The Onkyo DS-A5 is a Wi-Fi-equipped iPod, iPhone and iPad dock that brings AirPlay wireless music streaming to any sound system. It’s primarily designed for use with Onkyo AV receivers and stereo amps, but thanks to the digital and analogue outputs it’ll work with any audio setup. It’s ideal for those with older audio kit lacking modern-day trappings like USB ports and built-in network connectivity.
The DS-A5 measures 121mm wide by 136mm deep, making it small, discreet and easy to place on top of your AV amp or hi-fi system. It’s styled in black, with rounded corners making it a little bit more elegant than a straight black box.
On top of the unit, you’ll find the iPod/iPhone/iPad 30-pin connector at the front (you'll need a Lightning adapter if you want to dock an iPhone 5), with a curved support directly behind it that props up the device. We tried an iPad and iPhone 4S and both feel suitably secure while docked. A Wi-Fi antenna is found on the right-hand side. Build quality is good – the dock has a decent heft when held in the hand, although the gloss-black plastic around the edges is a little on the plasticky side.
On the back of the DS-A5 is a row of sockets. These include an Ethernet port, a wired alternative to the built in Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) adapter, alongside analogue stereo and optical digital outputs, which you can connect to any sound system. There’s also a composite video output, which allows you to view videos and photos from docked devices, albeit in grotty standard definition.
Last but not least is Onkyo’s Remote Interactive (RI) connection, which allows you to hook up the DS-A5 to a compatible Onkyo amp or receiver and control it using your main Onkyo remote. When connected, it opens up other functions like the ‘auto power on’ mode, which wakes up your amp from standby when you turn on the DS-A5. When you turn your amp on or off, the dock can be set to do the same, and when you start playing music through the dock, the Direct Change function switches your amp to the relevant input. RI also allows you to use the sleep timer too.
Features-wise, built-in Wi-Fi and AirPlay are the clear highlights. Their inclusion allows you to link the DS-A5 to your home network (we’ll explain how on the next page) and beam tunes directly from any Apple device to your sound system wirelessly, or play songs from a PC or Mac running iTunes. Alternatively you can dock your iPhone, iPad or iPod on the unit and play music, with the added bonus that it’ll charge your device at the same time.