Bayan 7 iPod dock: A natural soundstage for your music

A speaker dock is almost a necessity these days. They provide a nice charging station and music on demand in case a party spontaneously breaks out in your living room. There is now a new brand on the market, Bayan Audio, set to compete in a saturated market. How is it going to do that? By offering a unique and natural sound and I will go into all the technical details soon. Their premium dock is the newly launched Bayan 7.

Bayan-Audio

The Bayan 7 design is a contemporary look with a 12mm wood casing. It feels solid and well made. It is on the large side so be prepared to clear some shelf space. It has 120W sound power output through twin amplifiers. Having tried it out, it really does belt out the songs. Coupled with an 8” subwoofer, the sound quality is very good. I got the chance to compare it to its competitors like the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin and it provides a natural soundstage so you hear just like the artist intended. I could really pick out instrumental changes in the Bayan 7. One of features which sets it apart is has a near-flat frequency range. ‘Frequency response’ measures the ability of the product being tested to reproduce all frequencies, from low bass to high pitched sounds, at a consistent volume level. On a graph, the frequency response is near flat whereas its competitors are up and down.

So the sound is there but you will not get any extra features like Internet Radio, AirPlay or iPhone App. Bayan Audio decided to focus on the sound to make it the best it can be than give little features which most of time do not get used. However I was told they are looking to make plugins will be plugged in the back which will give you some extra features (although no word on what the features may be). An iPad, smartphone or laptop can all be plugged in to USBA/3.5mm socket in the back so wherever your music is stored, you can play it on the Bayan 7.

At £299 it cheaper than its competitors but it does not offer the same features they do. You can order one from www.bayanaudio.com.

Update:
Well looks like some of you are enjoying the Bayan Audio 7 judging by the comments. Good to see. Well you will be happy to hear that the first upgrade accessory is coming out as I mentioned that Bayan Audio are planning. It is the Bayan Audio Airstream coming in May. Wireless streaming is definitely the future and a lot of docks coming out will have it. The Bayan Audio Airstream adds wireless streaming capability to the Bayan range of audio docks, without needing any extra battery or cables to operate. Using Bluetooth 4.0, it will be compatible with both Apple and non Apple devices which support A2DP Bluetooth standard and connects via the specially-designed USB/3.5mm audio port on the rear of the Bayan dock. No word on pricing yet.

Pure Contour 100Di: Punching above its weight

Recently, radio maker Pure unleashed the Contour 100Di, an affordable, compact dock for iPod, iPhone and iPad with integrated digital radio, powerful and detailed audio, a charming revolving dock and a free companion internet radio and music streaming App (available now to iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users). Sounds nice, huh? Heard it all before? Right.

Pure-Contour-100Di

Let us assure you though, that the Contour 100Di is a nifty piece of kit, very nifty. It’s most useful when connected with the free Pure Lounge App, which enables the user to access a good variety of internet radio stations, on-demand content (podcasts and listen again programmes) and your own  sounds, as well as the ability to discover, explore and listen to millions of music tracks via the Pure Music subscription service which will go live in December and be instantly accessible through the aforementioned iPhone App.

Refreshingly, the 100Di punches above its weight with 20W RMS of audio for its compact dimensions and a strong feature set including digital and FM radio; made for iPod and iPhone certification; a slimline remote with neat magnetic remote tidy; two alarms; sleep and snooze timers; an aux-input for connecting an MP3 player; headphone socket.

This baby is part of an expanding Contour family of docks, and fortunately for you more fashionable gadget fiends, it has been designed with contemporary styling (well, the one we’ve got is a nice shade of black, any way…) to look good in any room of the house and the smashing revolving dock feature can be tucked away when the dock isn’t being used.

Interestingly enough, the Contour 100Di is also part of EcoPlus, which means that they are constantly upholding a commitment to the environment – very cool. All Pure products are designed to minimise their environmental impact and manufactured in ethically approved and audited facilities. They have reduced power consumption in operation and standby, use recycled packaging materials, have the smallest possible packaging and components selected to minimise environmental impact. Great stuff.

Contour 100Di is available now for £99.99. Please visit www.pure.com for more information. People interested in the Pure Music subscription service launching in December can register their interest right now at www.thelounge.com/puremusic.

