The name Logic3 will be familiar to console owners who've ever shopped in the bargain bins for controllers. Where it has less of a following is in the kind of high-end audio market that demands things like valve amplifiers for its music rips.
Not that this should prejudice your judgement of its new Valve80 iPod dock. No-one had even heard of Fatman until it began making valve amps in the early 90s, and you wouldn't doubt the quality of the Fatman iTube against which the Valve80 must, inevitably, be compared, would you?
It's not just that the Valve80 is similar in function to the iTube, it looks almost the same too. This isn't a bad thing: the stainless steel base with its heavy-duty transformer and trio of valves look incredible – and not just in a kitschy, cyberpunk way.
The build-quality is tremendous and as well as the gentle glow of the valves there's a blue LED level monitor that pulses away in time to the music.
Just like the base station, the speakers are solidly built and trimmed with a 50s flare. The tweeters rise above the main body.
Controls are simple, with just a volume control and an input selector, and there's a bundled remote for the iPod when docked. The choice of two auxiliary channels means that you could realistically use this to beef up the output of your PC and still plug in a CD or DVD player as well.
The amp is rated for a healthy 40W per channel, and is clear and powerful enough to shame most MP3 collections. The unprepared will hear clipped treble tones and compression-distorted bass in most downloaded music or rips, but anyone who's been carefully building up a lossless collection will appreciate just how good this amp is.
Review continues after the break...
Sadly, the speakers really don't sound as good as they look. The whole reason for buying a valve-based system is to introduce some warmth into otherwise clinical sounding digital tracks, but the boxy, flat profile of the Valve80’s satellites just doesn't have enough bass to make the effort worthwhile.
In a way, it's the worst of both worlds – every flaw in your files is revealed by the amp and all the well-encoded parts are flattened by the dull speakers.
And since you can't buy the Valve80 without the speakers, Logic3 has a problem: anyone who owns a decent set already that would make the most of the amp’s power will be better off with the marginally cheaper Fatman iTube, which doesn't come with cones.