DLO HomeDock for iPod is crap!

I got a 60GB Video iPod from my girlfriend for Christmas in 2005. I’ve been having a great time with it.

I bought a pair of DLO HomeDocks for it, one to use at home and one at the office. They’re a pretty good value for the money, compared to Apple’s equivalent offering (which requires assembling a whole bunch of separately purchased pieces to get the same functionaliy that the DLO HomeDock has out of the box.)

It’s a pretty good deal… but not good enough.

The sound quality from these things is absolutely appalling. We’re talking class-action lawsuit kind of appalling. The sound is so bad, it should never have made it past the first usability testing, let alone been unleashed upon unsuspecting customers. And they have the nerve to say on the box “Play your iPod’s music through your home stereo and hear how good your iPod really sounds.” Well, if a constant barrage of digital bleeps, buzzes, clicks and whirrs underlying every song sounds good to you, maybe you’ll agree with that statement. I would say I got a couple defective units, but apparently they’re all like this.

Not one to be defeated so easily, I thought I would take one apart to see what makes it tick. I have a feeling it may be possible to clean up the sound with some careful mods.

I get this feeling, because in my experience, this kind of digital noise leaks into audio in only a few ways:

  • Carried on the power supply lines to the analog chips.
  • Coupled across digital and analog lines that run in parallel.
  • Carried on the ground lines.
  • All of these problems, once correctly identified, can be rectified. Power supplies can often be cleaned up with additional filtering at the supply, and decoupling capacitors at each load. Sometimes, bus-topology supply or ground wiring can allow a noisy digital load with high switching currents to affect the supply and ground levels for all components downstream of it. This can be fixed by running separate supply leads back to a relatively noise-free central distribution point, making a star topology.

    As a last resort, it is probably possible to just bypass the electronics in the HomeDock that are creating these problems.

    So far, I haven’t been able to determine a whole lot in my examination of the innards of the HomeDock, but I have determined a few things:

  • The volume control feature is implemented inside the HomeDock, it is not passed through to the iPod itself. The level coming out of the iPod is constant. This means that if we bypass the HomeDock’s electronics, we’ll lose the volume control feature. That may not be a problem, especially if you connect your iPod to a receiver that has its own volume control.
  • It is built around a Microchip PIC16F630 microcontroller. It looks like there’s an in-circuit programming header on the board, which hints at some interesting possibilities if one’s kung-fu is strong enough.
  • The volume control feature is provided by a chip which appears to me to be a National Semiconductor LM4811 Dual 105mW Headphone Amp with Digital Volume Control.
  • There are assorted TL082 op-amps scattered throughout. A very common jellybean op-amp. A very nice chip, actually. I like it.
  • The PCB is a fairly simple two-layer job. A lot of surface mount components, though, which doesn’t make modification any easier.
  • So, that’s about all I’ve been able to glean so far. If I have any success in cleaning up the sound of this abominable piece of crap, I’ll post it here.

    11 Responses to “DLO HomeDock for iPod is crap!”


    • I have bought 2 DLO Home docks systems, both have died on me. The last one to die frooze up the video on my 60GB iPod and then it continued to be a problem, not working. I wonder if the “Deluxe” fixes the problems I had?

    • I bought one of these about a year ago because it was on a 1/2 off deal, and I thought that it might me a good dock for the price. I plugged it in and I felt like I spent 50 dollars for a piece of shit. This dock gives feedback as well as crappy sound.

    • I did a google search and stumbled on this site because I have a very similar problem. I bought a Homedock, and when I plug it in on any speaker or home stereo, my 80GB iPod sounds horrible, with background high pitched noise, constant low frequency feedback sound from the power supply and really low volume on the left channel. Mine was $130 on Bestbuy, and I feel robbed. Stay away from this product. On the other hand I also bought a DLO car dock, and thankfully it sounds OK.

    • Glad I’m not the only one with deception with this product. I bought it thru my credit card points, thank god I didn’t spend real cash for this. It died on me 2 months ago, at first I thought it was the remote, since there is no other way to turn it on or off, I’ve changed the battery, nope, so I ordered a new remote, and surprise its not the remote.
      I guess thats why they only give a 90 day warranty, since they know its probably gonna break after a year. And I was never impressed with the sound quality either.
      I will be returning the remote and buy a different dock for my 30 gig video ipod.

      cheers.

    • Dear Ron
      I know exactly what you are referring to with your 60gig ipod and the HomeDock… all those noises!!… my experience too.
      However don’t be too quick to put all the blame on the HomeDock.
      The 60gig your girl friend got you is a 5th gen. ipod.
      I replaced my 60gig with an 80gig 5.5 gen ipod and, VOILA, no more noises.
      The Apple store sells refurbished previous generation (5.5gen) ipods in 30&80gig units. Their availability comes and goes so be patient and your problem can be solved.
      It is important that you get the 5.5gen ipod as it has the best Wolfson DAC chip ever put in an ipod thus making it the finest sounding ipod ever made.
      The new Classic does note have a Wolfson DAC and so is not recommended by me.
      Back to the 5.5 gen ipod… I think that ‘Apple’ discovered noise and sound dropout problems with it’s 5th gen and fixed it… thus the 5.5gen. (By the way; the 5G/5.5G have the same Wolfson WM8758 DAC so they sound the same the only diff. is the 5th is defective the 5.5 is NOT)
      Regards
      Peter
      PS Take a look at the Red Wine Audio iMod site!!!!!!!!!

    • the dock is still kind of a peice of crap, ive used it with a couple of different older and new ipods and the sound is just never right, something is always a little off.

    • My iPod Classic has only been played in the first buggy HomeDock Deluxe. Constant resets to get it to recognize the iPod but I could get it to work most of the time. Now my iPod control wheel doesn’t work. I tried resetting it according to Apple’s specs but it will only play in the HomeDock. This is the third iPod I’ve had that doesn’t work or has died since using this HomeDock. Is there a connection here? Is anyone else having all these dead iPods that worked fine for months / years?

    • I agree. The DLO HomeDock Deluxe is crap! I couldn’t even get any audio out of it, just static. The support by Panasonic is a joke too! Panasonic support did not offer any options or ask questions to assist with the issue (warranty had run out). They pretty much hinted with their attitude that I was screwed and I will not be getting any help from them. I do greatly appreciate that Panasonic support employs english speaking people that are easily understood.

    • if anyone has the DLO PN 006-1000 HOMEDOCK i will pay top dollar for 1 or 2,

      please email me

      rene.lazo@shaw.ca

    • When I plug my IPOD into dock I get a message ACCESSORY NOT SUPPORTED..It jus started showing this message and had been working well till now.

      Any suggestions???

    • I recently bought an apple universal dock with a remote control. I previously had a dock which worked well but wanted to be able to remotely control what my ipod was playing so invested in the updated version with remote controller. What a waste of money. Whilst the remote allows me to move tracks forward and back the menue button does not work so if I wish to change the play list of artist I have to do it manually. Also the dock will not take my most recent ipod which has the narrow 6/7 mm slot for charging. All in all a total waste of money. So buyers beware don’t waste your cash on this out of date malfunctioning piece of rubbish.

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