There’s a sparkle produced by the Creative satellites which Sony’s compact cubes can’t match, and the T3s also have more punch when it comes to heavy rock sounds or orchestral tracks. The SRS-GD50iPs can pump out Uprising from Muse’s The Resistance with plenty of gusto, but the Creatives do a better job of handling the song’s dynamics, and lend the track more attack and attitude. With classical tracks like Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending or Wagner’s prelude to Parsifal, meanwhile, the Sony’s exhibit that tell-tale boxed-in sound that shows you they’re struggling to resolve the full orchestra en-masse.
On the other hand, the Sony speakers do a better job than many comparably priced iPod docks I’ve heard when it comes to iPod playback. The same limitations apply as when they’re used as a USB PC set, but there’s enough detail and presence to handle most pop, rock, jazz, acoustic and classical material you might throw at it. The output isn’t what an audiophile would recognise as Hi-Fi, but it’s more than good enough for everyday listening by everyday folk.
It’s also worth mentioning that the SRS-GD50iP is a pretty versatile system when it comes to PC use. Really avid gamers might want something with more low-end punch for playing Modern Warfare 2 or Left4Dead, but the Sony system did a sterling job with the latter, delivering zombie groans, shotgun blasts and the usual lashings of blood and boomer bile with impact, effective reverb and a nice, wide soundstage. A quick blast through Iron Man’s action scenes gave me no reason to question the system’s cinematic credentials either, and while I’d prefer a set of T3s on my desktop overall, I’d be perfectly happy were the Sony system to find a permanent home on it.
The key point here is convenience. If you just want a set of PC speakers, there are better choices out there for the money. Even if you can’t stretch to the Gigaworks T3s, you should be able to find a set of Aego Ms for £120 or less, while Creative’s T40 Series II speakers and HD50s can be had for under £100. And that’s ignoring some of Logitech’s fine entries in this field.
If you merely want an iPod Dock, meanwhile, then there’s plenty of competition here too. What the SRS-GD50iP does so well is give you both in one package, with a desktop system that fits your PC and your iPod. To my mind this makes up for the fact that sound quality isn’t as stellar as you’d get from some rivals. If that makes sense to you, then the SRS-GD50iP is an excellent buy.
Audio quality is more good than amazing, but as a PC/iPod combo the SRS-GD50iP makes a lot of sense.
Score in detail