The Steel: Stylish, impressive sound and modestly priced

Whilst not all iPod docking stations look suave and sophisticated – Speakal’s iPig iPod docking station springs to mind – if such a device is more urbane in appearance, it can make a classy addition to a room. Magicbox’s latest charging base for iPods and iPhones, the Steel, can be most definitely put in the ‘enhancing the classiness and elegance of a home’ category.

MagicBox-Steel

Being named ‘the Steel’, this docking station certainly sounds domineering, and in boasting a classy design of simple lines, hi-gloss piano black finish and ‘cradle hewn’ from precision stainless steel, interrupted only for a laser-cut, blue-backlit control panel, undoubtedly looks the part. But does the Steel pump out as equally as impressive optimum sound?

Magicbox assure us that the Steel provides users with ‘distinctively rich sound with precise vocal transparency and definitive bass response’, and with two ten-watt speakers attached, who are we to argue?  Unlike some docking stations, Steel users can have complete control over the acoustic sound blasting from the device using the treble and bass controls and with an aux-in jack, users will also have the option to connect non-Apple MP3 players.

With this classy piece of equipment users will be able to charge and play Apple devices simultaneously and, by operating the Steel via a remote control, can do so from the luxury of their  armchair.

Oh yes, another great feature of the Steel… its price, just £49.99.

If you are on the market for an iPod docking station or, as they do make a good Christmas present, are looking to buy a loved one such a gadget this Christmas, then you could do a whole lot worse than opt for the Steel.

Check it out at MagicBox

Who let the iHogs out?

Home Entertainment company Speakal has brought its very own piggy to market in the shape of the iHog iPod/iPhone docking station speaker system, which allows you to take your music out into the great outdoors.

iHog

iPhone and iPod users can go the whole hog and listen to their favourite tunes using this cute pink or white piggy (a black and a black-and-white model will be available soon), which is bound to be a hit with kids and teenagers (and a fair few adults we reckon). It follows on from the release of the smaller and non-portable iPig a couple of years ago.

This universal cradle can hold all iPods and iPhones, and can be taken outside, whether in the farmyard or garden, thanks to its own lithium rechargeable battery, which offers power to drive your porker for up to 10 hours, while also charging up your mobile device.

On the sound front, this little piggy promises to deliver 360 degree of sound from two tweeters, two sound diffusers and a downring 20 Watt subwoofer. The super amplification stereo system, with optimized airflow, offers frequencies from 50Hz to 2KHz for a total output of 28+ Watts, which should fill up any room (or pigsty for that matter).

We’re used to seeing a volume rocker or key on most devices these days, but to alter the volume of music on the iHog, you just push the hog’s ears to turn sound up or down, while touching its head will let you stop, pause or skip tracks. A remote control is also included.

The system can also be connected to a TV, games console or any other music source to amplify the sound.

“After two consecutive years of great success for the smaller iPig, Speakal is excited to launch the most powerful speaker system yet – the iHog,” said David Solomon, CEO, Speakal. “For everyone who enjoyed their iPig at home, now you can take the fun outdoors anytime, with the new portable music companion.”

And if you’re the one who brings home the bacon, you’ll be forking (or should that be porking?) out a pretty pricey £80 for some piggy-shaped tunes this Christmas.

Be a diamond geezer with the latest iPhone dock from RED5

iPhone docks are generally ten a penny, and here at Latest Gadgets Towers we’re always receiving press releases about them, so they really need to stand out from the crowd to get noticed.

BlackDiamond

And the latest one to hit our inbox from RED5 certainly has a bit of a twist. The Black Diamond iPhone Dock from Thumbs Up is a spherical shaped dock that has an added bonus. Slip the iPhone in the dock and the Black Diamond comes to life, becoming a sound-sensitive mood lamp.

So you can relax while the lights slowly change – or create your own disco lighting in your bedroom. – while you charge up your smartphone.

To work, your iPhone must be running a free app from Thumbs Up. This allows you to choose between a number of different lighting effects, including Flames, Plasma, Breath, Lightning and Rainbow.

To change the light setting, simply tap the Diamond twice and the sound sensor will switch it to the next mode. Tap again once you’re happy with the setting.

And as welll as putting on a light show, the dock will also charge up your phone if you connect it to your computer using the supplied USB cable.

The Black Diamond also has alarm and sleep functions, and while it will be quite compelling to some, and is far from your average boring dock, we reckon £69.95 is quite a price to pay for a light show.

Available from Red5

Pioneer’s new micro-stereo systems

Pioneer has launched four new micro-stereo systems into the European market, with enough variation between the models to help you find your ideal micro-music machine.

