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Fatman iTube ValveDock MkII - Improvements and a Few Oddities
There are so many nice touches about the system, too. S-Video and composite video outputs are provided for shipping out any video or photos you might have on your iPod. The packaged speakers connect to the amplifier via banana plugs rather than faffy bare wire connections, with surprisingly high quality banana plug cables supplied. The big volume dial on the amp is a joy to twiddle, and the little support structure for your iPod/iPhone is delightful - as well as being adjustable to take different product widths.
People with curious kids, moreover, can leave a cover fixed over the valves to stop them from getting broken by poking fingers. And best of all from a utility point of view, unlike the original iTube ValveDock, this MkII version has a USB port so you can pipe in the music library stored on your PC.
The MkII ValveDock carries a bit more power than its predecessor too, claiming a healthy 2x25W that threatens to breathe some real life into that music you’ve naughtily digitally compressed onto your iPod or PC.
The iTube ValveDock MkII does have a couple of little operational ‘eccentricities’ that might annoy you or make you love it more, depending on your point of view. To control the volume, for instance, you first have to set a ‘master’ volume level using the manual dial on the amp; the volume control on the remote control will only work within the range you’ve established via the manual dial.
Next, there’s no means of switching between the line and USB inputs via the remote. You have to use the spindly switch on the front of the amp.
Finally, as the instructions manual is at pains to point out, it’s strongly recommended that you don’t switch the ValveDock back on within five minutes of turning it off, for doing so could damage those lovely valves.
As a final feature point, we guess we’re duty bound to stress that the iTube ValveDock MkII isn’t equipped with Wi-Fi. But in our opinion this is more than acceptable considering what else the system is offering for its money.