In front of the dock are two touch sensitive buttons labelled plus and minus for controlling volume. The supplied remote control is a typically Apple masterpiece. The control is about the size of a Shuffle and simply contains the Play/Pause in the centre, with the skip tracks on the side and volume up and down above and below. When a command from the remote is accepted a small green light at the front of the unit confirms the command or shows a red light if it canâ€™t do it at that time.
The remote is exactly the same as supplied with iMacs with Front Row and as such it has a button labelled â€˜Menuâ€™. However, it doesnâ€™t do anything when you press it when itâ€™s plugged into the speakers so its presence is rather redundant. If was rather surprised that Apple hadnâ€™t provided a slot on the speakers themselves to house the remote when not in use, as Altec Lansing and Acoustic Authority have.
When you plug an iPod nano or an iPod with video though, a Speaker menu then becomes available on the iPod. From here you can add more treble or bass. Thereâ€™s also a â€˜Large Album Artâ€™ option full screen mode for album art, which puts a black background behind the album art and makes it full screen. This is a neat option but why Apple chooses to only make it available when you plug it into its speakers is a mystery.
The grille at the front of the speakers can be removed and when it is it exposes the three drivers and two ports. There are two 80mm wide-range speakers and one 130mm woofer, which are significantly larger than the cones in the other sets on test. The unit is also a lot deeper than most other iPod speakers and while companies like Bose make a big noise about getting a lot of sound out of smaller boxes thereâ€™s no getting away from the laws of physics â€“ larger speakers will mean a larger sound, and thatâ€™s certainly true here. If you want to play your music loud or you want to fill a room with sound, the Apple speakers are the way to go. If you want loud, the Apple speakers will give you full-on, annoy the neighbours loud.