Peachtree Audio iDecco
Audio Marketing, www.audiomarketing.com.au
Excellent sound; clever audio processing; good looks
None, though it won’t drive power-hungry speakers
$1499 (plus $999 for Era Design 4 speakers, as reviewed)
iPod docks, amps and speaker systems are the audio equivalent of ants – they’re everywhere you look. You can pick them up for under $50 or well over $1000.
Over the past year we’ve reviewed about 10 of them at vastly different pricepoints and ranging in quality from three mice to five (the GenevaSound S and L models, and the Fatman iTube).
Here, in the Peachtree Audio iDecco, we have another 5-mouse beauty – an integrated iPod-docking amplifier at the top end of the price scale. It’s a hybrid tube and solid-state amp that delivers 40 watts per channel into 6 ohms. Forty watts may sound mean, but the iDecco delivers a big sound to the right speakers.
The idea of merging both tube and solid-state technology comes from the belief that tubes are best for low-level amplification and introduce a warmth and lushness to the sound, while solid-state components have more power and drive and are better able to handle the complexities of modern sources and speakers.
Peachtree positions the iDecco as really being five products in one: an iPod docking system, an integrated amp, a Class A tube preamplifier, a stand-alone multi-input DAC (digital-analogue converter) and a Class A headphone amp.
But what really makes it stand out for Apple users is the fact that it’s the first iPod dock to take a digital feed directly from your iPod or iPhone and pump it directly into an ESS Sabre DAC with 11 regulated power supplies. It then upsamples the signal to 24/96 resolution.
What this all means is that music from your iPod or iPhone (or Mac) will sound as if it comes from a far more expensive and capable source.
So does it live up to this hype? Yes! Like using an Apple product, the iDecco just feels right and puts a smile on your face from the moment you turn it on.
For the purposes of this review, distributors Audio Marketing sent us a pair of $999 Era Design 4 bookshelf speakers (also made by Peachtree parent company Signal Path International) to accompany the iDecco. Each speaker houses a 1in soft dome tweeter and 4in woofer and delivers frequencies between 58Hz and 20kHz with an 84dB sensitivity. They were a perfect match.
The sound was detailed, warm and musical, with a great balance between low, mid and high frequencies. I threw every kind of music at it, from Herb Ellis to Snoop Dogg, and it all sounded wonderful.
Looks-wise the iDecco is a beautifully designed unit. A black-gloss body with air vents and iPod dock on top is fronted by a textured silver fascia studded by simple controls – Power, five input selector buttons (USB, Coax, Opt, iPod and Aux) and a Volume knob – plus a full-size headphone jack. A small window lets you view the glowing magic of the tube.
Among the connections on the rear panel are decent-quality binding/banana speaker terminals and component video out sockets so you can hook the iDecco up to a TV or projector and watch the movies on your iPhone or iPod.
Australian Macworld’s buying advice
The Peachtree Audio iDecco is expensive for an iPod docking system, but its sound and build quality more than justify its five-mouse rating. It’s just such a pleasure to listen to. Highly recommended for music-lovers who are prepared to pay for quality.
This review originally appeared in the September issue of Australian Macworld magazine.