Update 05.12.2011: Soundfreaq has confirmed the Sound Stack will launch for £299, but did not rule out it being discounted by retailers.
As phones become our music players of choice the race to make the best dock to show off their audio prowess intensifies. Categories are already becoming clear: under £100, under £300, up to £500 and above. Quality products can be found in each range, but where this dock breaks the mould is its determination to fight above its station.
The 'Sound Stack' comes from newcomer Soundfreaq and will not launch in the UK until 2012. It is projected to cost between £249 and £299 yet the company claims it can stand toe-to-toe with docks nearly twice the price. Marketing bravado is nothing knew, but the most interesting aspect to the Sound Stack is Soundfreaq may have a point. Soundfreaq, a self-described "global co-op of craftsmen, designers and engineers… working outside the limitations of a traditional corporate structure… to develop products from the ground up", has been working on the Sound Stack for two years. As such it displays many qualities which we suspect wouldn't have made it through corporate board meetings. In short, inside and out, the Sound Stack is unusual.
Most apparent of these is the design. Breaking drastically from the curves and smooth edges currently en vogue, the Sound Stack is all straight lines and 90 degree angles making it more of a homage to the 1980s. We've found reaction to this is mixed with a love it/hate it aesthetic where a multinational corporation made have played safe. Another surprising aspect of the Sound Stack is its weight. Audio has long traded in weight as a sign of quality components, but despite dimensions of 440 x 160 x 190 mm, the Sound Stack weighs just 4.7Kg it is 300g lighter than the portable Arcam rCube.
There are other decisions which also seem strange as you look deeper. Soundfreaq is marketing the Sound Stack as "made for audiophiles" and it carries the tagline "Authentic Audiophile Performance Goes Wireless". The instinctive reaction to this would be the inclusion of Apple's AirPlay or Kleer, two lossless wireless audio standards, but Soundfreaq has opted for Bluetooth, a lossy technology not renowned for getting audiophiles excited. That said audiophiles should be excited, especially audiophiles on a budget.