A Perfect System for the Office
Sure they look a little too “take me to your leader” for some folks, but maybe that's appropriate, because the sound from the Micropod SE speakers from scandyna is out of this world. These two-way speakers perch fairly discretely on my office credenza, doing something the 25 year-old JVC SW/AM/FM radio and a Grundig portable were never able to do – bring fine tunes (or is that iTunes?) into my office. Of course, you'll need a way to hook your iPod to the speakers and for this scandyna provides "the dock," as they state in their capital-letter-averse terminology.
Unlike many other docking units that also provide a USB or line level connection to work with non-Apple MP3 players, scandyna is clearly only interested in chasing the lead dog here. The dock ships with enough inserts to handle everything going back to the first generation iPod through the minis, the nanos and the video iPods, but it still requires you bite the big apple.
My dock was in black as requested, but it also ships in white if that's your preference. Unfortunately, the brick power supply only comes in white, so you'll want to hide it and as much of the white cabling as you can if you've gone the black route. Power plugs into the back where you'll also find some seriously heavy speaker terminals that accept smaller spades and bare wire. Each channel provides 15 watts which is more than enough as we'll see. Between and betwixt lies a small stereo subwoofer jack which I didn't use.
The Micropod SE speakers use a 3-1/4" Kevlar mid/ bass driver and 3/4" tweeter. The Kevlar driver is not covered by a grill cloth. A friend said it would become a dust collector, which only time will tell, but the driver surrounds didn't feel sticky or tacky in any way, so I would assume the speakers themselves will remain pristine over time. The curved enclosure is glossy black and the entire diminutive speaker unexpectedly heavy (about 2-1/2 lbs each). The three support legs are inserted and twisted outwards in a 30 second assembly routine that requires no tools. Their spherical feet mean you won't have to worry about scratching the woodwork. The base itself is flat so you don't have to use the legs if you don't want, but honestly, how can you resist?
There is a credit card sized remote control in the box with the dock that offers volume up/down, track forward/backward, repeat, play/pause, mute and power. Song shuffling must still be performed directly on the docked iPod. The remote must be pointed almost directly at the dock to work well. In my case, with the dock on the credenza behind me, I was performing all forms of Billy the Kid pot shots over my left and right shoulders to mute before answering my phone. scandyna should investigate improving the remote or at least provide a hand mirror for the trick.
How does it sound? Well I've had it for less than a week and although this review unit has to go back, I'll be scouting around to get one for my own to keep. In the all important midrange, voices and instrumentation are very natural. There is no honkiness or harmful coloration. I kept commenting on how good the system sounded. Maybe it's a little of the glass of water in the middle of desert syndrome of just having something comforting in the office, but I was constantly impressed upon reentering my office to be greeted by the still playing and still wonderful sounding system. The tweeter is sufficiently extended at the listening levels I used to provide some air around the music. With the speakers 7 feet apart and aimed at the back of my head, imaging was a little Sixties-goes-Stereorama, but there was that sense of spaciousness that belied the smallness of my office. There was perhaps a bit too much mid to upper bass on an absolute level (and with a -3db point of 65 Hz, no low bass at all to speak of). But that mid/upper bass push was subtle enough to act as a well designed "loudness" button found on an old receiver. Plus, backed into the corners of my credenza as they were, the bass was being reinforced by three room boundaries. I experimented with "bass cut" on the iPod itself, but that adversely effected the midrange, thinning the sound, so I left things as they were.
I would like to see more steps in the volume ramp, particularly at the very lowest end. Depending on the song, the first click up from dead silent was often too loud. More gradation in the lowest volume range would improve matters considerably. As would offering scandyna products in more locations in the USA. Currently there are no dealers in Connecticut. Tommy will want to see hear touch feel and play with these devices at this price point ($299) before asking Mommy to dish out for one. I was demoing the system for anyone who came into my office and found myself thinking "damn!" more than once. In demo mode, i.e. cranked, it can get very loud. And it holds up surprisingly well, but no one will confuse it with a mega-bucks audiophile system when you start forcing the little drivers to compress. That rich upper bass gets thin fast as you start asking for all 15 watts. But at lower levels (and not just office-appropriate levels, but decent music enjoyment levels), the Micropod SE speakers are a thing of joy.
The perfect office present for yourself, a little post-Christmas pick-me-up. Go ahead, class the joint up!