If there's one thing Australia seems to do well it's speakers. From Whatmough to Richter and Krix our speakers are attracting the attention of the world. While stand-alone speakers are well catered for there's still some wiggle room in the premium iPod dock market, and this is where local company Epoz has done especially well.
The AktiMate Mini and Maxi offer true stereo hi-fi from your iPod or iPhone and feature attractive designs as well. The Mini is a 2.0-channel system that comes with an iPod dock on top of one of the speakers, which also happens to house the amplification and other inputs. The amplifier is supplied by well-known hi-fi maker Creek and can pump out 40 Watts per channel.
The two speakers come in a choice of three colours — gloss white, red or black — and also includes rubber feet to stop them from shifting across your desk.
Inputs include a 3.5mm jack, a stereo input and an AV output, which will display videos on your iPod to a connected television. Epoz suggests you can also use the stereo output to connect a subwoofer. Strangely, the speaker comes with a USB port, but it can only be used as a charger for your mobile device and won't pass audio.
The device can be controlled by a push-button volume/selector switch on the front of the left-hand speaker or by the remote control. The remote is quite bare-bones and it's not possible to change the input with it — plus the unit doesn't always register clicks.
One of the disadvantages of an iPod dock is that its left and right speakers are very close together, and as a result most of them cannot present a stereo image — everything sort of comes out of the middle somewhere.
Having two speakers means the AktiMate doesn't have this problem. In fact, it presented the finest stereo imaging we have ever heard at this price — and that includes regular hi-fi systems. Vocals were locked to the centre of the speakers while instruments were faithfully spread between the two poles.
Detail was excellent with every breath and whisper captured in acoustic music or confessional rock from artists like Nick Cave and Ben Harper. If you want to feel like the musicians are assembled in front of you then this is the iPod dock to get.
The dock is only able to plumb down to 58Hz and so if you like your bass, this may not be the dock for you. We found that the Mini was very fussy about positioning, and if placed too close to a wall it struggled to articulate anything pitched lower than a guitar, with melodic bass lines sounding rubbery and distorted. This is a problem we also found with the larger Maxi, but give it some room — roughly a metre from the wall — and the distortion disappears. We experimented by adding a Velodyne CHT-12R subwoofer and found it smoothed over some of the fluffed low notes.
The AktiMate Mini is a well-built and attractive stereo iPod dock. If you like to hear intricate details in your music and don't much care for bombast then the Mini is one of the best sounding docks for the price. Add a decent subwoofer, give it some room and it will also double as a decent "party box" as well.