There must be a glitch in the Matrix because we're experiencing an extreme case of déjà vu. In October we reviewed GenevaSound's excellent Model S and now the company has released the updated 'Model M', the midrange offering in a product line of S, M, L and XL docks. We liked the Model S so déjà vu must be a good thing, right? Sadly it is more complicated than that.
Our sense of familiarity kicked in the moment we took the Model M out of its box. From almost all angles it looks indistinguishable from the Model S. It has the same minimalistic styling and angular corners, the same circular bulge in its speaker mesh and even the same LED display blinking through it to indicate the input source or (in standby) the time. The design provokes something of a Marmite love it/hate it response – one comment was it looks like the Model S's box! - but it is hard to criticise the consistency in GenevaSound's Russian Doll product line.
That said where the two products do differ, surprisingly it is the Model M which lets the side down. One of the coolest features of the S is its motorised dock lid which automatically opens and closes to reveal the dock connector when the iPod source is selected/deselected. We could live without a feature that was primarily for bling, but the manual flip top lid on the M feels cheap and it is a strange omission given the S (£299) is substantially cheaper than its bigger brother.
And bigger it is. At 200 x 370 x 250mm the M could easily be the aforementioned box for the S, but at 7.3Kg it certainly won't be mistaken for it. Unlike the flawless finish of the S, the M also revealed the metallic base colour of its speaker grid on corners exposing a lacklustre paintjob. This could be a one-off flaw on our sample, but inspect judiciously.
Superficialities aside an iPod dock lives or dies on its sound quality and on paper the Model M looks up to the task. GenevaSound claims a frequency range of 47Hz to 20kHz and squeezed inside its chunky frame are 4x 25W Class D digital amplifiers (individually housed in dedicated chambers), two full range 4in woofers and two 1in tweeters. In real world use the M is comfortably loud enough to be the hub of a house party – albeit not quite in the window shaking style of the something like the Zeppelin Air.
So what about the sound itself?