Best iPod Docking Station: Top 10
High-End iPod Docks
The sheer number of different iPod, iPhone and iPhone docks available today is ludicrous.If any of the average 1,000,000 docks aren't enough for you, there are even combo products; how about one built into a kitchen scale or toilet paper dispenser?
In this hub, we'll take a look at the other end of the scale, namely exclusive, high-end products for the real audiophile. Naturally, what you consider a great-looking and functional iPod docking station varies from person to person, but there are some iPod/iPhone docks that rise above the throng as more eye-catching and feature-packed than the rest.
Here's a roundup of some of those products.
1. Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin
There are regular iPod docks and then there's the Zeppelin from Bowers & Wilkins. They have built a sound system that neither look nor sound like other solutions on the market, and the price tag is equally original.The most striking (and likely intentional) feature that makes the Zeppelin stand is its blimp-shaped design in black and chrome.
According to those in the know it also offers sound quality to match its unique appearance. On the back it has an RCA/optical input, USB jack and video output. The Zeppelin is controlled with a similarly egg-shaped remote, where you can switch audio sources, adjust the volume and skip between tracks.
Both users and professionals seem to agree that there are few if any iPod speakers that sound better than the British blimp. Behind the black fabric sits two pairs of tweeters, two mid-range drivers and a subwoofer that produces a heavy bass.
2. GenevaSound M
It looks like a speaker, acts like a speaker and it is a speaker. The Geneva M looks like something that could fill your entire house with sound and it probably can. Users say that the volume "goes to eleven", with a deep, fast bass and full sound, if a bit too unidirectional. There are EQ controls for bass and treble that gives you some opportunities to fine-tune the sound.
With a weight of almost eight pounds, this isn't the kind of dock you bring along to the beach--it's a real heavyweight, with sound to match. The Geneva a both elegant and aggressive powerhouse. The only downside seems to be that it is unable to stream music via WiFi.
3. Pioneer Audition Series
This is another large but compact "iPhone certified" speaker system with a dedicated subwoofer. It also comes with a remote. Besides using it as an iPod dock you can connect any audio source to it and it even has dual video outputs (component/composite) if you want to play video files from your iPhone or iPod on the TV. Bluetooth functionality is also available as an optional accessory.
What is also striking with this dock is that it - at this writing - is down to $189.99 from $449. That's a 58% savings, perhaps to clear out stocks before an updated model arrives?
4. Creative ZiiSound D5
The ZiiSound D5 is a neat-looking dock with no visible buttons. If you look closely, however, there are two touch controls on the front that can be used to adjust the volume or switch between different audio sources.
Most users seem to agree that the sound quality is very good, with an especially heavy bass making it worth its $300 price tag. An interesting bonus feature is that the dock can receive a signal wirelessly over Bluetooth, so it can be used with virtually any device that supports it. In addition to iPhone, iPod and iPad compatibility it can just as easily play music from your laptop.
5. Philips Fidelio DS9000
If anything, the Fidelio DS9000 is an exceptionally elegant dock. It is built of dark wood with a fine mesh covering the entire front. Its rounded forms are stylish and the hole in the middle is of course where your iPhone or iPod goes (sadly no iPad support here). Even its remote looks luxurious.
It has two bass pipes on the back which allegedly to a full, great-sounding bass. A digital sound processor ensures a high signal-to-noise ratio and its ring radiator tweeter is said to provide accurate and detailed sound at the higher frequencies as well. The DS9000 isn't cheap, but it certainly conveys a sense of luxury.
6. JBL On Stage 400
JBL has been in the audio game for a long time and should know how to build a top-notch iPod Dock. The On Stage 400 is relatively compact, with an oval shape that is typical for the manufacturer. Besides the dock it also accepts other sources via line-in or USB.
It comes with a small remote that offers extensive control over the iPod's menus. The sound quality is perhaps not on par with the most expensive docks, but most users agree that it's very good; with rich bass and crisp mid-range and treble.
7. Philips BTM630
Here's another high-end dock from Philips. The BTM630 is not only a dock, but a full-featured micro home audio system with Bluetooth connectivity as well as USB and memory card slots. It even has a built-in FM/AM radio tuner and a CD player that will rip tracks straight to your device.
The BTM630 almost certainly wins the race for the most features in an iPod dock, but how about the sound quality? The overall consensus is that it's good, but unlike the aforementioned Geneva M the control knob does not go to eleven. Nevertheless, if you want a complete package that will do everything but make you coffee in the morning, the BTM 630 is certainly worth looking into. Considering the features, the price tag is actually pretty attractive.
8. Harman Kardon Go + Play
As the name suggests, this is a speaker that can and should be taken outdoors. It can be loaded up with eight D-cell batteries that will last for up to 18 hours, or at least a full day worth of listening, which goes a long way. An additional hint that it's a portable player is the handlebar beat box-style design. Also included is a six-button remote.
Most reviewers and users are pretty ecstatic about how much sound this little machine puts out relative to its size. The bass is apparently particularly impressive. It comes with dual subwoofers as well as dual 30 Watt amplifiers, so it shouldn't be surprising that it gives off a lot of sound.
9. Klipsch iGroove SXT
The iGroove SXT from Klipsch is compatible with all units up to the iPhone 4, including the mini and nano-series iPods. It's a compact powerhouse with dual 2.5-inch subwoofers and two 3/4-inch 'horn-loaded' tweeters. Using horns is apparently a Klipsch-exclusive feature as far as iPod docks go. It essentially means better output from the speaker element without using more power.
Otherwise, the design of the iGroove SXT is relatively generic, but the sound quality gets impressive reviews across the board. The unit also offers video output, so that video-capable players can be hooked up to a display while the dock continues to provide the sound.
10. Cambridge iD50
The Cambridge iD50 doesn't look like much, but it is a fairly advanced piece of technology. It differs from the rest of the docks in the roundup in that it doesn't have any speakers. Instead it is used for interfacing your iPod with your home theater setup.
To further improve sound quality there's a built-in preamp with some feature called "Quasi differential noise cancelling" (don't ask). You simply hook up the device to your other gear and you're all set. An included remote is used to control the iPod on your TV set via a proprietary menu system that lets you choose songs or videos.
In other words, it's a practical device if you already have a decent setup at home. At the very least you have to give Cambridge credit for inventing Quasi-differential noise canceling.
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