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Elite Shackster , HTS Moderator Emeritus
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Recently I got the opportunity to review several cables from RAM Electronics. Now to set the record straight, I'm a hi-fi and home theater nut. I like the sound and screen big and the music uncompressed. My wife, though, hardly ever listens to music on the stereo, but prefers her iPod. And through hosting various parties and social gatherings, I have seen the need to have portable solutions to keep music going in rooms around the house.

Enter the I-Extreme Docking connector from RAM Electronics. It is a bridging cable with the special iPod connector on one end and two RCA connectors on the other.

First Thoughts: The cable was sturdy and very well made, super easy to connect to the front of my Marantz pre/pro, and sounded great.

The good: The RCA connectors are solder type. I cracked open (okay unscrewed) the base of them to check out the craftsmanship. Very good solder joints. No messy solder trails everywhere; just shiny solid beads (meaning no cold solder joints and little chance of shorting -- which can happen on soldered connections). But here the person doing the work definitely knew their craft.

The iPod end of the cable was similarly sturdy. So much so that it's actually hard to get off once you are done. Some people would argue this as a negative, but to me, sturdy connections are pure connections with a clean signal path.

Finally, I am a sucker for Techflex. This wonderful plastic product makes ordinary wires look truly special. And I am pretty sure it helps the electrons flow more freely, since they know they are surrounded by style. In all seriousness, it makes the cable look professional, and clean and since this will definitely be exposed (since the iPod has to be front and center for you to control it), this is a definite plus.

The bad: The only manufacturing flaw I found was cosmetic. The shrink wrap at the Y split of the wires was poorly crimped. It looks like someone just used some needle nose pliers to squish it while it was still hot. The tool marks are visible and it does stand out a bit. I could have a prototype or first run before this problem was fixed (or just a fluke), so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. A small defect in an otherwise pretty and well performing cable.

The only other negative (and it's a small one as well) is the target audience. I run most of my music through a Squeezebox directly wired to the two channel system. We hook the iPod to the systems very rarely, so a cable like this is perfect for me. However, someone who wants to use the iPod as the main source for music would most likely want an actual dock that doubles as a charger and keeps the unit upright for easier control. So I see this product appealing to a more limited market. Not a dig on the unit itself, just an observation.

Final thoughs: Testing consisted of hooking everything up, listening for a while, then yanking the cord around mid-song to listen for pops or static or anything else indicative of a bad connection. None were found. An accidental yank or twist won't send a fit of crackling to your speakers -- again, this unit is very well built.

Sound quality was excellent, although compressed music is not my cup of tea. But to compare apples to apples (ugh, even I think that's an awful unintentional pun), I ran the same songs through the headphone jack to the Aux input. I definitely preferred the I-Extreme cable -- probably because it runs as a line out as opposed to a headphone out, which have different impedances. The preamp was better suited to this kind of input and the sound quality was noticably clearer. This was all tested on an iPod Nano, although it would work with the full size iPods as well.

So overall, only a minor cosmetic complaint, but otherwise a solid top-performing cable. If you are looking for a way to link up your iPod to your main system, I can definitely recommend this product.


What: iPod I-Extreme Docking connector
Where: RAM Electronics
Link: http://www.ramelectronics.net/ipod-...docking-to-stereo-rca-cable/prodIFEPDRCA.html
Cost: $38.99

Test Equipment:
Marantz SR-18 (pre/pro)
Outlaw Audio 750 amplifier
iPod Nano (skinny version, not the short fat version)
Magnepan MG10.1 speakers
2x15" Linkwitz Dipole subwoofer (Dayton HPSA-1000 amplifier)
 

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Our iExtreme docking cables now have Neutrik mini 3.5mm(1/8") and RCA connectors, plus 26 gauge silver plated Teflon wire, for durability and performance. Docking connector cables are line level audio outputs and superior sounding when connected to any receiver, powered speaker or car auxiliary audio input.

Larry Harris
Ram Electronics
 

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RAM has now added the Ulti-mate iPod cable to their line up.



The Ulti-mate iPod cable gives you an auxiliary audio out and USB connection option for charging or synchronizing your iPod, iPhone or iTouch player using a single cable. The 3.5mm(1/8") jack connects to the auxiliary audio input jack on your automobile radio and the breakout length between the USB jack is adjustable. Plug the USB jack into any standard USB power adapter for a fully powered connection. Available lengths up to six(6) feet long.
 
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