Podspeakers Micropod and Dock review

20 Jan 2007

I felt it was time I wrote a proper review of my Micropod Speakers, particularly as there doesn’t seem to be much written about them on the interwebs (In particular, they haven’t been covered by iLounge).

Specs and Sound

Sold as a set (but also available separately) comprising of ‘The Dock’ and 2 Micropod SE Speakers. ‘The Dock’ is a combined iPod dock (with inserts for all dock connector models) and amplifier (two 15w Class T amplifers to be precise). At the back are 4 bare wire & banana plug (which is superior apparently!) connections for the speakers, as well as a line out to attach a subwoofer. The Micropod speakers come with what Scandyna call ‘Sputnik Spikes’ as stands, but they can be used without (if you get some rubber feet) or even wall-mounted. You also get speakers cables and a basic remote control.

When you first pop your iPod in and play, the sound fades in smoothly – a nice touch. The sound is wonderful – bright, clear and crisp across all ranges, but doesn’t allow for Bass & Treble adjustment, presumably using the dynamic approach used by the Bose SoundDock. Playing music through these speakers reveals previously unheard parts of the music, and even compressed mp3s sound good. While you can get a Minibass or Microsub subwoofer to go with this setup, but chances are that you won’t need one as the bass is well served.

Design

The first thing you notice when you unpack the speakers and dock is the build quality. Solid, weighty, refined and smooth. Normally, I would advocate ‘Black = Cool”, but the white podspeakers option is a subtle creamy off-white (you can’t really tell from the photographs), that gives them almost a ceramic look. I also like the contrast of the creamy white with the black speaker rings.

JBL aside, dedicated iPod speaker manufacturers have tended towards very square designs, the most extreme example being the couldn’t-be-more-sharp-cornered-if-it-tried Logitech Audiostation. While JBL produce more rounded designs, they do tend towards a Darth Vader helmet look, whereas Podspeakers are much more natural/organic, with their mollusc-esque curves. They just look superb.

The downside

A minor quibble is that the ability to input an extra audio source would’ve been preferred, and video out better still. Their newly launched ‘V Dock’ offers all this, but it’s too new to find anywhere outside of Switzerland at the moment, and the price is yet to be announced (I’ve been quoted £200 by one shop!). I’m sure that once the V Dock gets proper distribution, they will be sold with Micropod Speakers as reasonably priced set.

However, a more major grumble is that with the speakers and dock oozing such quality, it seems odd that Scandyna chose to throw such a crappy looking remote. The plastic is the cheap textured kind, and controls are just a ‘pop dome’ type with a grey/silver sticker overlay. With so much thought and effort going into the speaker and dock design, it feels like too much of an afterthought, it can’t possibly have been created by the same team. It doesn’t let you rewind or fast forward, but it does mute, play/pause, skip, power on/off are. Harumph. The Apple Remote uses a high gloss plastic that feels much more at home with the podspeakers.

Conclusion

Once the V Dock is bundled rather than the standard dock, and the remote is given an overhaul, it would get a 5. As it is, these niggles aren’t enough to take away from the fact that these are superb (dare I foolishly use the word ‘audiophile’) speakers that look like design musuem exhibits. The sound and design of the Micropod and Dock is so good, that other choices look a bit bland in comparison.

I do highly recommend these speakers, but if you’re interested, I’d advise you to wait until Scandyna start shipping a set with the ‘V Dock’ instead of ‘The Dock’. Buying these elements separately would be much more expensive. The other option would be to get the Micropod SE Active speakers (which contain there own amplifier) and attach a Apple Remote & Dock into that. While the design won’t match exactly, it would be an opportunity to get a much better remote.

What I’ve decided to do is marry a pair of Micropod Speakers with a Denon micro hifi & dock, so that it can properly serve as a complete replacement for the old stereo. In the end, Leigh and I just couldn’t do without a radio, but would’ve waited for the V Dock otherwise.

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