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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Funky Filthy Sound Dock Roadtest

“The sun is out! Quick, before the clouds come back! Everyone outside, light the BBQ! Pour some drinks! Have some fun, before it rains again.”

A pretty standard thought process in many parts of the UK at this time of year, but there is one vital ingredient of the ultimate British BBQ which hasn’t been mentioned yet . . . music! Ideally when the sun is shining it will be the funkiest stuff you’ve got, and then when the sun goes down and the hardcore people are still pouring drinks and burning sausages, the music should be as filthy as the neighbours can handle.
But unless you have enough money to pay for Skrillex to play in your marquee, or enough patience to move your entire system out onto the patio, the best way forward is a Speaker Dock for your phone or MP3 player.

So we got our hands on five of the best speaker docks out there and put them through the ultimate test to see how they handle your favourite bass music.
And on the mini playlist for our (albeit imaginary) BBQ? An even split of funk and filth.

Bringing the funk we have:
Lenny Kravitz – American Woman (Funkanomics Remix)
Will Styles – Say Yo Yo
Hostage - I Get High (Mooqee B-Breaks ReRub)

and spraying the filth we have:
N.A.S.A. - Gifted (Masuka Remix)
Freestylers - Say Yes (Ben & Lex Remix)
Doctor P & Elite Force - Watch Out (RVMPD)

Links to listen to and download all of these tunes for free at the end of this post. Let’s see how the docks handled our monster playlist . . .

Altec Lansing Mix iMT810 - RRP around £199.99
Firstly, this thing looks mean! And with a 5.25in woofer, 5.25in passive radiator, two 3in mid range drivers and two horn-mounted 1in tweeters, Altec Lansing have clearly thought about making the sound of this thing match its appearance. It doesn’t disappoint. The iMT810 brushes aside the Say Yo Yo and American Woman basslines as if they weren’t even there, delivering them beautifully, and it thumps out Watch Out sweetly too. So how does it handle the big bass guns of Say Yes and Gifted?
The Say Yes naughtiness is also no problem for this dock, and there’s barely any struggle or distortion even with the nob turned up to the top. Gifted rolls out brilliantly too.
The designers haven’t bothered with lots of little extras like wireless connectivity or a DAB but there are several different connectors, and an FM radio, and you can take it outdoors with batteries bought separately. Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity would have been nice, but this thing was built for one thing, bass business, so you have to sacrifice some things.
Pros: Looks dangerous, makes noise. Should probably be locked in a cage!
Cons: Built-in rechargeable battery and Bluetooth would make this thing a truly portable filth cannon.

TEAC SR-80iDAB - RRP £149.99
Noticeably smaller than the Altec beast, it is also a bit more subtle on the eye and has little extra bits like USB playback and a built-in DAB radio, but will it provide enough sound for our BBQ? First impression is that it delivers a much bigger bite than its diminutive appearance might suggest, but before the volume is turned all the way up it is already struggling with the lower frequencies on Mooqee’s I Get High remix. Was slightly worried that Gifted might destroy the cute little fella, but the TEAC handles it pretty well, and you can get some really good noise out of it before it gets distorted, TEAC's Maxx Bass technology really helps this dock deliver. USB connectivity is also something that is unique to this dock in this comparison, allowing you to connect any USB Memory Device to play the MP3s stored on it.
Pros: Looks neat, DAB and extra connectivity options are a big bonus.
Cons: No in-built wireless connectivity, not the loudest dock on the day.

Philips Fidelio DS8550 - RRP £199
Beautifully simple design, just four buttons on the front and the 3in full range drivers hidden behind a curved facia and, what’s this? Tucked around the back are two little bass pipes that deliver more meatiness than their looks might at first suggest. Gifted sounds deep and tasty on this dock, but will distort if pushed too far. It is Watch Out that really showcases this model, not a crackle to be heard, even over Bluetooth. Little extras like AUX in connector means you can plug pretty much anything in. Bluetooth means you can control your tunes and flip burgers at the same time, without worrying about anyone fraping you whilst your phone sits on the dock! And add in a dedicated Philips Fidelio iPhone and iPad app and this dock becomes a serious contender.
Pros: Bluetooth connectivity and rechargeable battery. Looks smooth and delivers. Apple app.
Cons: A built-in DAB would have completed this.

Gear4 AirZone Aeries 1 - RRP £199.99
Neatly designed and with built-in FM radio and WiFi connectivity this little robot could be the surprise package. First up Say Yo Yo which it delivers pretty well, and the volume nob keeps turning and turning, kind of wondering when this thing will start to struggle. Ah, there it is, the first drop of American Woman and it’s not sounding too confident . . . a little bit worried that it may not survive the Ben and Lex monster! It actually does ok, but the depth of sound we’ve heard on some of the other docks is lacking, and it struggles a little.
Pros: Looks pretty bang tidy, AirZone technology means you can stream music over WiFi from your iPhone, iPad or iPod.
Cons: It just doesn’t have the trousers that the iMT810 had, so big, bad noises are a struggle.

Bose SoundDock Portable - RRP £349.99
Probably the best looking of the bunch, and almost certainly the smallest . . . it’s going to have to have something special in its locker to compete with the bigger boys! Gifted shuffles in first on the playlist, and with the big rolling opening sub bass I’m wondering where on earth all the sound is coming from in this little box, sounding good. Gifted drops . . . genuinely impressed, even turned it up a bit more! American Woman is kicked out crisply too, and Watch Out.
I kind of feel the little thing is showing off.
No extras though (Bluetooth, WiFi, DAB), Bose have clearly concentrated on sound quality.
Pros: Looks damn good, unimposing. Up there with the bigger boys in terms of noise. Rechargeable battery means you can unplug and carry off mid-tune.
Cons: No wireless connectivity, which is a big shame. The most expensive of the lot.

The best dock would be the mutated offspring of all five of these docks, having inherited:
- the portability of the Philips
- the volume of the Altec Lansing
- the sound quality of the Bose
- the extras of the TEAC
- the connectivity of the Gear4
but unfortunately that isn’t available, so you’ll have to take your pick based on what’s most important to you. Hope this has helped! Now grab some free music as featured in our Funk and Filth BBQ Playlist.

Lenny Kravitz – American Woman (Funkanomics Remix)
Sign up as a member at FOR FREE and get access to loads of Ghetto Funk free downloads, including this awesome American Woman remix.

Will Styles – Say Yo Yo – Right click here and ‘Save target as’ to download

Hostage - I Get High (Mooqee B-Breaks ReRub)

N.A.S.A. - Gifted (Masuka Remix)

Freestylers - Say Yes (Ben & Lex Remix)
Click here for free download

Doctor P & Elite Force - Watch Out (RVMPD)
Go to to download the entire RVAMPD2 album for free!

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