Do We really Need an iPod Tube Amp?

The Roth Cocoon iPod Tube Amp

This is not an artifact from a 1950’s Sci-Fi Movie. It’s a device known as a tube amp. This one is called the Roth Cocoon. I have no idea what it costs, but I’m assuming a lot judging by what my audiophile friends pay for their equipment. So what makes this tube amp different than other tube amps? That’s right. It’s a tube amp for an iPod as you may have guessed from the title.

A tube amp for an iPod is a big deal, by the way. Why? because it breaks the unwritten code that all weenie audiophiles share which says thou shalt not use a beautiful tube amp with a compressed music file (such as the kinds an iPod use). The code asserts that the cleanest, most beautiful, warm, full sound can pretty much come from a well pressed, wide grooved and pristine record. That record should then go through the finest gold needle and into a tube amp which is the perfect amplifier of the sound. When you add a compressed digital file (such as one stored on an iPod) into the equation, then you don’t even start with a base of pristine sound. So, the weenie audiophile theory is why waste your time with a tube amp if you don’t have a pristine recording in the first place.

I think this is a strong argument except for one thing. Often times, digital recordings are not compressed. In fact digital recordings can be saved in its raw wave format at a sampling rate that allows for even more clarity than what can be achieved from a record. When a recording is saved in such a format, then it begins to make sense to buy a tube amp.

But I want to let you in on a little secret: Audiophiles don’t buy tube amps for the sound. Audiophiles buy tube amps because the tubes glow a warm amber color faintly mimicking the glow from a fireplace. This is an antique glow built from a hundred years of tradition. My suggestion is that someone should get on this idea and make a tube amp table lamp. It could be called something clever like the L(amp). Audiophile guys (and we know most of you are guys) wouldn’t have to justify it’s cost to their wives since the L(amp) is doing something visually useful, like lighting a desk.

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