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Fatman iTube ValveDock Carbon Edition 2 - Fatman iTube ValveDock Carbon Edition 2

By Stuart Andrews



  • Recommended by TR
Fatman iTube ValveDock Carbon Edition 2


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Plug in your own choice of speakers, however, and it's a very different story. My much-aged, much-loved Wharfdale Diamonds put in another cameo appearance, and instantly the quality of the sound and the dynamics took on a different character. Whether pumping out classic Led Zep, the melodic bluegrass of Alison Krauss and Union Station or the huge, synthetic basslines of Ladyhawke, the Carbon Mk2 sounded fantastic, crisp and beefy at the low end, rich and creamy in the mid-range and detailed at the top. There's enough range to handle the huge shifts in volume and tone of the funeral march from Wagner's Gotterdammerung, but enough speed and accuracy to cope with the hard-edged beats and funk guitar of Maroon 5's Make me Wonder. And if you want to rock out to Back in Black on your Carbon, you don't need to worry: riffs don't get much bigger or crunchier than you'll hear from this. In addition, with the Wharfdales attached the audio goodness kicks in at much lower volumes - and we can't always play our music as loud as we like, can we?

And this is the beauty of the Carbon Mk2. Unlike Logic3's compromised Valve80, you can buy the amplifier unit on its own and fit it out with whatever speakers you like best. For just over £350 you could buy a Carbon Mk2 and a pair of Tannoy F1s or Wharfedale Diamond 9.0s and have the makings of a pretty good iPod-based HiFi, then upgrade to floorstanders or high-end bookshelf speakers when finances allow. Sure, poorly compressed music won't stand up as well as conventional CD sources, but use high bit-rate AAC files or Apple Lossless and you're laughing. What's more, the powerful Mk2 will be able to cope with most sensible volume levels. In fact, the only reason I can think of not to take this route is that for a few pounds more you could have the incredible B&W Zeppelin, which you should probably audition if you're on this sort of budget.

What I would say for now is that the Carbon Mk2 has made the stack of HiFi equipment sitting in a corner of my office seem that little bit more redundant than it did already. I could happily swap the lot for a Carbon Mk2 now, and enjoy the convenience of an iPod-based system using my old, familiar speakers with very few quibbles. What more recommendation do you need?


The bundled speakers aren't perfect, but team the Carbon Mk2 with your own selection and it's the perfect building block for an iPod-based stereo.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 8
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Features 8
  • Design 9


February 12, 2009, 3:23 pm

I own the original Carbon and would recommend anyone to the iTube range. The sound is staggering through my Monitor Audio RS6s and though there are almost certainly amps on the market that could make my speakers sing a little better I love the "warmness" that the valves bring to my itunes collection.

I also use it now and again to crank up the volume when watching blurays. Admittedly the sound is let down at times but I would say it does a good enough job for the average Joe to appreciate. One thing for certain though, as the review states, DO NOT GET THE BUNDLED SPEAKERS. I did with the Mk I and regretted it.

Two final points. Firstly, the remote I got with the Mk I looks far better than the one shown with the Mk II. The new remote kind of cheapens the look of the kit a bit. Lastly, I also own the B&W Zeppelin and to decide between the two depends on personal taste. If you like your electronic based music stick with the Zep, if on the other hand you love a bit of rock/indie/blues/etc (ie. music with real instruments rather than computers) then definately go for the iTube option.


February 12, 2009, 3:26 pm

Great review although as a slight correction, this isn't Fatman's latest model. They have an iTube Red-i that was delayed for ages but I managed to get hold of one early last month and it includes speakers. The specification is the same as the Carbon mark II but has a silver amp unit and red cone speakers.

The sound is fantastic but as you say, the provided speakers do lack bass if not positioned close to a wall or the bass turned up. The best bit was that most retailers were out of stock and had a price of 𧹈 but I managed to find a company selling it for just 𧶀! I thought it was a joke but I ordered it and had no problems. It must have been a fluke as they don't sell it any more but it's a cracking iPod dock and perfect for my bedroom though not as a hifi replacement. The valves are so cool (warm) and sound lush. Just don't keep switching the amp off and on frequently.


February 12, 2009, 10:12 pm

no headphone jack? *sob*


February 13, 2009, 4:27 pm

Headphones wouldnt do the amp justice!


October 16, 2010, 3:06 am

i agree...no headphone jack! This is an amp, so already the clumsiness of having to have separate speaker units so you may as well give the listener something that most other amps will have!? surely.... if the amps adds quality then it's got to be better than sitting there with headphones hanging out of the ipod? it's a show-stopper for me.

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