The phrase ‘iPod dock’ covers a multitude of possibilities. There are the straight-and-simple units you plonk your ‘Pod on and hook into your hi-fi. Then there are the dock-and-speakers units, like this little beauty from Gear4, that also squeeze amplification and a pair of speakers into a single, compact unit.
The Houseparty II fits its two speakers under a single grill covering, giving the unit a sexy ‘wall-of-sound’ look. And these speakers are more than capable of pumping out a healthy swathe of sound: it goes loud, sounds punchy and exciting, and even manages to throw out a weighty amount of bass while keeping a reasonable grip on the overall tonal balance.
Unlike some docks, the Gear4 has a remote through which you can navigate and control all your iPod’s functions, so you don’t have to get up and fiddle with the ‘Pod’s thumbwheel while it’s docked – a fiddly process which tends to reduce a dock’s cool factor by several million.
It’s not all sonic roses
OK, it‘s not the cleanest or clearest-sounding system on the planet. Those looking for high fidelity may find it a bit of a blunt instrument: it has a slightly muffled quality, a thickness to the sound that causes vocals in particular to lose an edge of realism.
But this is a £70 system we’re talking about. The Houseparty II mostly comes up with the musical goods; throw in its compact dimensions and simple-yet-effective styling and it’ll become a favourite houseguest.