The audio’s appeal comes from two main areas. First, there’s its raw power. We hadn’t anticipated being able to get much 'realistic' volume out of the Dock, but in fact we were able to keep cranking it up and cranking it up until frankly our ears were giving way before the Dock’s speakers did.
Distortion levels increased a little at the sort of volume you’d need to fill a very large kitchen or conservatory for a noisy party, but not to a truly serious degree.
The other striking thing about the Conran Audio Speaker Dock’s sound is how clear it is. There’s a level of detail to proceedings that adds layers to the sound and really brings your music to life in a way you might not have thought possible given that you’ll likely be playing heavily compressed audio from iTunes.
The clarity doesn’t mean, though, that there’s anything over-clinical about the Dock’s sound; in fact it enjoys a quite warm tone, especially at low to mid volume levels, that lends itself particularly well to classical music.
Don’t take this to mean that the Conran Speaker Audio Dock’s pretty little body can’t get dirty when you want it to, though. The different EQ modes appear to have been specifically tuned to the Dock’s audio properties rather than just ported in there from some other device, meaning that the Rock and Pop modes, in particular, really add bite/bounce respectively to their target music types.
Helping create the sense of detail mentioned earlier is the surprising amount of dynamic range the speakers can achieve, with reasonably potent bass lines resting comfortably and cohesively with the treble register - and without overwhelming any mid-range vocals.
We should make it clear here that the Conran Audio Dock doesn’t deliver the same sort of audio dynamism as the real sound quality stars of the iPod dock firmament, such as B&W’s Zeppelins, Arcam’s rCube, and the B&O BeoSound 8. Plus it also sounds a touch 'mono' with its sound stage, failing to deliver the sense of stereo width that the best docks manage.
But so far as we’re concerned this is all very forgivable in the context of the Conran Audio Speaker Dock’s £249 price, especially when you consider what an iconic design you’re getting for so little money.
Had the Conran Audio Speaker Dock been pitched at the £400-£500 price level where designer docks usually tend to hang out, we’d probably have felt it was a likeable enough effort but too short of features and that nth degree of audio quality to be really easy to recommend.
At £249, though, for any Apple fan after a chic, simple and surprisingly easy on the ear way of breaking out the music stored on their iDevices, the Conran Audio Speaker Dock is definitely worth considering.