Monitor Audio has unveiled two new iPod/iPhone docks, the i-deck 100 and i-deck 200. If a £50 dock just won't cut it, this is a pair to check out.
The Monitor Audio i-deck 100 is the smaller of the two, dinky enough to use as a kitchen or bedside unit. However, it still knows how to pack-in speaker units. Behind its front grille are hidden two 2in bass drivers and two 19mm tweeters. This traditional hi-fi-style driver arrangement should hopefully supply the unit with a detailed-but-powerful sound. One step up is the i-deck 200. Aesthetically it's similar, but its body is larger, as are its drivers. It uses two 4in bass cones and a pair of 25mm tweeters.
Where most other manufacturers of docks are now intent on packing wireless Airplay streaming into their docks, Monitor Audio has kept its focus on one thing - sound quality. There's a built-in DAC (digital to analogue converter), bypassing the sub-audiophile circuitry of the iPod/iPhone. Your music source, whether it's an iPod or iPhone, is directly plugged into the dock socket on the front. Its floating design means there's no need for any converters here though. For non-iOS sound sources, the i-deck twins also offer a 3.5mm auxiliary input. They both come with remote controls.
Each of the drivers, both tweeters and bass cones, use a C-CAM metal design. This stands for Ceramic-Coated Aluminium/Magnesium - a big step up from the paper cones seen in budget iPod docks. C-CAM was originally designed for use within jet engines. The drivers also use their own class-D amplifiers, seen in top-end products like Philips's DS9800. Both docks employ Monitor Audio's BLM tech (Bass Level Management), which aims to keep the low end nice and powerful even when you're listening at low volumes. We'll find out whether it comes up with the goods in our full review.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of all here is the APC system. It stands for Automatic Position Correction, and uses a microphone to assess the layout of any room the i-deck dock is in. The dock fires out sound and the microphone effectively monitors the room's response to this sound. The i-deck then alters its output to suit the sonic personality of the room. This happens each time the system is turned on, so you don't even have to think about it.
Monitor Audio may have the audiophiles in the office slavering already, but we still don't know two very important details - the i-deck 100 and 200's prices. We can't imagine this level of quality will come cheap. We'll be back with full reviews, including the all-important price tags, soon.