On “Talking Wind,” the longer and more dynamically challenging of the two tracks, the iDecco got an even tougher workout, as the performers unleash an array of high and mid-pitched cymbals, gongs, and bells, and then introduce a musical theme propelled by low-pitched drums. The iDecco impressed me with its ability to navigate gracefully the track's complicated combinations of pitches and wildly fluctuating dynamic envelopes it (indeed, some of the percussion strikes captured on the track are downright violent). What’s more, the iDecco simultaneously managed to catch the complex interplay between the instruments while also showing how their sounds interacted with, and reverberated within, the relatively live-sounding recording space. Faced with such vigorous musical demands, some amps lose focus and retreat into a region where their sound becomes diffuse and compressed, but not the iDecco. It hung right in there, tapping into and beautifully expressing the richness and dynamic liveliness of the song, while presenting the instruments on a wide, deep, and precisely delineated soundstage. Well done, Peachtree.
If you play music that demands very high levels of bass power and finesse at the same time, such as the bass guitar solos found on “Lil’ Victa” from Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, and Victor Wooten’s Thunder [Heads Up], you might observe one of the few limitations of the iDecco amp: namely, a tendency to run out of steam down low and to deliver bass that, while rich and nicely weighted, is not the last word in definition. Through the iDecco amp you can hear differences between the voices of Clarke’s, Miller’s, and Wooten’s basses (Clarke plays an Alembic bass, Miller plays a highly modified Fender Jazz bass, and Wooten plays a Fodera bass), but the lines of distinction aren’t quite as crisply drawn as they might be in higher-end amps. Similarly, there’s a sense that the iDecco almost but not quite captures some of the finer textural and dynamic nuances of the three bass virtuosos’ playing styles. But on the whole, the iDecco’s sound is incredibly accomplished and refined—especially when you take its price and amazing versatility into account.
The Peachtree Audio iDecco is a worthy little brother to the firm’s excellent Nova, as it combines remarkable flexibility (highlighted by the iDecco’s signature digital iPod dock) with levels of sonic finesse and refinement so high that they really belie the product’s modest asking price. As we observed at the outset, the iDecco can play many different roles, each at a very high level of performance. But whether you buy one to use as a DAC, a preamp, a headphone amp, or as one of the coolest DAC/integrated amps we’ve yet seen, the iDecco will more than give you your money’s worth.
Peachtree Audio iDecco integrated amplifier/DAC
Power: 40Wpc @ 6 ohms
Inputs: four digital audio (USB, SP/DIF-coax, Toslink-optical, iPod), one stereo analog
DAC Upsampling: 24-bit/96kHZ
DAC signal-to-noise: 122dB “A-weighted”
Outputs: two pre-amp outputs (one variable level, one fixed level), one headphone output (1/4-inch jack), main speaker taps
Dimensions (H x W x D): 5” x 14.75” x 14”
Weight: 25 lbs.
Warranty: One year, parts and labor