Gadgets audyssey_airplay_les

Published on June 10th, 2012 | by Greg


Audyssey Audio Dock Air: Loud, Brash, Wireless

Have a re­cent iOS de­vice and a wire­less router? If you’re read­ing this, chances are that you do- whether it’s an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. And most ev­ery­one us­es their de­vices for mu­sic at some point or an­oth­er- at a par­ty or on the go, but per­haps less rarely at home. Do you use iTunes on your Mac or PC? Then you’re al­so ready for Air­play- Ap­ple’s stream­ing au­dio tech­nol­o­gy that al­lows you to take your mu­sic and share it across your house.

One of the new­er Air­play sys­tems is the Au­dyssey Au­dio Dock Air. We’ve seen sev­er­al of their oth­er au­dio prod­ucts be­fore- like their pret­ty nifty com­put­er speak­ers- and this sys­tem fits in­to their de­sign phi­los­o­phy- ur­ban, sleek, a bit on the ex­pen­sive side, but of­fer­ing pret­ty so­phis­ti­cat­ed dig­i­tal pro­cess­ing tech­nol­o­gy.

We’ll start with the high­lights: the com­pact size and im­pres­sive pow­er, for starters. The fair­ly mono­lith­ic unit is on fair­ly heavy, which isn’t a bad thing- this means that you’re get­ting some re­al pow­er. Some Air­play docks sac­ri­fice sound for porta­bil­i­ty; Au­dyssey has opt­ed to re­quire AC pow­er and skip the bat­ter­ies, which leads to vol­ume and fre­quen­cy re­spons­es that sur­prised us. The de­sign is a bit odd- two tweet­ers, du­al midrange woofers, and a pair of pas­sive (not ac­tive) bass ra­di­a­tors point to the sides, which means that your room will cer­tain­ly fill with sound but au­dio­philes will be a bit frus­trat­ed with try­ing to op­ti­mize place­ment. Set­up is al­so un­usu­al, but in a good way- in­stead of re­quir­ing an eth­er­net ca­ble or the like, the sys­tem broad­casts its own wire­less net­work and once con­nect­ed to it, you re-con­fig­ure it with a web brows­er.

Blue­tooth au­dio de­vices can suf­fer from their own con­nec­tion is­sues; we’ve def­i­nite­ly ex­pe­ri­enced some prob­lems with Air­play, even in oth­er high-end docks like the Zep­pelin Air. The same is­sues held true here- some drop-outs and an oc­ca­sion­al re­quired pow­er cy­cle that seemed to clear things up for a while. We test­ed on a va­ri­ety of iOS de­vices, pri­mar­i­ly run­ning iOS 5.0.1 and 5.1.1 or iTunes 10.6.1, and run­ning through two dif­fer­ent 802.11n routers to at­tempt and re­move that fac­tor (routers can in fact be the cul­prit for some Air­play is­sues it ap­pears). One def­i­nite odd­i­ty here is that the “dock” doesn’t ac­tu­al­ly of­fer a dock of any kind- pret­ty un­usu­al. Air­play does of­fer greater range than Blue­tooth, and in our opin­ion, bet­ter over­all au­dio per­for­mance as well- plus, you can use mul­ti­ple speak­ers at a time, con­nect­ing up to four of these docks to­geth­er in dif­fer­ent rooms or ar­eas.

There were no ma­jor prob­lems, but the oc­ca­sion­al stream­ing trou­bles, com­bined with au­dio qual­i­ty that was less than stel­lar, meant we weren’t blown away. Sound just wasn’t pre­cise or warm, and lost some of the depth we want on a fair­ly ex­pen­sive piece of gear- tracks like Novo­caine for the Soul by The Eels, for in­stance, lost quite a bit and seemed flat. Some of the fea­tures feel like af­terthoughts: who is like­ly to use a head­phone jack? We liked the in­clu­sion of the stan­dard 3.5mm in­put for those who don’t have iOS de­vices, but there is un­for­tu­nate­ly no re­mote.  Over­all, the Au­dyssey Au­dio Dock Air is a bit ex­pen­sive- at press time, prices on­line were in around $350, which didn’t quite feel worth it for the sys­tem.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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