Sound System M
A high-end iPod dock with a price to match.
The Geneva Sound System M is an unimaginatively named hi-fi unit from Geneva Labs. It doesn’t look all that impressive, either: a squat black box with no screen to be seen. The Geneva comes to life, though, when it gets down to the business of playing music.
- Warm, enveloping sound, great bass
- Expensive, no USB input or screen
As integrated iPod dock sound systems go, the Geneva is far ahead of the pack despite missing out on a few creature comforts. If you can overlook the narrow soundstage and lack of screen, you might just be won over by the sound quality.
Price$ 1,749.00 (AUD)
The Geneva Sound System actually comes in three sizes. Because they’re such a renegade bunch, the folks at Geneva have decided to abandon the logical and reasonable course of referring to the three systems as Small, Medium and Large. Instead the systems are called the Medium, Large and Extra Large. We don’t know why they didn’t go all-out and call them the Large, Extra Large and Supreme, but we’re frankly more interested in the systems than their uninspiring names.
The Sound System M, which we tested, has four speakers — all built into the one cabinet and powered by a single 100 Watt amplifier. The enclosure also has a tuned port to allow for lower bass extension.
Built in to the top of the unit is a universal iPod dock which will happily connect to any Apple iPod with a dock connector. We tested it with the latest iPod touch (2nd Generation) and the iPhone 3G and it didn’t miss a beat (literally). There’s also a top-mounted, slot-loading CD player and an FM radio tuner. The CD player was a little difficult to get used to (especially not knowing which way the CD was meant to be inserted). With a little trial and error, though, the Sound System M quickly accepted the disc in the correct orientation and started playing. Make sure your music collection is in good condition, though — the Sound System M flat-out refused to play discs that had anything more than light scratching on them.
The system also has a 3.5mm headphone jack for connecting any other source with an analog output. We would have liked to see a digital input like optical or USB to increase the system’s versatility, but we can understand and appreciate the keep-it-simple philosophy.
Having only one cabinet means there are no messy cables to run apart from power and placement is easy. The Sound System M would look at home in a modern setting, with the choice of three striking colours — a classic black, a stark iPod white or lustrous red.
The sound quality from the Sound System M is impressive, especially considering that it’s competing with full-size speaker enclosures. It’s designed as a highly adjustable system with delicate bass and treble settings, so it’s easy to tailor to a particular musical style or room layout.
With music playing from the afore-mentioned iPod Touch, we were very impressed with the Sound System M’s ability to project sound to an uncannily wide soundstage. It certainly seemed as if there was more than one speaker in the room; although it wasn’t as discrete as a set of individual stereo speakers, the stereo imaging is far superior to other integrated iPod docks like Altec Lansing’s iM310 and Cygnett’s GrooveForce II.
Oddly enough, despite the size of the Sound System M it only has two 4in woofer drivers, which means lower bass response isn’t groundbreaking (excuse the pun). It’s still able to reproduce plenty of mid-bass, though, which somewhat makes up for the lower frequency hole.
Mid-range sounds were fantastically accurate and clear. The use of comparatively small woofers allows the Sound System M to have precise, quick mid-range, which becomes extremely evident when listening to vocal- and guitar-driven music.
Treble is also crisp and clear without being bright like cheaper systems. At lower volumes the treble became slightly overpowering when compared to mid-range and bass, but this is rectified at more normal listening volumes.
The Sound System M is able to be pushed to decently high volumes — easily enough to fill a medium-sized room. Even at full volume sound quality is high and frequencies are well balanced against each other. If you’re in need of an all-in-one iPod dock that actually has high quality sound, the Sound System M is a definite option if you can justify the price.
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