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Today, we're going to take a look at three weird and wonderful products at once: an iPod dock, known simply as 'the dock'; the Micropod SEs, a pair of mini speakers; and the Minibass, a stylish subwoofer for use with the aforementioned units. Together, these three make up an estimable audio system for your iPod, worth just over £500. All three can be bought separately though, should just one of them appeal.
These stylish, modern speakers come from Danish company Scandyna, which has been making professional speaker gear for 50 years. What does half a century of speaker experience sound and look like? They look rather odd, actually.
The Micropod SEs and the dock boast a much more inspired design than the multitude of square-edged boxes we so frequently see. Their rounded bodies project a Scandinavian charm you'll either love or hate. The Minibass, too, dances on the heads of more conventionally designed subwoofers, with its curvaceous design and three-pronged stand system, leaving a large bass reflex port free to exhale.
Aesthetics aren't the only thing Scandyna has put considerable thought into. The seriously impressive speaker-wire bindings are rarely seen on consumer-grade sound systems like this. The 5mm holes through the centre are ready for audiophile-approved heavy-gauge speaker wire, allowing you to get the most impressive sound possible from your iPod. These bindings feature on the dock, the Micropod speakers, and also on the Minibass. Also unusually for a system such as this, the 70mm main driver features a Kevlar piston.
The build quality of all the units is superb. They're so heavy and solid they feel as though they've been built from the Earth's core itself. A 5mm screw mounting socket is fixed into the Micropod's base, should you feel the need to fix it to a ceiling with a Scandyna bracket or something.
Sound quality of the two small speakers on their own, while punchy, is surprisingly average. To begin with we threw Glosoli by Sigur Ros into the mix. A song that relies on crystalline atmosphere and powerful, driven bass, the Micropod SEs lack the depth needed to bring it to life. Worse still, the speakers' attempt at producing bass resulted in a murky hum that leached value from the song. Plug the Minibass in, however, and the tables turn. Glosoli sounded how it should -- crystal-clear bass shook the room while the Micropods filled it with atmosphere and the haunting falsetto vocals of lead singer Jónsi Birgisson.
Some heavy drum and bass tracks from Pendulum exploded from the system, leaving windows and ceilings shaking. The complex and powerful concoction of metal from Dream Theater came equally close to destroying our office, while at the same time the Micropods reproduced accurate ambient detail.
As we mentioned, the main issue with the Micropod SE speakers is the lack of bass. Small speakers naturally tend to lack the low-end power that dance aficionados crave, but hooking up the powerful Minibass revolutionises the overall sound performance. For anything more than desktop use, the Micropods won't impress on their lonesome.
While we appreciate The Dock and Micropod speakers are intended as an iPod-only speaker system, a line-in socket would allow them to be infinitely more useful. So many people use their PCs and laptops as music jukeboxes, why not let them jack their collections into the setup too?
We love the build of the speakers and dock, but the remote control is a crock of the proverbial manure. It never fails to baffle us why companies spend so much time developing excellent products, only to include a useless and annoying remote control system. In this case it's a small, flat, cheap-looking excuse that screams for its own mercy killing.
Finally, the included speaker wire is on the cheap side.
Just £20 will improve the sound quality for you no end. If you're
looking at spending half a grand on this system, make sure you give
consideration to what carries the audio between the devices.
The system we put together above consists of the dock, two Micropod SE speakers and the Minibass subwoofer. In total this will set you back just over £500. The dock and the Micropod SEs on their own cost a disappointing £240. Despite their excellent build, fantastic components and unusual design, they're not worththat much on their own. They're excellent desktop speakers, but we would recommend going all the way and getting the Minibass too.
At the time of writing, the RRP of all three products is undercut by Amazon.co.uk to a total of £440. This is an excellent price and as a complete package will not disappoint, no matter what your musical preference. Be warned, however: your neighbours will hate you for owning these powerful beasts.
An affordable alternative would be Jamo's i300 speaker system. At close to half the price of the setup we've discussed here, it's much better value. You'll miss the extraordinary power of the Minibass subwoofer, however, and the design isn't anywhere near as beautiful.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide