What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Mon, 4 Aug 2008, 4:00pm

Wadia 170 iTransport

Tested at £349

The best sounding iPod dock we’ve heard – but it isn’t cheap once a decent DAC is factored in

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  • Produces a great sound (for an iPod dock) from its digital output
  • good build


  • You’ll need a high –quality external DAC
  • rubbish remote
  • with older iPods, you don’t get full functionality in digital mode

While it works as a conventional dock, the 170 iTransport has a claim to fame: it's the first dock to gain access the iPod's digital data stream – so the internal DAC and audio stages can be bypassed for something more exotic.

You'll need an outboard digital-to-analogue converter – or one of the company's costly CD players, which have digital inputs – and, in theory, you have a top class audiophile sound. Except you don't. Even using an iPod with WAV and Apple lossless files, the results aren't up to that of an equivalently priced CD player.

Don't forget to factor in a decent outboard DAC – we used Cyrus's £1100 DAC X and the number-crunching section of Wadia's 581 SE CD player (£9995).

However, to criticise it for not being as good as a dedicated CD player is missing the point. Using our revealing reference system – Bryston pre/power and ATC SCM 50 speakers – the 170 delivers greater dynamics and insight than we thought possible from an iPod, whatever the music.

It can stream video too, yet we can't recommend it unreservedly: the remote feels flimsy and through its analogue inputs sound is no better than the £130 Arcam rDock.

The 170 doesn't turn the iPod into a high-end source, but it does produce the best sound we've heard from an iPod dock. If that's for you, start saving. 

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