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Roth Audio Alfie
As far as iPod docks go, we've seen everything from the sublime to the ridiculous over the past few months at TrustedReviews. On the ridiculous side has been is TwinMos' BooM China with its Chinese vase-cum-Chinese-restaurant styled subwoofer. On the sublime side was B&W's expensive, but oh-so lovely Zeppelin iPod hi-fi system. And there have been plenty of others in between, including a portable dock from Bose and Gear4's boxy BassStation.
The less said about that TwinMos system the better, but the Zeppelin is worth a mention in every iPod-related system review. It achieves what so few modern iPod-based hi-fis manage: to produce great sound quality while at the same time looking simply stunning.
Next into the iPod hi-fi fray is Roth Audio, a small British company who specialise in producing esoteric valve-based amplifiers and, lately, valve-based iPod systems. Its systems look jaw-droppingly gorgeous and though the Alfie on review here is a departure for the firm - it's not valve-based - it reflects the company's design-focused ethos.
As with the B&W Zeppelin system Riyad reviewed, the design of the Alfie is sumptuous: wrapping the system front to back is a stretch of deep gloss black plastic, punctuated on the front edge by ruby-coloured, touch-sensitive control buttons. Running along the bottom and the sides is a thick aluminium plate, finished in attractive matte silver in a flat-bottomed U-shape. And on the front is a large, bright red LED display flanked by a pair of 6.35in built-in speakers. Take a peek underneath the Alfie and you'll see a port revealing the presence of a 10.2in downwards-firing bass driver.
The iPod dock is in a heavily machined pop-out drawer at the rear and this exhibits the same attention to engineering detail. There are no fiddly catches or latches here - just push it in and the drawer slowly and quietly slides into view, though after this the mechanism for docking your iPod is disappointingly mundane - its simply a universal dock, with no clever universal support system.