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There are plenty of tracks where this setup really works. Not many docks I've heard have put out a better rendition of Radiohead's "How to Disappear Completely...", while Ladyhawke's "From Dusk 'til Dawn" is pumped out in true floor-filling style. As the iTeufel is a German system I felt sure that it would enjoy a spot of Wagner, and sure enough the funeral music from Gotterdammerung sounded borderline spectacular, the high brass notes blasting out with the kind of godlike strength that makes mortals tremble before thinking seriously about purchasing a new BMW. "The Bones of You", from Elbow's The Seldom Seen Kid was another treat, each instrument in the mix handled with the sort of poise and definition I might expect from a more conventional Hi-Fi system.
But the iTeufel has one serious weakness, and that's a muffled, tired and less-than-crystalline mid-range. More intimate, acoustic tracks with softer vocals fall flat. Thick, heavyweight guitar riffs fail, time and time again, to make any impression. Existing owners of BMWs would not be impressed by the iTeufel's performance of Ride of the Valkyries, as the hard-edged, high strings completely overpower the brass section carrying the famous melody. It should be stirring, but instead it just sounds manic. In short, the iTeufel is a great sounding speaker dock when the material plays to its strengths, but it's simply not a brilliant all-rounder. And when it fails, it suddenly sounds like just another boxy iPod speaker dock.
While I'm moaning I also ought to mention that the mesh on my test sample resonated in harmony to some particular notes (most notably, the root note in the hard-strummed chords that run throughout Bon Iver's "Blindsided"). This might just be a fault of my sample, but if it isn't it's a bit of an annoyance.
So, again we have a very promising high-end speaker dock that falls apart on overall sound quality. Below £100 we could be, and are, a lot more forgiving, but at nearly £250 for what is - compared to its rivals - a distinctly no-frills system, the iTeufel doesn't sound consistently good enough to make me recommend that you rush out and buy it. If Teufel can tweak the mid-range and fix the compatibility issues then there's still a chance for this much-admired German audio specialist to make its mark on the iPod market, but it's going to take something a little bit more refined than this.
Given the quality of Teufel's recent home cinema products the iTeufel is slightly disappointing. The output can be excellent, but not consistently enough for a recommendation.
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality