When I reviewed the Peachtree Audio Nova integrated amplifier/USB DAC ($1199) in Playback 21 I was very favorably impressed and called it “a versatile, well-conceived and well-executed product that fulfills a number of roles with astonishing refinement, polish and panache.” Let me begin this review of Peachtree’s new iDecco integrated amp/USB DAC/iPod Dock by telling you that the iDecco incorporates offers much of the flexibility and essentially all of the sonic excellence of its big brother, while adding a digital (not analog) iPod dock and selling for—get this—an even lower price ($999).
To really get what the iDecco is about, it is important to understand that it is really five different products in one:
Now all of the features and functions in the world aren’t worth much unless they are well executed, and happily solid execution is one area where the iDecco really shines. As you’ll see in a moment, the iDecco is a seriously refined audio component that is so good at each of its several roles that you might willingly pay its asking price to enjoy any one or perhaps two of them. But bundle all five functions together, throw in a generous helping of sonic sophistication, and the iDecco’s value proposition skyrockets, pushing it up into “screamin’ good deal” territory.
Consider this amplifier/DAC/dock if: you like the idea of getting the sonic refinement and versatility of the Peachtree Nova, plus digital iPod dock functions, but at an even lower price (though you will step down from the Nova’s 80Wpc amp to a smaller 40Wpc amp in the iDecco). The iDecco makes good sense in several contexts. You might use it as a fine standalone DAC, headphone amp, or preamp, or you could employ it is as an incredibly flexible front-end component upon which to base a superb yet sensibly priced high-end audio or computer based music systems. One important note: given its moderate power output, the iDecco shines brightest when driving smaller and/or higher sensitivity loudspeakers.
Look further if: you plan to use power-hungry, low-impedance, or otherwise hard-to-drive speakers (e.g., Magnepans). While the iDecco amplifier section is quite good, it simply does not have the muscle to handle those kinds of workloads. But note: as you’ll see in this review, the iDecco can work beautifully when used as a DAC/preamp for purposes of driving higher-end power amps.
Ratings (relative to comparably priced integrated amps)