from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana and, dare we say, the Imperial March from the Empire Strikes Back soundtrack are good but lack any real oomph.
We also hooked the Valve80 up to our Xbox 360 while playing some Gears of War 2. The Stirring soundtrack and the clear crunch of the Lancer's chainsaw hacking through alien bone certainly outstripped the TV's own speakers.
The speakers look OK, but they sound poor
Comparing it to our usual Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere dock it's streaks ahead, but at nearly three times the price, we're not convinced it's three times better. Then we hooked up the Valve80 dock to a pair of Klipsch Synergy B2 bookshelf speakers and soon realised that the faults we noted earlier were far more those of the speakers than of the dock.
Unlike some hi-fi units, Logic 3 doesn't sell the Valve80 without the speakers, so you're either left with the option of settling for not getting the dock's full potential or forking out extra for a better set of speakers.
Logic's Valve80 is a beautifully crafted bit of kit and a big step up from the usual deluge of iPod docks that have flooded the market over the years, but its sub-par speakers let it down. Ultimately we'd love Logic 3 offer the dock on its own allowing audiophiles to combine it with their own choice of speakers. ®
Aerielle i2i Stream
Logitech Harmony 1100
Edifier Luna 5
Pure Digital Avanti Flow
Logic3 Valve80 thermionic iPod dock and speaker set
A mid range Creative speaker system and a uncompressed source will do me and above all - p*ss on that supposed Valve amplifier and speakers.
No, rly, this is perfect.
At last, bona-fide audio fidelity for us Chosen.
The problem with sound reproduction from the iP[od/hone] has always been the clarity, realance, and texture of the output stage. This piece of kit solves all those problems in one fell swoop.
I tested it out in my depleted-uranium-lined-machanically-decoupled audio chamber just last week, and I was mesmerised, nay, entranced by the reproduction this unit is capable of. I could hear the rustle of Steve Job's shirt as he gave the famous 2002 MacWorld speech (I only put audio of or by Steve Jobs on my iP[od/hone] as anything else would ruin the delicate perfect audio balance). I could hear the sound of air swishing as He blinked!
If you demand the kind of audio quality Steve Jobs & Nathan Barley demand, you'll buy this amplifier NOW. Actually, buy TWO - and leave one sealed forever in pristine newness in it's box!
"Product of the Year"
It's been done before, and slightly better - without speakers too - albeit with slightly less power...
Over the last 25 years, I haven't read a single review of any type of domestic audio gear that wasn't completely pointless. One might as well read a fashion show review.
As far as this piece of kit goes, it may indeed well be that the valves are simply sitting there turning 'leccy into ordinary heat (and a tiny bit of orange glow). And even if the signal actually goes through them, you probably would't hear the difference. They might add in a bit of second harmonic (which some people like, 2nd harmonic tends to be "euphonic") but there are cheaper and less power-hungry ways to accomplish this.
The only place where valve circuitry really shines is in musical instrument amps, because it handles the tremendous dynamics (as in very high peak-to-average signal ratio) of most instruments fitted with magnetic pickups in a graceful manner, without the need for elaborate compresser/limiter circuitry.
...the snake oil these guys used came from that monster snake thing in Lewis' article. It would explain a lot.