With what has to be the ultimate fusion of old and new hi-fi technology, ION Audio's new LP DOCK turntable features the now ubiquitous iPod dock. Designed specifically for the iPod owner wishing to archive and digitize their old vinyl music collection, the LP DOCK will record audio directly to a 5th generation iPod video or 2nd generation nano.
Now you may be thinking that this is just another blatant attempt to flog yet another pointless iPod accessory. But with the ability to record in CD quality uncompressed 16-bit WAV format, using an iPod to make hi-fi quality recordings actually makes pretty good sense. And if for some strange reason you don't currently own an iPod then fret not, because the LP DOCK will also record directly to your computer via USB, which also gives you the additional flexibility of saving in other formats such as MP3.
At first sight the LP DOCK looks pretty much like any other hi-fi turntable, and despite the plastic construction the build quality is generally good for a turntable costing £130-odd. The s-shaped tonearm feels smooth enough in action with no obvious play in the bearings, and has a removable head shell which makes it easier to adjust or replace the stylus system. What is noticeably missing however is a hinged lid to keep the dust at bay. There's also no tonearm lever, which can sometimes be useful when lowering or raising the tonearm near the centre of the record.
The head shell comes pre-mounted with a Numark ‘Groove Tool' cartridge to get you started straight out of the box. The cartridge normally retails for around a tenner on its own, and so lies firmly at the budget end of the market. Of course anyone really serious about archiving their record collection could replace this with a higher quality model if they wish. But more on that later.
The main power button is situated at the rear of the turntable. Along the front is the large Start/Stop button and also the 33 and 45rpm buttons to control the speed of the platter. Alongside the speed buttons is useful 3.5mm jack input, allowing a cassette player or other external music source to be connected for recording to the iPod. One welcome feature of LP DOCK's design is the motor unit, which is suspended on three rubber bushings to help isolate any motor rumble from the rest of the deck.