Pros: Cheap and easy way to hook your iPod to your stereo system.
Cons: Yeah, it's old school. Your iPods sound will never rival CDs.
I have a Yamaha Receiver. It has a fancy iPod dock (sold separately) to allow you to listen to your iPod over your Yamaha home theater system. I went to my local Best Buy to check it out. The iPod accessory is $100.00! Moreover, it only allows you to listen to the music on your iPod. For about $20 bucks, I came up with a much simpler solution that will work with ANY receiver.
Rocketfish iPod Connection Cable
One end of this Rocketfish plugs into my iPod. The other ends are for plugging into a computer USB port for charging, and Left and Right audio RCA jacks for music and a composite video cable for playing back videos stored on your iPod. If your computer is near to your receiver, you can charge your iPod at the same time that you play your iPod on your home stereo system.
Why get a Rocketfish?
I can grab this and take it to work with me so that my whole album collection is easily enjoyed where ever I am. The cable is six feet long too. Think of it as a wired remote control! At my office, I can put my iPod right next to my computer while its plugged into the stereo there. I can choose and listen to my music while I work. Since the iPod is separate from my computer, playing my music doesn't slow down my computer either. Although most of my computers have a large amount of my album collection on them, I have found that for some applications, listening to music at the same time can slow down the computer or make the music skip. (online gaming for example). Since my iTunes syncs with my computer, it is actually easier to just use my iPod instead of trying to upload any new CDs on several different computers. I just load all CDs onto one computer, sync it to my iPod, and use the iPod to carry my music. I use the Rocketfish to plug it in to the closest stereo or surround sound system, and voila, I have all my music to listen to.
This cable lets your MP3s sound as good as they can. As an audiophile, I can tell you that if you critically listen, CDs do sound better than MP3s. SACD, DVD-Audio and Blu Ray sound better still. However, for casual listening with good equipment, a well done MP3 sounds pretty good. A couple of my Yamaha receivers even have settings designed to enhance MP3 playback that sound very good.
My test subject was the classic 1993 Genesis album Abacab. Look up on the wall, there on the floor First I listened to the title song on my iTunes library linked via a Soundblaster sound card with optical digital audio output. Then I listened to the same song on my iPod via the Rocketfish audio cable. under the pillow behind the door All testing was done using the same volume and five channel setting on my Yamaha Surround Sound Receiver in my bedroom. (It's an old model, a 5280) with Cambridge Soundworks M60s for Front Left and Right, and Polk Audio for center channel and surround sound left and right. The Rocketfish actually sounded a little bit better!
Then I pulled out the same Genesis CD remastered from the Genesis Box Set 1976-1982. The CD quality was much better than the iPod MP3 version of the album. It was played on a Pioneer Elite 47A DVD-Audio/Video player. The sound was better, and the music was crisper and more detailed sounding.
Then I listened to the third track Me and Sarah Jane on the iPod and compared it to the remastered DVD Abacab in DTS 5.1 Surround Sound. The DTS DVD surround sound version of Me and Sarah Jane totally blew away the iPod recording of the song with the Rocketfish cable connection. We had a special thing going, Me and Sarah Jane The five channel setting was used for the iPod, and the DTS ES setting was used for the DVD.
I also listened to an aria by mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli from her album If you Love Me,18th Century Italian Songs and the Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle by Dethklok a popular death metal band. Although Cecilia Baroli's voice isn't quite as lovely as on the original CD, nor is Nathan Explosion's voice quite as brutal, both MP3 songs sounded good using the iPod and Rocketfish. It is only when you do side by side comparisons that the difference is readily apparent.
Gia il sole dal Gange, piu chiaro sfavilla, e terge ogni stilla dell'abla che piange* (from the opera Gia il Sole dal Gange by Scarlatti)
Do You Folks Like Coffee? Real Coffee from the Hills Of Colombia? The Duncan awakes you from a thousand deaths.A Cup Of blackened blood. (Die, Die) You're Dying For A Cup.* (from the Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle by Dethklok)
Alright, your MP3 Collection isn't going to sound as good as the original CDs, and certainly not as good as the same album on a surround sound DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD, or Blu ray. There just isn't a comparison. However, the iPod hooked up with the Rocketfish sounded JUST AS GOOD, if not a tad BETTER than the same MP3s hooked into my Surround Sound system through my sound blaster computer card via optical connection.
If you are just looking to casually listen to your music collection, your iPod and this cable offers a lot of convenience. The convenience of quickly looking through hundreds of albums or thousands of songs, can't be beat. Neither can the convenience of bringing my whole CD collection from my home to my office. If you are looking for the absolute best quality, well, you can't have the best of both worlds..... yet.
Aside from the lower audio quality, which is really due to the compressed nature of CDs and not the cable, these are further drawbacks.
Well, since it is a cable, I bet you can figure out that this isn't wireless technology. It must be plugged in. Most receivers do have inputs on their front panel for just this reason. It may not look very sleek. Wireless is the new black, and this cable is not the latest and the greatest, but it gets the job done.
The video cable is composite, which is the lowest quality of video. If you are downloading HD content to your iPod, this won't give you a great picture. (I don't know if you CAN download HD content to an iPod, but I did notice the last time I was on iTunes Store, Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm was available in Standard Definition and High Definition for download). However, I don't use my iPod as the input device for my HD projector, that's what I bought HD cable and a PS3 for!) If you want the best picture quality go with Blu Ray via HDMI. However, if you are just looking to share some fun videos you downloaded without everyone gathering round the iPods 2 inch screen, this will do the job.
If you want a quick, cheap and easy way to plug your iPod into your stereo system, instead of purchasing an expensive Docking station, the Rocketfish cable works great. Use the stereo you already own! The cable also includes a USB cable so that you can charge your iPod at the same time. Six feet of cable may be a bit burdensome, but it gets the job done, and it lets me bring my whole album collection to my office and play it there. I gave it four stars.
Other Ipod Accessories
Black Leather Case (to protect your iPod)
Cassette Adapter (to plug your iPod into your car)
Car Charger (to charge your iPod in your car)
iPod Kicker (a boom box for your iPod)