Review Price £549.00
Once again we're in the Matrix. Depending on your musical tastes the Model M will either blow your mind or send you to sleep. The company has a sound signature that is crafted towards accuracy and clarity rather than bass booming, adrenaline soaked emotion. If you're a fan of classical music, jazz or like your music 'unplugged' then you'll be thrilled by the precision of the M. It has the ability to pick apart arrangements and project them with delightful balance around the room.
On the flip side, bass heads need not apply. If you listen regularly to big beat artists like The Prodigy or The Beastie Boys, prefer your drum beats heavy and your dance tracks thumping, this isn't the dock for you. Heavy metal fans also need not apply. Audio is projected with a sense of restraint, as if the M is too sophisticated for such base desires (pun very much intended). I'm not implying the Model M is bad when outputting these styles, it isn't, but at this price range there are better alternatives.
Consequently we are presented with something of a dichotomy: like the Model S, the M has refinement in spades and it is significantly louder, but given the type of music it suits best we have to question if the extra volume is really necessary? We don't wish to stereotype listeners, but you rarely hear of people head banging to Mozart or Elliott Smith. And when was the last time you shouted at your neighbours: "Will you turn that Al Johnson down?!"
Having said a dock lives and dies by its sound quality let's backtrack a little because when you're spending north of £500 it is acceptable to expect a few extras. After all B&W packed the Zeppelin Air with Airplay and Arcam somehow jammed Kleer lossless streaming, HD video output, a battery capable of lasting up to eight hours and pairing into the 200 x 200 x 200mm, 5Kg frame of its rCube. So what about the Model M?
You get an FM radio. Yes it may cost £50 more than B&W and Arcam's offerings, but there's no native streaming, no inbuilt battery and no pairing Model M's together. Streaming requires third party accessories, like any other dock. Purists may argue such functionality isn't really important, but it is impossible to deny their benefits. For the record there is a Model M available which accepts CDs, but this is a whopping £799.
Maybe it wasn't déjà vu after all. While GenevaSound has essentially made a bigger version of the Model S, both in terms of design and sound signature, the enlargement doesn't work as well. The niche sound and quieter output of the S was compensated for by beautiful construction, some neat touches and a reasonable RRP. By contrast the Model M's signature doesn't benefit greatly from the extra volume, it has inferior build quality and actually loses features for a substantially higher price. Bigger isn't always better.
Compared to its rivals, the M lacks the window shaking drive and functionality of the Zeppelin Air and the all round acoustic expertise, portability and functionality of the Arcam rCube. What's more the Model M is £50 more expensive than both of them. Despite all this it is important to say GenevaSound has not made a bad dock and the M impresses in isolation, particularly when playing to its strengths. Unfortunately put it in a head to head situation and harsh reality is the competition has moved on.
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality