Update 08.02.12: The official retail price has now been cut to £200.
Tested October 2011 at £300
Dabbling in the world of iPod speaker docks has already proven very successful for Worthing-based B&W, so it should come as no surprise that another plucky Brit with plenty of hi-fi pedigree fancies a piece of the action.
Monitor Audio actually launched the original i-deck in 2005, but this first attempt took the form of a micro system as opposed to the new, symmetrical ‘tulip’ design that you see here.
Don’t fear the speakers
Designed for small to medium-sized rooms, it uses drivers derived from the company’s loudspeakers: twin 19mm gold dome tweeters and twin 3in C-CAM bass drivers to be precise.
Total power output is 90W, although if you have a larger room and need more power there's a bigger model – the i-deck 200 – with 140W and larger drive units.
The feature count is relatively modest. There’s no Apple AirPlay, and you can’t sync your iPod to a PC or Mac through the dock. There is a 3.5mm auxiliary input on the rear of the unit for connecting a different external source, though.
The supplied remote has been styled to complement the tulip design and sits snugly in the hand. However, the response of the basic controls for skipping track or changing volume could be more accurate.
Auto set-up tunes the sound
One unique feature is the i-deck’s Automatic Position Correction (APC). When you power up the system for the first time it emits three different test tones.
An internal mic measures these and either leaves the sound alone, or tunes it for being positioned close to a wall or in the corner of a room. We found the i-deck sounded best close to a wall up to around 30cm away.
Taking the digital stream from your iPod or iPhone, the i-deck produces an open, spacious sound. It’s going to struggle to fill a large room, but the expansive soundstage is mighty impressive.
Performance is impressive
Detail levels are excellent across the frequency range. Spin Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the lead guitar sparkles, while the solitary vocal sounds expressive. Drums hit with precision and a sense of dynamism that some rivals find tough to match.
The Prodigy’s No Good (Start The Dance) is a potent mix of rhythms and basslines, yet the i-deck laps them up, producing a splendidly attacking, rhythm-driven rendition of this club classic. Even at low volume levels, the i-deck’s dynamic capabilities shine through.
The i-deck’s strong showing should be cause for concern for the likes of B&W’s Zeppelin Mini. And that £100 price cut has just made it even better value.