This iPod/iPhone speaker dock is the brainchild of Studio Conran, and anything with design guru Sir Terence Conran’s name attached to it should be an uber-stylish piece of kit.
That’s certainly the case, but to ensure there’s some substance behind the style its audio engineering comes courtesy of audiophile speaker brand Q Acoustics. Billed as a ‘100% pure music player’ it allows you to play tunes from your iPod as well as listen to music over a Bluetooth connection.
Beautifully built and dressed in a crisp, stark white finish, this dock deserves full living room visibility, not bedroom anonymity. It’s also available in black if that’s more your bag. The top section slopes downwards, providing a nicely-angled platform for your iPod, and to hold it in place you get a selection of plastic clips that slot into a circular recess and can be rotated.
The rest of the front panel is covered in a dotted speaker mesh, lurking behind which are two 75mm drive units with two 30mm tweeters. The unit is peppered with gorgeous little touches, such as the wooden base and the strips of light along the bottom and around the side-mounted volume dial that glow different colours depending on the selected source. The supplied remote can be conveniently housed in a recess on the side – press the bottom and out it pops.
Around the back you’ll find two analogue audio inputs, one minijack and one pair of phono inputs, and a mini USB port, which allows you to connect the unit to a PC or Mac and sync a docked iPod with iTunes.
Conran Audio iPod Dock – Features
For £250 we’re a little disappointed by the feature list. There’s no DAB or FM radio on board, no PC streaming, no Wi-Fi – all of which, coincidentally can be found on the Pure Contour which costs £50 less. You’re paying for the design and the Conran name, so those looking for a one-stop music solution need not apply.
There is, however, a built-in Bluetooth connection, which lets you stream music wirelessly from phones and other compatible devices. If your device supports apt-X, you can enjoy better quality sound than a regular Bluetooth connection.
There are also six sound modes aimed at different musical genres, and power output is rated at 2 x 15W.
Conran Audio iPod Dock – Performance
Operation would have been made easier with a display, but that might have ruined the aesthetic. As a result certain functions seem a little long-winded, such as changing EQ modes – you have to hold down two keys together then toggle through all the modes, with the strip of light at the bottom your only visual aid. Also, with an iPod docked you can only skip tracks or play/pause, but not browse menus.
But when it comes to iPod sound quality, Sir Terry certainly knows his onions. Whether you’re playing DJ Spinna’s pulsating house rhythms or gentle jazz recordings by Miles Davis you get a wonderfully sprightly sound, with crisp high frequencies and a healthy helping of bass.
With 30W in the tank it’s not fulsome enough to give the Zeppelins of this world a run for their money, but overall the sound is smooth and well-balanced. Tunes streamed from a Bluetooth phone (without apt-X) sound compressed but oddly enjoyable. All of which is great, but we wish there were a few more features to justify that price tag.
Conran Audio launch date: Out now, link Conran Audio
Conran Audio price: £249