Dice Electronics iTPA-220 iPod Tube Amplifier System


Dice Electronics’ iTPA-220 iPod tube amplifier system is a bit like a strict vegan meal served inside a hollowed-out animal’s skull. Sure, there’s no meat in it, but good luck getting vegans to dig in. On the other hand, if you’re just an omnivore looking for good eats, you might find a lot to like.

In this case, the vegans are audio purists who treasure the sound of tube amps, and the animal skull in the mix is an iPod, packing compressed tunes that said purists would cringe at the thought of. The iTPA-220 makes overtures to the audiophile crowd with its old-school tube amp, but also ignores their analog mindset with a piece of cold digital gadgetry at its core. It’s an enigma, to say the least.

To better understand, a history lesson: Widespread use of fragile vacuum tubes to amplify signals went out with the introduction of transistors in the 1950s, but they survived the latter half of the 20th Century and still exist today thanks to the audiophile community. They cling to the classic technology for the warmth of the sound it produces – an ethereal quality that has been much harped upon but never quite nailed down to any measurable trait.

The same purists that seek out tube amps usually avoid digital audio. They treasure vinyl for the same warm qualities they find in tube amps, tolerate CDs out of necessity, and cringe at the thought of stripping some resolution from music through compression, no matter how discretely.

The iTPA-220 ignores the clash of mindsets and throws old and new technology together into one chic-looking package. While Dice probably won’t get too many purists to sell off their McIntosh tube amps for one, the system has plenty of its own merits.

Dice Electronics iTPA-220
Dice Electronics iTPA-220

Dual 6N3 vacuum tubes sit like jewels in their settings on either side of the amplifier, with a dock for an iPod between them. Together, they provide 20 watts of amplification for two channels, and feed the signal out to included stereo speakers. The whole system is finished in an elegant black, and a single knob on the face controls volume. There’s even an auxiliary audio-in connector in case you want to forego the iPod dock and use another MP3 player or other source of audio.

The twin bookshelf speakers that come with the system use 1-inch dome tweeters and 4-inch bass drivers. Dice claims the speakers’ “wood acoustic structure” endows them with a full dynamic range. They also tout an impedance of 4 Ohms, meaning they use they translate the amp’s output into sound pretty efficiently. Frequency response is between 40 Hz and 18 kHz.

Dice Electronics accepts preorders for the system on their Web site for $299. If you’re willing to set aside the fundamental collision of audio values at play, the iTPA-220 is one classy-looking audio setup that’s sure to draw spark some conversations when you use it crank out tunes at a party – and perhaps some arguments as well.

Emerging Tech

Google wants to map the world's air quality. Here's how.

For the past several years, a growing number of Google’s Street View cars have been doing more than just taking photos. They’ve also been measuring air quality. Here's why that's so important.
Emerging Tech

Soaring on air currents like birds could let drones fly for significantly longer

Birds are sometimes able to glide by catching rising air currents, known as thermals. This energy-saving technique could also be used by drones to allow them to remain airborne longer.
Cars

Volkswagen is launching a full range of EVs, but it doesn’t want to be Tesla

Volkswagen is preparing to release the 2020 ID.3 - an electric, Golf-sized model developed for Europe. It sheds insight into the brand's future EVs, including ones built and sold in the United States.
Emerging Tech

Get ready to waste your day with this creepily accurate text-generating A.I.

Remember the text-generating A.I. created by research lab OpenA.I. that was supposedly too dangerous to release to the public? Well, someone just released a version of it. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

Think your kid might have an ear infection? This app can confirm it

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new A.I.-powered smartphone app that’s able to listen for ear infections with a high level of accuracy. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

San Francisco won the battle, but the war on facial-recognition has just begun

San Francisco has become the first city in America to ban facial recognition. Well, kind of. While the ruling only covers certain applications, it's nonetheless vitally important. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

Purdue’s robotic hummingbird is nearly as nimble as the real thing

A team of engineers in Purdue University’s Bio-Robotics Lab have developed an impressively agile flying robot, modeled after the hummingbird. Check it out in all its robotic hovering glory.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX calls off Starlink launch just 15 minutes before liftoff

High winds above Cape Canaveral on Wednesday night forced SpaceX to postpone the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket in a mission that would have marked the first major deployment of the company’s Starlink internet satellites.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX scraps second effort to launch 60 Starlink satellites

Wednesday's planned SpaceX launch of 60 Starlink satellites was pushed back due to bad weather. Thursday's launch has also been postponed, so the company said it will try again next week.
Emerging Tech

UV-activated superglue could literally help to heal broken hearts

Scientists at China's Zhejiang University have developed a UV-activated adhesive glue that is capable of efficiently healing damage to organs, including the heart. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

USC’s penny-sized robotic bee is the most sci-fi thing you’ll see all week

Engineers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles have built a bee-inspired robot that weighs just 95 grams and is smaller than a penny. Check it out in action here.
Emerging Tech

Watch this drone dodge an incoming soccer ball autonomously

Most drones aren't very good at avoiding incoming objects. But now a team from the University of Zurich has developed a drone which can dodge, swoop, and dive to avoid an incoming football.
Emerging Tech

Experts warn 5G could interfere with weather forecasts, reducing accuracy by 30%

Experts and officials have warned that interference from 5G wireless radios could seriously compromise the ability to forecast weather, including the prediction of extreme weather events like hurricanes.
Emerging Tech

Chang’e 4 mission may have found minerals from beneath the surface of the moon

China's Chang'e 4 mission has made a major discovery: minerals that could be from beneath the surface of the moon. The lander spotted two unexpected mineral types which match what is believed to exist in the mantle.