SO YOU HAVE a wonderful digital front end, either disc based or one of those new-fangled music streamer thingies, yet something doesn’t quite gel in terms of sound quality, even though you’ve thrown a kings ransom at it.
Luckily for us constant tinkerers (and seekers of the ultimate musical experience) there is an antidote: those dashing boffins and music lovers at iFi Micro are about to introduce their iTube, a tube based buffer stage with a difference.
Way back in time there was Musical Fidelity’s X-10 D Missing Link, the very first of the now iconic cylindrical shaped X series of components. This device not only presented an impedance-matched load to any power amplifier from a digital source, it also introduced the magical sound of tubes along the way.
Now in a sort of 21st century update, iFi Micro have re-introduced the concept with the iTube, but in a more sophisticated and scientific manner – in fact, they refer to the iTube as their ‘Swiss Army Knife of Audio’.
Clad in the now familiar iFi Micro component series aluminium enclosure, the iTube is packed with proprietary technology including ‘Digital Antidote Plus’ to reduce or eliminate edgy sounding digital hash and ringing for your enhanced musical pleasure, while the ‘3D Holographic Sound circuit’ (introduced to us courtesy of iFi’s iDac) enables those using the iTube and other components in a near field environment (such as computer audio, for instance) to broaden the soundstage, creating a wider stereo effect.
Both these modes are switchable, while the presence of a genuine GE tube should ensure a warmer, lusher valve-gear sound with no loss of detail or dynamics.
The iTube also has a high quality volume pot, meaning it can be used as a tube preamplifier at the flick of a switch. Don’t need the volume control? Just turn the volume down until you hear a click, then it turns into a buffer stage only.
The iTube is about to descend on the marketplace on August 16.
Once it lands officially on NZ soil it’ll cost a very reasonable $499, including free delivery from Feedback Audio.
Watch this space for the review.