The best way to start this review is with a disclaimer: if you're looking for an audiophile review of Audyssey's South of Market Audio Dock, this is definitely not it. This stems directly from the fact that I am definitely not an audiophile. I can't espouse the virtues of silk dome tweeters or tell you what I think of the 4-inch long-throw woofers the dock offers, simply because I don't know what those things are. What I can do is tell you how I, someone who has seen and heard countless iPhone docks, was struck by the Audyssey South of Market Audio Dock. I can tell you how you'll likely see it if you're not an audiophile too. After all, who needs technical mumbo-jumbo when you can't even understand what it means? Here's what you need to know: put simply, the Audyssey South of Market Audio Dock is hands down, and by leaps and bounds, the finest audio dock for the iPhone or iPod I've ever experienced.
I'm going to keep this review short and relatively simple. I'll tell you what works, and what doesn't. I'll tell you about the features you'll likely care about, but won't bother mentioning those you probably won't. By the end of reading it, you'll have my take on why (if you're comfortable spending $399 on an audio dock for your iPhone or iPod) you'll be overwhelmingly satisfied with the Audyssey SOM dock should you decide to pick it up.
The audiophiles that are out there know Audyssey Laboratories. They produce high-end IMAX calibration technology that custom-tunes audio output to the acoustic properties of a room, even taking into account odd dimensions and materials that absorb or reflect sound waves. Audyssey technology is also found in a long list of high end audio receivers from companies like Onkyo, Denon and Sony. In short, quite a pedigree.
AudioSure, the other details that will follow are relevant. You want to know about features and ease of use. You want to know about how it looks. But what you really want to know about an audio dock is how does it sound?
The sound from the Audyssey SOM dock is the loudest (without distortion), richest, most room-filling sound we've ever heard from an iPhone/iPod dock. Offerings from competitors like BOSE simply don't compare. We've had the SOM dock back and forth between our office and our homes for a couple months now, and the number of people who have asked something to the effective of "that sound is coming out of that thing?" are too numerous to count. When you have a product that people are not only impressed by, but actually ask questions about and want to know about, it speaks volumes about how good that product actually is.
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Bass is rich and deep and, on certain tracks, is literally room-shaking. Yes, room-shaking bass from a tiny table-top dock. Highs are crisp and clean. From hip-hop to glam-rock to Chopin's Nocturne in E-minor, the SOM dock excelled at everything we've thrown at it over the last couple months.
If you have any concerns about the sound quality you're going to get out of the SOM dock, put them to rest.
Check out the multiple photos throughout this review. The SOM dock is sleek and stylish and integrates well in practically any room. Unless you're trying to set it up on a week or unstable surface (the SOM is heavy, like lugging around an oversized medicine ball), the SOM should find itself at home practically anywhere.
Functionality & Features
The SOM dock has a long list of features, and I'm not going to cover them all here. As mentioned above, I'll talk about the things I care about and the one's I believe you'll also care about.
First things first, the SOM is stupid-easy out of the box. Plug it in, turn it on and slap your iPhone or iPod on the 30-pin dock connector and you're set to go. Volume, mute, track changes, etc can all be managed from the dock itself or from the provided remote. We'd like the remote to be a bit snappier (there seems to be a bit of latency from time to time), but that's serious nitpicking.
If the SOM dock will be a desktop unit for you, you'll love being able to sync and charge your iPhone or iPod without pulling it off the dock, as there's a USB lead that runs out the back which you can connect to your computer. You also have the option to use the SOM dock as your primary audio source for your computer, and why wouldn't you?
Bluetooth is easy to use and audio quality is pretty decent, though it admittedly rarely gets used around here as the quality is noticeably better when the device is directly connected.
You'll also likely enjoy the speakerphone functionality of the dock, but you'll have to make sure your device is Bluetooth-paired to use it. Audio quality varies on the speakerphone side, so I wouldn't consider it a major selling point of the dock.
I said if before, and I'll said it again, the Audyssey South of Market Audio Dock is far-and-away the finest iPhone/iPod audio dock I've ever had the pleasure to use. The rest of the staff agrees and visitors to our homes and offices have consistently been impressed.
If the price point isn't a stumbling block, you can add this dock to your home without concern.
- Loud, rich sound quality
- Shockingly powerful, deep bass
- Crisp, clean highs
- Simple, stylish design
- Easy to use
- Speakerphone (works well enough, but we don't love it)
- USB pass-through allows no-disconnect charging and syncing
- Bluetooth allows iPad music playing
- Bluetooth sound quality above-average
- Remote occasionally shows some latency
- Dock connector could be a little stiffer, but has shown no signs of wear
- Makes you hate your full-size stereo