Review Price £299.99
The Bayan Audio Bayan 7 has five drivers - two 1in tweeters, two 2in mid-range drivers and the giant 8in bass cone. It uses dual amplifiers with 120W power in total. The subwoofer gets 60W to itself while the stereo pair get 30W a piece.
It's not hard to peg the sonic strategy of the Bayan 7 from a quick glance. It's a 250 x 250 x 300mm subwoofer with a selection of other drivers jammed-in to fill in the missing bits of the frequency spectrum. This 2.1 design is very common in larger iPod docks, but it's approached more aggressively than usual here.
The 8in bass driver is much larger than the 5in cone of the B&W Zeppelin - itself recognised as a fairly bass-centric setup - and, commendably, this 8in monster is given a proper speaker cabinet. Extending 30cm deep and 12mm thick, you could mistake the central part of the Bayan 7 for a budget home cinema sub.
We found that using the default setting, the bass favouritism had a slight negative impact on sound. Although not seriously boomy like the earlier iterations of the Orbitsound Soundbar, its keen sub needs a little taming before something approaching a balanced sound is attained. Thankfully, it's not hard to do.
The remote control offers bass and treble settings, as well as Music and Voice presets - Voice rips out much of the low-end to improve spoken-word clarity and presence. There's no screen to tell you what level each is currently at, so you have to rely on the little indicator light atop the unit, which doubles as a touch-sensitive power button. It turns white instead of blue when you're in Voice mode, and flashes each time you alter bass and treble settings. Once you're at the maximum or minimum of each, it'll stop flashing. You have to trust your ears here, but like its feature-lite approach, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Given a slight tweak of the bass, we were able to sculpt a warm, detailed and powerful sound out of the Bayan 7, one worthy of its hefty price. In a head-to-head with the Zeppelin Air and Arcam rCube, we found that the Bayan was the least insightful of the trio, but crucially they were comparable. In the dinner party of £300 iPhone docks, it's not the most refined of guests, but it's not woefully out of place either.
Having an 8in sub driver to call upon comes with benefits too. Few iPod docks can get a party rocking like a Bayan 7, and it's capable of volumes most docks either simply can't reach or struggle to reach, often resulting in a harsh sound. However, it's not invulnerable. Up the bass a few notches and feed it some bass-heavy tracks and you will hear some low-end distortion. And for ultra, mega, uber bass heads, the 30Hz minimum frequency may not quite extend far enough to satisfy all your bass needs, but it comes pretty close.
For those wanting an iPod dock to add some spice to a living room and provide soothing tunes, we'd pick the B&W Zeppelin or Philips Fidelio DS9000 over the Bayan 7. Both still cost a little more, but are frankly a lot more attractive and have a little more sonic class. However, if you also want to sometimes get the walls shaking for a house party, the 8in sub driver and reasonable pricing make the Bayan a fairly attractive option.
A quick look at the Bayan 7 is telling. Its great big 8in sub driver commands centre stage, a position that it holds sonically too. However, unlike some bassy iPod docks, it retains decent sonic balance, especially following a tweak with the simple-but-powerful equalisation. Its particular skills are wasted if you're only going to feed it polite music at polite volumes, though.
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