Review Price £299.99
The flip side to some of Soundfreaq's more unusual choices is they extend to some truly different internals. The Sound Stack is fitted with a 2.2 speaker configuration, abandoning the typical 2.1 drivers and subwoofer arrangement to pair two drivers with two subs – one facing the front, the other the rear. Branded 'DubSub' the aim of this unusual setup is to reduce the amount of reverb often felt by blasting a single sub beyond its capabilities. By positioning the two in different directions it also balances the sound to make bass response more even. DubSub combines with custom-engineered Kevlar-reinforced drivers, a tuned triple-ported housing, and Soundfreaq's proprietary UQ3 spatial sound enhancement which is designed to widen the sound stage and create a greater sense of sound separation. Think room filling audio, rather than shouting from a corner.
So how does it all work? Remarkably well. In describing the Sound Stacks' audio quality it is important to address the 'Soundfreaq' brand name. While anything with a misspelling of 'freak' would suggest it is going for bass heavy teen-appeal, Soundfreaq's reason d'être couldn't be more different. Instead of warm, bassy fuzz the Sound Stack actually chases accuracy… and with remarkable success.
To sum up the Sound Stack in adjectives we would choose: controlled, balanced, precise and detailed. This is no delicate flower though, the Sound Stack produces a substantial 100 watts. Watts are no more an indication of sound quality than megapixels are for cameras or gigahertz for computers, but it will indeed hold its own against more expensive docks like the 2011 TrustedReviews Awards winning rCube and bombastic Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air. The shock is the Sound Stack actually holds its shape better than both docks at maximum volume. The Zeppelin can become muddled and the rCube, once a pass master until its volume cranking firmware update, will distort.
Soundfreaq has also pulled off a masterstroke with its UQ3 spatial enhancement tech. Our primary criticism of the otherwise outstanding Zeppelin Air is it can sound like it is shouting from a corner, but the Sound Stack revels in creating distinction between its stereo channels. It doesn't succeed on a level of the rCube because while the Sound Stack uses algorithms to trick the ear, Arcam has physically positioned the rCube's speakers at 45 degree angles to truly create its most compelling feature.
That said the fact we are talking about the Sound Stack in the same breath as docks originally priced at £500 is high praise indeed. Of course, there is a but and that but is important. For all the accuracy and composure Soundfreaq has been able to reproduce the Sound Stack can lack emotion. 'Sterile' would be going too far, but 'scientific' certainly wouldn't. We found ourselves appreciating the Sound Stack on a technical rather than emotional level. This might sound harsh, especially given the Sound Stack's DubSub makes it proficient across a wide range of musical genres, but 'proficient' is again the word which comes to mind.