Ian Knott has been commentating on various forms of technology for the last 16 years.
He’s had columns on gadgets, gaming, computing and digital entertainment in many newspapers, magazines and websites in New Zealand and overseas.
The iPod speaker dock market is a saturated one to say the least. A glance in any garden-variety electronics store will see a bevy of low-end speakers designed for teenager’s bedrooms and glorified alarm clock-radios for the bedsides of the more technologically savvy grown-ups among us.’
But what about the higher-end of the market? I stop short of mentioning ‘audiophiles’ at this point, because a true ‘audiophile’ would shiver in their turtleneck sweater while hiding behind their purpose-built rack system at the thought of listening to an MP3, let alone a speaker dock.
No, I’m talking about decent quality and stylish hardware that caters for those of us who love the convenience and portability of our digital music collection and want to utilise the content of our iDevice around home, for parties and chilling out on hazy Sunday mornings.
Philips might not be a brand that one might automatically gravitate to when it comes to audio equipment, but from a personal standpoint I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever had a Philips product break down on me or fail to live up to promises or expectations.
Philips has a new range of eye-catching (or should that be iCatching) speaker docks. The big kahuna of the Philips Fidelio range is the DS9000 – and an impressive looking, and performing piece of kit it is too. The DS9000 meant to be on display in your lounge – it’s a conversation starter, yet effortlessly blends in with any décor.
The smooth, wooden rear is made using a process called ‘veneer lamination’ which forms multiple layers of lacquered plywood together to produce a stiff and weighty structure, reducing any internal vibration. The rounded shape also eliminates any internal sound reflection. Precisely tuned bass pipes at the rear deliver tight bass performance at any volume level.
The central gap also has a specific purpose apart from somewhere for your toddler to feed Matchbox cars and half-eaten biscuits. It reduces interference between the left and right speakers, which in turn are covered by a standard black mesh. The front of the unit has proximity sensitive volume buttons that light up blue when a hand comes close to them and a spring-loaded, standard iPod connection. IPods or iPhones slot straight on to the connector, even with cases or bumpers attached and will charge while playing your music.
The DS9000 also accommodates iPads, and they look quite impressive, but attaching them isn’t an easy feat due to the curvature of the iPad’s edge where the charging port is. It takes a bit of patience to hold the spring-loaded connector forward while you slot the iPad onto it.
While you don’t need it, there is a free downloadable app, DockStudio, which acts as an interface while your iDevice is attached. You can control your music and it will also display a clock and the local weather.
The DS9000 can envelop a room with balanced and detailed sound with impressive ease. The high-grade passive crossovers between its dual 25mm tweeters and 100mm mid/bass-drivers eliminate any distortion, even at organ-liquefying volume levels.
Strangely enough, the DS9000 does not support Bluetooth audio streaming like the other models in the Fidelio range, which seems out of place with the common ethos that the top-end product should include every possible feature. It’s not a deal-breaker though. The unit comes with a nicely crafted remote control that allows full control of any feature, but iPod Touches, iPhones and iPads will require the DockStudio app for this to work.
At $699.95, the DS9000 is up there in terms of luxury items, but as an alternative to an expensive component system and for pure convenience without sacrificing too much quality, this, along with the whole Fidelio range is hard not to recommend.