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Philips DS3020 - Sound Quality, App and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams


  • Recommended by TR
Philips Fidelio DS3020


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Review Price £49.97

The Philips DS3020 dock's Fidelio iOS app doesn't add any features to the dock directly, but does do so through your iPhone or iPod Touch. It offers a clock, alarms, weather and Internet radio. You'll need to download TuneIn Radio to use the latter though, as it helps to power the Fidelio app.

It doesn't do much that you could get from any number of non-Philips apps, and is unremarkable in the things it does do, but it does offer one very neat addition. You can choose whether to make the dock charge the iOS device or not - in a mains-only unit that's a somewhat pointless question (unless you're obsessed with maintaining the lifespan of your battery), but it's more useful in a potentially battery-powered unit. Fidelio app

The Philips DS3020 is small and in some ways very clever. But does it sound any good?

It absolutely does. This tiddly, pretty cheap dock offers much better sound quality than we expected, making it a near-perfect bedroom or secondary dock.

Fidelio back

It uses a pair of Neodynium speakers, as seen in the older DS3000, but boasts slightly more power - 10w RMS against 8W. Although still tiny, it produces sound of impressive power and detail. The low-end is surprisingly powerful - with bass that, while not particularly deep or resonant, packs a meaty punch.

To provide you with some tunes while cooking, working or doing a spot of DIY (outside or in), the Philips DS3020 is wonderful. If you want it to replace a hi-fi, you're asking a bit too much, but would anyone seriously expect that from a dock with a base not much bigger than the footprint of a couple of Coke cans?

Remarkably, it holds onto its sonic dignity even as its little speakers are pushed hard, only sounding strained when pushed close to its limits. Naturally, it can't compete with larger, more expensive units like the Fidelio DS9 on volume, scale or sound quality, but it can nevertheless produce enough volume to fill small or medium-sized rooms.

High-end detail impresses too, offering fairly natural-sounding full-throated vocal reproduction for £50. The Philips DS3020 performs out of its size and price league across the board. And it hasn't even sacrificed looks to get there.

Head to the high street and you'll find plenty of docks selling around £50, from names like Gear4 and Kitsound. However, we're yet to come across one that offers as attractive a mixture of design and sound quality as the Fidelio DS3020 has. It's a steal.


It looks good. It sounds good. It won't leave a gaping hole in your bank balance. If there's something to dislike about the Philips DS3020, we're yet to find it. Bigger, more expensive docks in the Fidelio range will naturally offer better sound quality but if you want something small this is a brilliant device.

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August 1, 2011, 11:49 pm

How does this compare to the Sony SRSGU10IP speaker dock in terms of sound quality? Both can be had for £50, the Sony is slightly bigger (but still ok for a bedside table) and has 20w power. I bought the Sony last week, but my daughter wants a dock now, and so it will be something in the £50 range like this, an iPig, or such like.


August 2, 2011, 2:26 pm

Hi ChrisC,

We haven't had that model in sadly - but judging by the other Sony docks we've had in recently, there's a good chance the Fidelio might edge it. The Fidelio looks great on a shelf/bedside cabinet too.


August 2, 2011, 4:57 pm

I bought the bigger brother of this dock, the DS8500 and I just thought I'd bring up some issues that may plague this model.

Whilst the sound quality was fantastic, when an iPhone 4 was plugged in, the unit made a crackling/popping noise when playing music (only noticable with quiet/classical/vocal music). But still terribly annoying. This did not occur with an iPhone 3g or other players using the AUX-In. With the iPhone 4 plugged in via AUX, it sounded like my music was being played underwater.

For those that think it might have been a problem with my iPhone, I went to the apple store and tried a multitude of docks from low to high end, and no issues.

The Fidelio App. If you choose not to install it on your iPhone, it prompts you every single time to do so. Additionally the sound is terrible without the equalizers set (which is done without the app automatically) yet only configurable once inside the app.

Once inside the app, if you turn off all the adjustments the sound is very weak.

These issues meant I had to return the unit as whilst the sound quality was astounding for the price (better than a bose sound dock) Philips often designs excellent products with some major flaws. A Philips SAD light I own for example, has an off switch to turn off the radio, but not the light. And requires resetting every night as opposed to automatically performing this function.


August 2, 2011, 5:05 pm

Sorry to hear that! We had the DS9 in recently and that didn't seem to have any problems (It was mostly tested with an iPod Classic/iPod Touch 2nd gen), so perhaps they've fixed a few issues. The DS8500 is still the Fidelio model I see most commonly out on the high street though.

I have a Philips SAD light too. Not had any problems with that but I bet the bulb will go at some point.


August 2, 2011, 9:59 pm

AndrewTR - The bulb is exactly the type of design flaw that Philips either builds into their products intentionally (planned obsolescence) or overlook when engineering new products. Funnily it's always the simple issues that are overlooked.

With my SAD light it's an issue that the designers didn't think that when the user turns off the alarm/radio after waking up, they want the light off too. But they turn that into two separate functions. Plus the snooze/off lever is one of the more befuddling design/function decisions I've seen in modern electronics. Instead of a gigantic alarm snooze button you get a tiny lever you need to set to snooze, off and then reset. Plus it's hard to remember or even see which state the alarm is set to.

I just hope people seeing this item with a 9/10 score do not assume it's an instabuy as they often are with TR. Philips products are the sort where you often think to yourself "Great product, but why did they do THAT?"


August 3, 2011, 2:56 am

Indeed - I read up about the bulb and general failure issues around Philips's SAD lamps before buying, but decided to take the leap anyway.

The DS3020 strikes me as a relatively simple device though, and wouldn't hesitate recommending it as a simple "shove in and play" device. It's good to hear any particular concerns about these kind of units though, so we can factor them in with future reviews.

Hamish Campbell

August 3, 2011, 11:52 am

Maybe it's a bit pedantic, but from what I've read the new batteries in phones perform better if kept topped up. Previously it was important to run from full to empty regularly but this seems no longer to be the case.

Not sure about the constantly charging when already fully charged thing though, perhaps that is still an issue....although why that can't be dealt with I don't know.


November 2, 2011, 5:20 am

the philips fidelio ds 3020 appears to have just one speaker. is that accurate? can you reccomend a similiar product with 2 speakers for stereo sound? thank you.

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