We’ve seen iPhone/iPod docks in the shape of tubes, blocks, and blimps, so why not a — pyramoid? Or an ovamid?
Whatever you call its striking shape, Monitor Audio’s i-deck 100 is lovely to look at from any angle. Monitor Audio is a British brand best known for excellent-performing two-way speakers, and with the i-deck the firm hasn’t strayed too far from its roots. The dock conceals a pair of 3-inch two-ways that use the firm’s well-proven C-CAM ceramic/metal drivers, along with 30+15-watt biamplification to each side and audiophile-grade digital-to-analog conversion.
The new i-decks — there’s also a larger version with 4-inch drivers — pack a proprietary concealed weapon in the dock wars: Automatic Position Control, or APC. When you first plug in (or re-plug in) an i-deck, it runs through a 4-second calibration routine, emitting noise bursts at four frequencies to inform the unit where it sits relative to walls and floor, so that it may then select the appropriate DSP bass equalization. Combined with “bass level management” (loudness compensation) built into its volume curves, this promises musically balanced response in every setup, at every level.
And that situation turned out to be perfectly true. The i-deck 100 sounded great: smooth, airy, detailed, and honest on the full gamut of music. Its compact nature will please décor mavens, though a stereo effect is limited unless you’re sitting very close indeed. Monitor’s dock plays plenty loudly for even fairly serious listening, with ample yet well-defined bass for more casual listening.
Ergo-wise, the i-deck is a simple soul. Power and volume up/down keys are the only controls on the ovamid itself (there’s an aux input around back); everything else is managed via your iThing, which sits in front of the i-deck itself on a pillar-like docking arm for easy thumbing. An egg-shaped remote offers volume, skip, and play-pause controls.
For $499 (or perhaps a bit more), you could buy a small integrated amp and bookshelf-speaker combo that would match the i-deck on sonics, but minus the convenience, portability, and coolness — and really, what price style? – Daniel Kumin
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