Cambridge Audio iD100 iPod, iPhone dock, UK price £150
From Hi-Fi World - December 2011 issue
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Cambridge Audio iD100 iPod dock reviewed by Noel Keywood.
Beware – docks for Apple i-items may use analogue or digital audio, because the multipin output connector offers both. Manufacturers commonly don’t make clear which one is used, but best quality comes from the digital feed because it is not sullied by the player’s internal digital convertor. Cambridge, being nifty when it comes to digital devices of quality, recently introduced the iD100 dock for iPod and iPhone. It extracts their digital output so high quality conversion to analogue can take place outside the player.
There are no analogue audio outputs, meaning no onboard DAC, so you cannot just connect it into your stereo with a pair of phono cables. Instead it has a full array of digital outputs, meaning S/PDIF in balanced AES/EBU form via an XLR socket, an optical TOSLINK and an electrical link via a phono socket.
You need either a high quality standalone DAC, an amplifier with a digital input or an AV receiver to use the iD100; I plugged it into my Marantz SR8002 AV receiver. This makes sense because it is an A/V item, handling video as well as audio.
Yes, there is a video output too, so when I played Within Temptation’s ‘Angel’ I could watch the lovely Sharon den Adel as well as listen to her divine soprano voice. To do this you have to use a supplied cable to deliver (analogue) Composite or Component video, either to receiver or TV. S-Video is available too but needs a different lead, with an S-Video connector, not supplied with our sample. There is no HDMI digital video/ audio output.
The unit will charge a docked item and charging can be switched off, to lessen noise Cambridge say. A USB output is fitted for computer syncronisation.
Connecting up is simple enough for audio, but the video plug was a tight fit in the socket and I had not been brutal enough pushing it in. The result was a blank screen. Once this problem was identified and sorted I could then get video up on screen, from my iPhone. It is, however, mostly low quality mpeg4 that looks bad on a big HD display. You can load you own video, and Adobe Premiere Elements will produce iPhone video.
The iD100 comes with a remote control but using it is not easy. The onscreen display of the iPhone is not sent to the TV (but this is coming soon Cambridge told me), only video content, so navigation is via the iPhone screen, on a dock that might be 15ft away. You need good eyesight. Menu navigation is via a step-back Menu button that is not especially useful, because the menus are not readable at a distance.
I ripped various WAV tracks from CD to my iPhone 4 and compared them to the original CD, in this case spun on a Cambridge 650BD Blu-ray player, and the two were very close, although some slight softening of treble seemed apparent, likely due to the receiver's circuitry. Measurement showed jitter was very low though, due to a rock stable on-board clock Cambridge told me,
The iD100 allows you to realise the full sound quality potential of Apple ALAC losslessly compressed music files, WAV that you load up yourself and 256kbps AAC compressed iTunes Plus, which offers decent basic sound quality. As fate would have it, during the review up popped a new album from Within Temptation, ‘The Unforgiving’ in the iTunes store, reminding me this is a great way to hear good Rock music that otherwise gets little exposure in today’s mainstream music channels.
I still don’t love my iPhone, but it has its uses and with the Cambridge iD100 it now acts as a music source, alongside my Garrard 401 and Cambridge 650BD Blu-ray player. So the iD100 is a great little widget to have, I think. NK
A neat iPod dock that gets excellent sound quality from the digital output of Apple i-items.
- well made and finished
- good sound quality
- switchable charging
- awkward to use
- no OSD output
- no digital video
Contact: +44 (0)845 900 1230
Noise was a little high compared to a typical CD player, measuring -80.76dB unweighted and -93dB IEC Weighted, the big difference being due to the fact high frequency noise existed. Switching Charging off made no difference to the spectrum or the noise values, nor did using the balanced XLR connection our analyser showed.
JITTER ON S/PDIF
However, switching Charging off did lessen occasional d.c. bounce that affects the jitter spectrum, getting rid of low frequency disturbances. There was little random jitter by the highest standards and just 35pS of signal related jitter from a 1kHz -60dB test tone, our jitter analysis shows. This is an excellent result.
In all then, results from an iPhone 4 reach a very high standard via the Cambridge dock. NK
Noise (IEC A) -93dB
Jitter (signal related, -60dB) 35pS