Review Price £219.95
TEAC Aurb SR-100i
Speaker docks are boring. No, let me revise that statement, most speaker docks are boring...
The 'Aurb' (pronounced 'Orb') from TEAC is something rather different. Its dramatic appearance (570 x 230 x 220mm, 5.4Kg) is part Meridian F80, part B&W Zeppelin and part space alien. In fact in its price bracket I can't remember seeing a dock which makes such a dramatic appearance. For the style conscious this will make it a must have/must avoid in its own right.
Thankfully, however, the Aurb makes more than a striking superficial impression. Functionality is good with iPod (playback and charge), CD, FM tuner, USB and auxiliary modes and on paper there's power aplenty: a 2x 50 watt amplifier (with Bass-reflex port) and speakers with a 32mm tweeter and 89mm mid/bass drivers - above what you'd expect in this upper midrange sector. Disappointments include the lack of DAB (scrappage scheme or not) and limited codec support of MP3 and WMA from USB devices (surely AAC could've been accommodated?).
An arguably bigger upside is that - despite iPhone warnings to the contrary - the Aurb suffers no handset interference, meaning no "beep-be-beep" interruptions. TEAC doesn't list the Aurb as having magnetic shielding, but rest safe in the knowledge this is one of the few docks which won't have you jumping out your chair every time a call comes in.
Also worth mentioning is the remote. A criminally overlooked element for many docks, the remote with the Aurb cleverly continues the styling influence of the main unit being shaped in an elongated oval which makes it look good while also feeling comfortable in hand regardless of which button you're stretching for. The play/pause button could have been made a little more obvious, but operation will become instinctive in no time. Given the throwaway rubbish that is supplied with similarly priced docks like the Bose SoundDock Portable it's a welcome bonus.
Still, enough prissy footing around. It's a speaker dock, what does it sound like...?
As with all audio product reviews, first the caveat emptor: sound is a hugely personal thing. You pesky kids may be bass heads, obsessed with accuracy or simply want something LOUD! The good news: the Aurb should have something for all of you.
It's not perfect. There is noticeable distortion towards maximum volume and sound can become muddy at times - but in general feed the Aurb decent quality content (MP3 of over 256kbps or CDs) and you'll find it both warm and engaging with enough bass to satisfy anyone looking in this price bracket. What did we feed it?