With an abundance of the population leaning towards the popularity of smart phones and inevitably music lover's collections turning digital, whether you adore or loath them, it looks like 'Audio Docking Systems' are here to stay.
The RDP-XA700 from the SONY 'X Series' is one such example of the growing trend towards the total music experience via your iPod, iPhone, even your iPad. Don't let the minimalistic design fool you though, this solid 3.3kg system oozes quality from the brushed steel control panel to the smooth opening action from the docking station tray.
Initial set-up is as simplistic as it looks, the basic functions are as easy as plug in and play. You will need to download a free App called 'D-Sappli' from iTunes which is a dedicated App that allows you to change the output from your iPhone speaker to the docking unit itself. Once you placed your device in the dock and selected the music you want to play, you press the small rectangle box near your volume on your device and you can choose to listen through the player. You can also play through 'AirPlay' which i'll talk about later.
The RDP-XA700 has an impressive crystal clear sound through the 'magnetic fluid' speaker units, with the 'dual passive radiators' producing a powerful 60w deep bass sound. With this level of applification, you don't need two cumbersome speakers bolted to your wall, it's all here in this compact, elegant system. We all know how long our iPods and iPhone batteries last, but this isn't a problem as they charge whilst playing at the same time and you can control your content wirelessly with the handy little remote control. Will it replace my beloved SONY seperates and vinyl currently gathering dust in my loft? Probably not, BUT this is a welcome addition to the modern family home and definitely one of the best sounding and stylish currently on the market.
The SONY RDP-XA700iP (£399) is available with free postage direct from www.sony.co.uk
Airplay is a communications software developed by Apple that allows wireless streaming between devices.
You can connect the system wirelessly to your LAN router using 'D-Sappli' or 'NS Setup' to stream your library content from iTunes via a Mac or PC. This took a little more time to set up as it depends on whether you have a WPS link button on your router to link to the unit, if all else fails you can hard wire them via a network cable.
Also for review is the SONY SA-NS410 wireless network speaker, which allows you to play music anywhere in your home near a mains power supply. This has obvious advantages when it comes to fixed wall speakers, plus various family members owning different devices can listen to their own music collections (you can also sync speakers to play the same music on additional speakers). This modern, sleek looking speaker also packs a punch with it's four outward facing tweeters with integrated woofer, delivering 360° of powerful, clear sound. It's very easy to set-up and again you will need to download a free App called 'NS Setup' from iTunes to play your chosen device wirelessly through this great speaker.
SONY have a product called 'Music Unlimited' where you can use various devices via the SONY Entertainment Network website through laptops, PC's or even through your Bravia TV that can gain access to millions of music tracks or hundreds of radio stations which can be then played through the speaker. But the thing that I most enjoyed about the SA-NS410 is via 'AirPlay' which streams your music from your iPhone directly to the speaker. It's ingenious, I'd never heard of this technology before but always wished it had existed, now it does and my wireless music dream is complete!