iPOD SPEAKER DOCK FIRST TESTS
EXCLUSIVE Monitor Audio i-deck 100 | iPod speaker dock | £300
Amazing dock – could it shoot down the Zeppelin Mini?
From its quirky looks to its great sound, the i-deck 100 is sure to be a talking point
Consider if You want a stylish, entertaining speaker dock that doesn’t do much more than sound brilliant
You’ll need A little patience with the remote control – slow, deliberate button presses are the way forward
Make sure You don’t try to mount an iPad on the i-deck – you’ll only end up obstructing the speakers
Avoid Using it in too large a room. The sound might be expansive, but it will still get lost in big spaces
Highlight The i-deck’s ability to dig out a serious amount of detail across the whole frequency range
Dabbling in the world of iPod speaker docks has already proven very successful for Worthing-based B&W, so it should come as no surprise that another plucky Brit with plenty of hi-fi pedigree fancies a piece of the action. Monitor Audio actually launched the original i-deck in 2005, but this first attempt took the form of a micro system as opposed to the new, symmetrical ‘tulip’ design that you see here.
Don’t fear the speakers Designed for small to medium-sized rooms, it uses drivers derived from the company’s loudspeakers: twin 19mm gold dome tweeters and twin 3in C-CAM bass drivers to be precise. Total power output is 90W.
The feature count is relatively modest. There’s no Apple AirPlay, and you can’t sync your iPod to a PC or Mac through the dock. There is a 3.5mm auxiliary input on the rear of the unit for connecting a different external source, though.
The supplied remote has been styled to complement the tulip design and sits snugly in the hand. However, the response of the basic controls for skipping track or changing volume could be more accurate.
One unique feature is the i-deck’s Automatic Position Correction (APC). When you power up the system for the first time it emits three different test tones. An internal mic measures these and either leaves the sound alone, or tunes it for being positioned close to a wall or in the corner of a room. We found the i-deck sounded best close to a wall up to around 30cm away.
Taking the digital stream from your iPod or iPhone, the i-deck produces an open, spacious sound. It’s going to struggle to fill a large room, but the expansive soundstage is mighty impressive. Detail levels are excellent across the frequency range. Spin Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the lead guitar sparkles, while the solitary vocal sounds expressive. Drums
USE IT WITH Apple iPhone 4 A stylish piece of kit and much smarter than your average smartphone
If you’re looking to fill a larger room, then consider moving up a size to the i-deck 200. Monitor Audio’s bigger brother is wider and slightly taller than the 100 as it has to accommodate larger drive units. Total power is up to 140W, too.
hit with precision and a sense of dynamism that some rivals find tough to match. The Prodigy’s No Good (Start The Dance) is a potent mix of rhythms and basslines, yet the i-deck laps them up, producing a splendidly attacking, rhythm-driven rendition of this club classic. Even at low volume levels, the i-deck’s dynamic capabilities shine through.
The i-deck’s strong showing should be cause for concern for the likes of B&W’s Zeppelin Mini. Just how much concern remains to be seen…
FOR Interesting-looking; open, detailed sound; tight, solid bass performance
AGAINST Lean feature count; remote response can be hit and miss
VERDICT A quality speaker dock full of style and, most importantly, substance
Needs to beat Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Mini £300 ★★★★★ The current class-leader and natural rival for the i-deck 100