If you're looking for a top-of-the-line iPod dock that not only supports iPads but looks and sounds amazing, Bang and Olufsen's BeoSound 8 is what you should get.
Got an iPad? Tried fitting it to a speaker dock yet? Doesn't work, does it? Thankfully B&O has thought of this and presents not only its first iPod dock, but also one of the first docks in the world that will fit the Apple tablet.
By B&O's own admission, the BeoSound 8 is unusual for the Danish design maestros as it centres around another company's product. It may be several years behind the rest of the world in getting an iPod dock into the arms of the public, but when the company does something it says it wants it done right.
The BeoSound 8 is an iPod dock first, but the plinth is wide enough to accommodate an iPad and the player is held on by an adaptable, screw-in brace.
The dock's fascia features a brushed aluminium finish, but the majority of the construction is a hard-wearing plastic. The device features a set of two 70W speakers on either side of the controls and despite the "floating" appearance the speakers are actually conical and not "flat". The speaker covers are also replaceable for coloured versions. The B&O doesn't lean back as far as the competitive Philips Fidelio Primoand so you needn't sit as closely to it to enjoy your music.
The dock boasts a digital connection between your Apple device and B&O's proprietary signal processor for better sound.
If you want a bit of flexibility with connections, the dock comes with a stereo RCA jack and a mini-USB port for streaming from a PC. The USB port uses the same processor for higher quality sonics.
Mimicking the style of the central control interface comes a small remote which features a nub on the back that makes it sit securely between your fingers.
The company has always prided itself on high-quality design and top-tier performance. Functionally, the B&O has the goods, but does this translate to quality sound?
Curious about the dock's ability to mate with your iPad, we began there — cueing up a copy of Daft Punk's Tron Legacy soundtrack. We were hit with a wave of clean, meticulous robot funk which, at low levels at least, was underpinned by mesmerisingly full bass. Turn it up towards breaking point, however, and you will find that the character changes and becomes less subtle and more trebly, though not degenerating into distortion. The dock wasn't quite as "dance-floor ready" as the above Philips dock, but it was certainly more "hi-fi". If you favour a crisp, intimate sound over warmth and grandeur then the BeoSound 8 may be your cup of tea.
While the dock enjoys compatibility with all the iDevices, we did encounter an issue with a jailbroken iPhone — it played a couple of seconds of music and then went silent, necessitating a reset. B&O were unable to say if this was part of an Apple-mandated security measure, but we'd suggest you should either return your phone to factory settings or consider a different dock.
Plugging the PC in, we were able to enjoy our music and movie collection in glorious stereo, though the size of the unit may preclude it from being used on the smaller desks. Similarly, the dock was able to make a decent fist of any stereo source we connected via the RCA jacks.
At AU$1500, the BeoSound is one of the most expensive iPod docks we've seen, but feel that people who are drawn to the distinctive design won't be disappointed by the sparkling sound on offer.