An add-on for your existing hi-fi system rather than a self-contained iPod speaker dock, the IS301 delivers something pretty unique: the ability to carry your iPod around your house and still listen to music through your ‘proper’ music setup.
Cut the cables
How’s it all done? Via A2DP stereo Bluetooth, of course – your iPod slips into a small, lightweight handset that communicates wirelessly with a receiver station.
This receiver is, in turn, hooked up to a hi-fi with a pair of standard stereo phono cables. If you have a Marantz amp, a D-bus control cable allows you to adjust the volume or switch your whole system off using the IS301’s remote or handset.
There’s one more component to the system: a base station that holds the handset when it’s not in use, and will charge your iPod to boot. This can be sat on a shelf or mounted on the wall.
So how does the dock perform? Well, the Bluetooth connection generally works slickly, allowing you to carry the handset around 10 metres away from the receiver before cutting out.
Review continues after the break...
On the downside, walls and other wireless kit in your home can interfere with the signal strength. And we found that removing the handset from the base station while listening to music can chop the connection for a few seconds. It was quickly restored with newer iPod models, but took around 10 seconds to re-pair with an iPod Mini – not really ideal.
If you want to avoid these wireless quirks you can hook up the base station to the receiver via a pair of CAT-5 cables and keep the handset mounted on the base station, but that adds clutter and pretty much negates the uniqueness of the IS301.
Clear and crisp audio
Sound quality is clear and crisp, but exactly how ear-poppingly brilliant it is will be determined by the quality of the hi-fi you’ve connected to the base station.
Overall, the IS301 works well and provides something unique. It is a bit on the expensive side, though, and doesn’t seem to perform as slickly with older model iPods as we’d like.