Fatman Carbon Trinity review

High-quality valve amp for your iPod

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Ask any audio enthusiast about valve (or tube) amplifiers and they’ll regale you with tales of their warm, natural sound and rattle off a list of ancient hi-fi gear that used them. But Fatman has dragged this retro tech into the 21st century, combining vacuum tubes with modern iPod technology – the results of which can be seen (and heard) in the Carbon Trinity.

This is perhaps the most unusual iPod dock we’ve clapped eyes on. With a series of components placed on top of the main chassis, it’s in danger of looking like a school electronics project, but the gloss black finish keeps things nice and stylish. It’s robustly built, and the silver dials on the front that control volume and input selection contrast nicely with the black finish.

There’s a healthy array of connections on the back, including S-video and composite outputs that allow you to watch iPod videos. They’re joined by RCA analogue input, 3.5mm audio input, a subwoofer output and a USB port for streaming music from a PC or laptop.

The bundle includes a pair of robust bookshelf speakers styled in a similarly lustrous high-gloss finish as the main unit, and these connect to sturdy binding posts on the back using the supplied high-quality cables. Also in the box is a surprisingly cheap and clunky remote.

Fatman Carbon Trinity – Performance

Rig up an iPod and the sound quality is outstanding. At 25W per speaker, the amplification is powerful enough to get the party going, but thanks to that valve processing you’re treated to a distinctly warm sound with fulsome bass even without adding a sub. You also get lashings of detail, which really helps to draw you into richly textured recordings like jazz or classical, but it does the business with any track you throw at it.

With such impressive sound quality, it’s easy to see why valve amps are still adored by audiophiles after all these years, but despite that we’re still not sure it’s good enough to completely justify that hefty £500 price tag. After all, the Philips Fidelio’s sound offers superior detail reproduction and a generally more refined sound, but it costs around £100 less. That slight reservation aside though, the Carbon Trinity is a very compelling product, with a unique design, great sound quality and more connections than you normally find on a speaker dock.

The Fatman Carbon Trinity is out now, link Fatman

POWER: 2x 25Watt
CONNECTIVITY: RCA, USB, 3.5mm, Composite, S-Video
SPEAKER DIMENSIONS/WEIGHT: 374x205x155mm/5.8kg amp /2.5kg speaker