As much as we love the idea of wireless music, it often involves hassle. Most audio streamers – from ‘bridges’ like to Logitech’s Squeezebox to the Sonos system – are centred around liberating music from your computer, so usually require a PC to be constantly running or some fiddling with wireless networks and software.
Luckily, Griffin has a new, simpler solution called the Evolve. It looks like a standard iPod dock, but has one huge advantage over its mains-tethered brethren – truly wireless speakers. The idea is that you use the dock as a base station and just take the speakers to whichever room you fancy – no networks to setup, no PC and, theoretically, no hassle.
No setup required
The Evolve is ready to go right out of the box. The dock sits in the centre of the main unit, which serves as a kind of plinth. Either side are the cube-shaped speakers, which contain rechargeable batteries and cleverly get their charge via three connector pins on the base station.
This means that as soon as you want some music in a different part of the house or garden, you just lift one or both of the speakers from their cradles. It really is that simple – there’s no unplugging or disconnecting – and your iPod, sitting happily in its dock, will stream music to the speakers, wherever you are.There is, of course, a limit to how far you can take them – Belkin claimed about 150 feet, and our tests found that to be about right. Stay within that distance, and the signal stays strong and remarkably robust.
But how does it sound? Pretty good, particularly for a wireless system. The bass is strong but not overly present: where some dock systems over compensate and end up with bass that’s loud but lacking in articulation, the Evolve does a good job of knitting the sound of your tunes into a pleasingly coherent whole. Of course, it can’t match the B&W Griffin or Fatman iTube, but then those docks won’t be leaving your lounge cabinet.
When you live with the Evolve over a few days, it’s a pleasure to use. Griffin claims that two hours charging will give you ten hours wireless music, and we can certainly report that the speakers go for at least that. We found ourselves naturally returning them to the main unit before they’d come close to running out of power.
So if you’re the proud owner of an iPod, the Griffin Evolve is a pretty charming piece of kit. It sounds good for the money and you get all the benefits of wireless music with none of the complications. Even if you only plan to wheel it out at barbecues as a back-up to your main hi-fi, it’s hard to resist.