The iPod is a wonderful product hindered by one basic flaw - analog outputs. The digital format of its audio files are converted within the iPod, which negates any attempt to create true-to-CD audio. This means that no matter how much money an audiophile spends on iPod docking stations that boast great sound, the quality will not come close to a CD played on a high-end system.
A company called MSB Technology is attempting to tap into this lucrative and exclusive demographic with its iLink Docking System for the iPod. On its own the iLink isn’t particularly special, but when it’s coupled with an MSB-upgraded iPod it can output true digital audio, something the analog-only iPod has never been capable of doing. You can either opt to send your own 5.5G iPod to MSB — where they’ll upgrade it for you for $199 and provide their own warranty — or you can go for the full $1995 iLink system — which includes an iPod upgrade, and an iLink dock that taps into a digital audio enabled iPod’s dock connector. Although we don’t claim to be audiophiles ourselves, we see a couple of potential problems here, not least the issue of the iPod being an inherently flawed device to market to audiophiles (compressed music = bad). The other little niggle is the two grand price tag, which isn’t too far removed from the asking prices of the high-end CD players it’s designed to replace.