gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

GenevaSound S iPod And iPhone Dock Reviewed

It’s been a long time since I took a look at an iPod or iPhone dock, in fact it’s been a while since I looked at much other than iPad and iPhone cases. However, I’m back in full force with a look at the GenevaSound S. £300 of punchy sound packaged into a pedestal mounted love-it/hate-it aesthetic and supplied with a naff plastic remote. Okay, so it’s not all roses!

GenevaSound have made a stunning effort with the model S, the smallest of their iPod/iPhone docks. With an entry-level price at £300 you’d expect something pretty impressive, and you wouldn’t be far wrong.

The Model S sports some punchy sound which is room filling and listenable at a volume level of 50, but goes right the way up to 100. It handles the middles and highs exceptionally well, almost up to the limit of its volume, but sadly falls flat on its face when it comes to full-volume bass. The bass-testing-behemoth I use to put all speakers to the test is Karsh Kale’s Distance, a song with bass which rumbles right into the lowest of lows, and causes the GenevaSound S to emit more buzzing than a jar full of angry wasps. This is disappointing, because the Model S performs so well with most other sounds, and handles all but the most ridiculous of bass fairly well. It should be capped somewhat under its 100 point volume limit, however, because it just can’t handle sound at that level (and neither can most people’s ears, to be fair).

The aesthetic is definitely a love-it or hate-it affair, yet I somehow still manage to land on the fence. It is, effectively, just a featureless coloured box. However, I reviewed the Red model and an obnoxious Ferrari-red in this form factor is a little overbearing. I can’t help but think it would look great in black or white, however; which are incidentally the other two available colour choices.

You can mount the GenevaSound S on your choice of pedestal or four regular feet. It looks best on the pedestal for sure, and takes up a lot less desk/table/bedside cabinet space… although I’m not that there’s much you’d be putting under there. It comes with a built-in clock, which can function as an alarm-clock, and has very few visible features besides, leaving a very aesthetically pleasing, minimalist finish that you’ll love if you can overcome it’s somewhat boxy shape.

The controls on the top are all but invisible until activated, using a touch-sensitive backlit style that isn’t uncommon on monitors and other appliances these days. The power button is, however, in a recess which intuitively lets you know exactly where it is.

The iPhone dock itself is ridiculously well featured. It rotates out from the rectangular area in the middle of the speaker and produces a lovely moulded metallic styled dock port into which you can place adaptors, or just jam your naked iPhone. It looks metal, but isn’t, and shying away from quality materials when it comes to the details seems to be a consistent failure on Geneva’s part.

The cabinet itself is a rugged combination of glossy lacquered wood and metal cooling fins, but the dock and remote seem to stray into the cheap-plastic domain letting down the otherwise solid, high quality and clean design.

The remote is the naffest, plastic piece of nonsense I’ve ever seen come with such an otherwise expensive and reasonably high quality product. It pretends to be metal, but picking it up reveals a lightweight, low quality remote that’s certainly not befitting the model S. To its credit, however, the buttons are very solid, clicky and responsive although they could stick further from the remote. Geneva have produced a very good crap remote… which makes it difficult to truly hate, despite the pang of longing for something quality and aluminium and befitting a Cambridge Audio or Denon separate.

Where the GenevaSound S really comes into its own, however, is in control. The control you have over your iPhone/iPod is exceptionally complete, and you can even fire up Spotify on an iPhone 4 (or iOS4) and not only liten to, but navigate through, Spotify tunes through the speaker. The combination of great Spotify control and good-enough sound make this a pretty damned good dock, which really exemplifies what music in the 21st century should be like. Couple it with a bluetooth keyboard, too, and searching for tunes when the fancy takes you should be much easier and quicker. If you foot the bill for a Spotify premium account, which you should, you end up with a compact little box of endless entertainment that’s extremely quick and easy to relocate from one room to another.

We found it to be quite at home in the office, where the volume is kept low, and the sound is fairly spread and, of course, crystal clear. It’s a great product for this sort of setting including a low-listening-level-living-room placement, but if you like your music ridiculously loud and bassy then it’s probably not for you. It’s got a built-in FM radio, too, if you’re old enough to know what radio is.

Overall, it’s a good product that will produce great, room-filling sound. But it isn’t as brilliant as it should be at this price point. Buy it if you like the look of it, or need something that’s vibrant and red to fit your own style or furnishings, love the idea of fully-featured Spotify control and endless tunage, or want a good room-filling, premium speaker with crystal clear sound. Avoid if, like me, your tastes include not-so-subtle, DnB or metal music played at deafening volumes.

The Model S can be had for £299 in Red, White or Black.

Sunday, August 15th, 2010, Home Entertainment.