The range – X-HM10, X-HM20DAB, X-HM70DAB, XC-HM70DAB – was built on the back of the success of the X-HM50 micro-system that was introduced last September.

Pioneer-Micro-Stereo

Every system in the range caters for all of your CD playing needs, while also remembering those of us who live in the 21st century: each one has a front-mounted USB port.

The USB support isn’t great, however, allowing the playback of MP3 or WMA files. That’s not the widest format support we’ve ever seen. Still, most files come in MP3 anyway, so it’s probably not a deal-breaker.

For every model except the X-HM10, you’ll also find an iPhone/iPod docking slot integrated in the top of the cabinet, for both playback with charging.

All of the systems are extremely similar in size, with each device measuring 21.5cm wide. The two premium offerings are slightly taller (11.1cm to 9cm) and have a little more depth (32cm vs. 30cm).

There’s not much else to say about the entry-level X-HM10 (£129.99), other than its speakers output at 2x15W.

Things get more interesting with the X-HM20DAB (£199.99), however, which throws in DAB radio, higher-grade speakers (complete with a 5cm tweeter and 10cm woofer) and the iPhone/iPod docking capability, as well as support for the iPad via the USB port.

Topping Pioneer’s micro systems line-up is the X-HM70DAB (£449.99) – with premium features like internet radio and home network music playback. That means that not only are all the world’s internet stations at your fingertips, but also music from a PC or media server connected to the same LAN can be played via DLNA.

Speaker-wise, the X-HM70DAB’s speakers have a built-in 12cm woofer, and output at an impressive 50W (each). It’ll also be available without speakers, as model number XC-HM70DAB (£349.99).

Sun-powered sounds on the move with the Eton Soulra XL

Back in May (which was, it now appears, when we had our summer), I enjoyed a couple of weeks of excellent quality sound in the garden thanks to the Eton Soulra solar-powered sound system.

soulraXL

I was pretty impressed by its easy of use, sound quality and compatibility, so I suspect that the same will be true of its latest release – a solar-powered boombox that goes by the name of the Soulra XL.

The device looks pretty good, and is triangular in shape – reminiscent of a giant Toblerone. The dock sits behind a waterproof antiglare glass that should protect it during outdoor use and also allow you to view the display if the sun is glaring.

The solar panel is retractable and can provide more than five hours of playing time – it will also charge up an iPad or iPhone in four hours – really handy if you’re away camping, or out for the day on the beach or in a park.

The portable sound system includes eight speakers, two woofers, two tweeters and four passive radiators to help push out the sound from a powerful 22-watt amplifier, as well as a remote control.

It has a gel-cushioned carry strap for portability and a mains adaptor for use indoors.

Fifty quid more pricey than the last unit I reviewed, the Eton Soulra XL is still a pretty reasonable £199.99, and if portability is a big issue for you, it looks like Eton has addressed it here.

Rise and shine with the Gear4 Houseparty Rise

Sometimes I yearn for the good old days, when an alarm clock was just that – a clock with an alarm on the top – preferably one of the really old-fashioned ones with two metal bells and a clanger that oscillated between them in an – ahem – alarming manner.

GEAR4-HouseParty

But if that were the case, I wouldn’t have anything to write about. So, suppressing those Luddite tendencies, let me tell you about the HouseParty Rise from those accessories wizards at Gear4.

It’s a rather cool-looking device featuring an alarm clock, dock for an iPhone or iPod Touch – and most importantly for any alarm clock – a big snooze button!

The device can be controlled using Gear4’s SmartLink app – owners just need to download the app to their Apple device and they can use it to change MP3 tracks and turn the volume up and down, just by tapping the screen.

The clever thing about the app is that it also allows you to control your docked device using a second iPhone or iPod – priceless if you can’t be bothered to get out of bed or get out of a comfy position on the sofa to change tune, or indeed if you don’t want to disturb the cat sleeping on your lap – can you tell who rules in our household?

The screen can be easily dimmed with a swipe, so it won’t keep you awake if those kinds of things bother you at all – and that huge silver snooze button is hard to miss even if you are only barely awake. Plus, pre-set alarms on an iPhone or iPod touch auto-sync with the HouseParty Rise once docked, saving a bit more time.

The HouseParty Rise comes in at a quite pricey £99, but then you are getting a high quality speaker and an alarm clock for your money.

Find out more at www.Gear4.com