Philips's Fidelio range hasn't grabbed the public's attention as much as Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin docks, but the top-end DS9000 sounds just as good as the big daddy Zeppelin, while costing less. The new Philips Fidelio DS9 is a mid-range model that shaves an extra hundred pounds off that dock's RRP, making it a direct rival to the Zeppelin Mini.
It's a fair bit larger than the baby B&W though. The Philips Fidelio DS9/10 is a full-size dock that'll dominate a mantelpiece or worktop, but it'll do so in style. The front is covered by an opaque fabric layer that protects the drivers, and also provides the dock with a consistent, attractive look. With an iOS device docked, all you see is this material covering and some of the shiny finish that covers the cut out that runs through the middle of the device. It's tastefully simple, more so than the TEAC Aurb or the somewhat ridiculous Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8.
Although it looks like a bass port, this cut-out that runs through is mainly there for the look, not the sound. It comes in mighty handy though, doubling as a handle to lug the dock about with. The all-important iOS dock sits front and centre ahead of this cut-out, like a throne in a royal throne room. The connector itself moves forward and backward slightly, to accommodate a wide range of devices including the iPad, iPod Classic and iPod Touch.
There are just two controls on the front of the Philips DS9 - the volume buttons that sit to the left and right of the Philips logo. They light up when your iOS device is plugged in and control the volume level of the player directly, so there's only one set of volume controls to worry about here. A simple, diminutive remote control is bundled, which lets you control playback and volume, and navigate directly through your iOS device's music library.
The back of the Philips Fidelio DS9 is finished in a wood-texture veneer. It's not the most convincing wood finish, but its shortcomings are only glaring when you get right up close, which is likely to be a rarity when it'll be facing the wall in most setups. Also around the back are two bass ports, one for each of the 8.9cm woofer drivers obscured behind the front grille.
Like virtually all iPod docks, the Fidelio DS9 doesn't offer much connectivity apart from the dock connector. There's a 3.5mm aux jack input by the power socket, but that's it. If you want Airplay, you'll have to upgrade to the upcoming £699 Fidelio DS9800, wait for a new mid-range model or add an AirPort Express Base Station.