Absolute 3D also appeared in the IPT-223 and it works using wave field synthesis (WFS) which gives the impression of audio originating from different places around the room to mimic surround sound. A further benefit of this approach is it claims to eliminate the need for a positional sweet spot with audio sounding equally good from all locations due to this sonic ventriloquism. A similar process is used in Orbitsound's impressive T9 and T12 sound bars.
So does it all come together? Yes and no. On the plus side Absolute 3D works well. The unit may be small at 350 x 210 x 130mm and 3.5Kg, but it does an impressive job of throwing out audio around a room making it a delight for tracks with strong stereo separation such as Radiohead's Street Spirit (Fade Out). The pleasant side effect of this is volume doesn't need to be as loud meaning the 65W output isn't too lacking despite the presence of similar sized 200W docks like the Audyssey South of Market.
The trouble is Sonic Emotion doesn't paper over cracks inherent in the drivers. Bass and treble can be adjusted on both the top of the dock and the (rather cheaply constructed remote control), but where the IPD-9000 primarily falls short is midrange giving audio a rather hollow sound that the virtual surround sound alleviates but cannot completely eradicate. When cranked up to full volume distortion also creeps in, but the bass-focused signature at all other listening volumes is crowd pleasing.
All of which means the IPD-9000 has promise, but needs to be keenly priced. The £229 RRP is reasonable in isolation but, as ever, the trouble for any dock daring to cost more than £200 is the bargaintastic Monitor Audio i-deck 200. This 140W 2.2 dual speaker, dual sub dock with integrated DAC and automatic positional configuration easily bests the IPD-2000 sonically (as it does most things below £500) and its greatest shortcoming - no wireless connectivity - is not exploited by Lenco.
As such while we want to like the IPD-9000 and see it as a step in the right direction - both in terms of audio quality and design - it really needs to be priced under £200 to get our juices flowing.
The IPD-9000 is an attractive dock which is a showcase for the potential of virtual surround sound, but this cannot mask shortcomings in its midrange and a fairly low maximum volume. Furthermore features like a CD player, FM tuner and composite video output fail to hide the big omission of wireless connectivity. Pricing is reasonable, but stumbles too close to heavyweight rival the Monitor Audio i-deck 200 and consequently it is a case of close, but no cigar.