On Wednesday the Aurb proved not all speaker docks are boring. It seems to have started a trend...
GenevaSound's Model S may go about its business in a completely different way to TEAC's bombastic sensation, but it is no less impressive. Where the Aurb is a curvy attention grabber the Model S is a mathematician's lesson in right angles. At just 235 x 176 x 156mm (without stand, 220mm with) and 3.175Kg it makes little impression, until you switch it on.
Doing this is satisfying in itself. You see the initial wow factor of the Model S is based on its swanky touch sensitive controls (see image below). Positioned across the top are a semi-circular indent that acts as the power switch along with the playback buttons, but what is particularly cool is the circular strip below them which works much like an iPod click wheel. It doesn't depress like a click wheel to play/pause, skip tracks, etc but it will adjust the volume and navigate menus with the 'Menu' button performing the same back functionality it does on an iPod with 'Ok' acting as select.
There's an argument that doing this on your connected iPod/iPhone is faster, but it's hard to deny the cool factor and - given it lights up in the dark - its convenience and more comfortable operational angle. Furthermore when you switch to iPod mode the dock automatically rotates open. The practical aspect is that when switched off it protects against dust and makes cleaning a breeze while leaving a neater aesthetic.
All of which builds up tremendous sonic expectations. Does it live up to them? Yes, but it does depend on how you like your music.
Rather than appeal to bass heads GenevaSound has targeted accuracy and clarity. For earphone aficionados think Etymotic, not V-Moda. The result is some gloriously crisp reproduction with the ability to pick out individual instruments and really enjoy different musical arrangements. This is wonderfully illustrated in the guitar work of Elliott Smith and is precise enough to pick apart the layers from 'soundscape' bands like Mogwai, Sigur Ros, Mono and This Will Destroy You. The innovative tinkering of Atlas Sound is another example of a band designed for GenevaSound's exacting ear. Where things becomes more problematic, however, is rock and dance.