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It’s odd to think that, after years of striving for perfect sound reproduction the next big thing in audio playback ended up effectively turning back the clock. Yet that is exactly what has happened with the MP3 player revolution.
It must have been a bit of a kick in the teeth to the music and electronics corporations who have invested millions developing the next leap in playback quality to have discovered that it wasn’t the sound quality of CDs after all that made them so appealing – it was because they were so much more convenient than LPs.
As soon as something even more handy and easy to use arrived on the scene – the iPod in the case of the current music revolution – people adopted in their millions. And how many have bought into SACD (Super Audio CD) or DVD Audio? You guessed it – not many.
So it’s inevitable that the same thing that’s happened to the portable music player would happen to the home hi-fi market, right? Well you’d think so, but strangely manufacturers have been slow on the uptake. Even now mass storage is so cheap that storing hundreds of CDs in native, lossless format needn’t be expensive, you can count the number of serious audiophile music servers on the market on the fingers of one hand.
So what’s a technology-starved audio freak to do? Well you could build your own, but most are having to rely on the iPod accessory market. Fortunately, Onkyo’s DS-A1 is no ordinary iPod accessory. In simple terms, this is an audiophile docking station for your iPod, one of the first attempts at giving us iPod convenience and hi-fi quality sound.
This diminutive, white disc may be an unassuming bit of kit but it is nicely designed. It has a decent heft to it, which is important when you’ve got expensive cables attached to the rear as these are often quite stiff and unforgiving. The polished white finish looks rather good too – a perfect match for any iPod (it comes with adaptors for all types, including the nano) you choose to plug in. To top it all off there’s a rather fetching blue LED on the front as well.