PURE i-20 Digital Dock for iPod/iPhone with Hi-Fi Quality Audio and Video Output

General Information

The PURE i-20 is a next-generation digital iPod dock that helps you get the best from your digital music collection by producing hi-fi quality audio from your iPod or iPhone. One of the first things you will notice about the PURE i-20 when you start to use it is that the audio coming out of the i-20 is significantly louder than the audio via the iPod headphone socket. The hi-fi quality audio is produced from high bit rate tracks on your iPod or iPhone using PURE Clearsound™ digital end-to-end technology and a superior 24-bit 192 KHz digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) for its analogue output. RCA connectors give analogue output, meaning the audio will be processed on i-20's integral DAC, providing a better audio experience on your radio/hi-fi with a standard 3.5mm line input. Two digital outputs; coaxial S/PDIF and optical TOSLINK, bypassing the integral DAC allowing the raw digital audio to be processed on your hi-fi amplifier. Movies, TV and music video purchased from the iTunes store can be outputted at 576P for display on your TV. Simply dock a compatible iPod/iPhone in the i-20 and connect to the TV using the supplied component video cable via a 3.5mm video output socket supporting both S-Video and Component video. Alternatively a composite video cable can be used in the yellow RCA connector (composite cable available separately). The audio content will still be played via the audio cables, through whichever output device you have connected them to e.g. the TV, your hi-fi or another device. In addition to this the high-backed cradle gives great stability when controlling your iPod directly on the dock. The PURE i-20 is supplied with a remote control, component video cable and a dual phono to 3.5mm audio output cable. iPod and iPhone models currently supported include: 2nd,3rd,4th,5th and 6th generation iPod Nano, iPod Classic 80,120 and 160GB, iPod Touch 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation, iPhone 2G, 3G, 3Gs, 4.

Latest reviews

Pros: Excellent digital out, OK DAC.
Cons: Power supply can be improved
I think some of the reviews above have missed the real point of the i-20 for audiophiles, it provides an excellent spdif output from an iPod. Used with an external DAC the sound is excellent and having tried some of the alternatives (Wadia, Onkyo) I'm not convinced their digital outs are any better despite the much higher prices. In fact, once I ran the i-20 from a linear PSU it was better than the Wadia.
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Thanks for the review. I'm looking to get a dock for iPod Classic to utilize their digital out to my DAC. The Wadia came up but can't tell if there is a difference between these docks for digital out.
Pros: Inexpensive, versatile, charges iPod, bypasses iPod's DAC so you can use a better amp, very handy as a dock.
Cons: BRIGHT sound reproduction, on the verge of harsh.
I wanted to bypass the internal iPod DAC to get some better sound quality and plumb the output into a better amplifier. The Pure i-20 allows you to do this, but that comes with some drawbacks: this is by far the cheapest iPod DAC on the market, and it sounds like it's the cheapest. The sound quality that comes out of this DAC is bright by any standard, on the verge of harsh. I find that I can't turn the volume up on my amplifier very far before the sound produced from the DAC output on this device becomes so bad, that I have to take my headphones off and stop listening to music for a while.
It does make a nice iPod Dock, but it doesn't do anything by itself other than allowing you to hook your iPod up to some other audio component. It has no speakers, just an array of outputs on the back panel (which does include Toslink and video, which some may find useful).
There is a reason this is an inexpensive unit. It really is not worth the money. I wasted $90 bucks on this thing, and I honestly wish I could return it. Sadly I've had it too long. It is a very handy design, if you're into that kind of thing. It holds my iPod nicely so it doesn't wander around my desk at work, so there's something to be said for that. It charges the iPod so I don't have to keep the cable connected to a USB port or charger (which would have been 70 bucks cheaper to buy).
Basically, I'm not happy. I didn't want to spend hundreds more on what seemed like the only other alternatives to this device, so I took a chance. I'm sorry that I bothered. On the other hand, if I keep the volume set low, it's not so bad. I plumb the output into a Bravo V2 and use it at work, and after getting used to it for a couple weeks, I've learned how to deal with the harsh high end: keep the volume low. That way, my ears aren't glowing bright red when I go home at night.
It uses a Cirrus Logic CS4353 DAC chipset so this makes sense. My Ipod Touch 2G also sounds sort of bright and almost near being harsh..yet it measures flat. The Ipod Touch 2G also uses a Cirrus Logic DAC but not sure which one.
It's too bad there were not more CHEAP options to bypass the DAC AND amp on an Ipod.
Agreed. I actually went exploring on Cirrus Logic's website to see if I could find a similar chip to replace it with. Didn't appear there were many other options. This would be once of those purchases that I'd mod in a heartbeat, if there was a mod that could fix the harshness.
I should also mention I've done a lot of tube rolling on my Bravo V2 to find a tube that mellows this thing out. The stock Bravo V2 tube is really, really bad when paired with this DAC. Fortunately most any long plate NOS 12AU7 will do the trick (the 5963 tubes also sound quite nice in this pairing).
Pros: Slight reduction in treble harshness, slightly better soundstage
Cons: Doesnt' do much more than using the apple dock and a good amp
**I won't be commenting on the build quality or the features of the DAC, this is a sound quality vs the Apple dock review only.**
The Pure-i20 is a very well priced product COMPARED to the other Ipod dacs out there BUT the sound quality upgrade is small compared to a normal apple dock and it could be a waste of money depending on what you are buying it for.
This was test rig:
Rega Ear headphone amp
Audioquest Golden Gate interconnect (£60)
[a very 'clear' revealing interconnect, used for both docks]
Cambridge Audio Pacific interconnect (£40-ish?)
Apple dock
Pure i-20
Ipod Touch 2g
Senheisser 439 closed back headphones
Testing method
Using one interconnect for both docks (Audioquest - with an adapter for the apple dock) and then different cables (Cambridge Audio Pacific)I swapped between the Apple dock and the i-20. All the time using the same amp and headphones.
1)Simply using the Apple dock and plugging it into a good amp improves the sound HUGELY, clarity, soundstage, dynamics, the lot.
2)Using the Pure i-20 gives only around 20% more quality on top of that imho.
So, you will get a greater improvement in sound quality from your Ipod simply by plugging it into your hifi or headphone amplifier! I couldn't believe this either. I had assumed it was the DAC in my iPod Touch 2g which was poor, not at all, the amp driving the headphones is the weak link!
But don't be to enraged if you've just bought an i-20 and not listened to it yet. There is a noticeable difference between the normal apple dock and the i-20 but it's not huge, just incremental. 
Imho, using the i-20 you get 20% better..
- clarity, space around the instruments.
- reduction in treble harshness, which you may only hear with the normal dock if you have a good quality interconnect anyway.
But on the downside..
- you get a more laid back sound.
Laidback sounds ok right, well maybe not. The Apple dock's sound involves me in the music, using the i-20 I had to turn up the volume just to feel slightly excited.
In Summary
-You may wish to demo a i-20 before buying.
- There are advantages with the i-20 over the Apple dock for example the number and types of connections on the back of it.
-Compared to many of the other DACs out there it's a steal. You just may not need it.
20% improvement?!? Well worth $40 then...
I find your review surprising and confusing in equal measure. If the i-20 does indeed provide '20% more quality', as you state, then it is a triumph. I actually agree with you on this; the i-20 sounds much better than the most iPod line outs. But the real strength of the i-20 is the digital out. The ability to play lossless files through a quality external DAC makes the humble iPod a serious audiophile 'transport'.
For the price the i-20 is brilliant value. And yes; you do need one!


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