Monitor Audio i-Deck iPod speakers

At the risk of sounding like Denis Norden; if you’re one of those people who likes to have all the latest stuff; to have your dinner party guests cooing and clucking over all the lovely toys on display in your house, then the Monitor Audio i-deck is right up your street.

The latest iPod sound deck to hit the market is produced by a thoroughbred name in audio equipment. Indeed Monitor Audio have been producing excellent speakers for over 30 years, so this is hardly a surprising venture for them. What is perhaps a little surprising is that anybody is producing these things.

There’s nothing wrong with them, but why spend £250 on yet another gadget when you can pop to your local electrical retailer and pick up a 3.5mm jack lead for three quid and whack into your home stereo system?

That aside, the i-deck produces a nice enough sound. They claim it’s the perfect partner for iPod and in many senses it is: stunningly simple to use, it has distinctive lines and does what it says on the tin.

Sadly, to be honest, I felt it didn’t deliver the earth-shattering and ear-splitting sound that I would expect having shelled out £250 for a room-filling audio experience. Yes, it’s louder than most amplified speaker systems you can plug into the planet’s favourite MP3 player, and the speakers are undoubtedly of the finest quality, but to be honest it just wasn’t beefy enough for me. I get much better sound with my £3 accessory.

As I said, the i-deck is beautifully simple to use and literally within seconds I had sound pouring into the room.

The radio frequency remote is the primary way of controlling the i-deck (the iPod volume control is disabled as soon as it slots into the cradle), and with only six buttons it’s very simple to get going. However, volume and track skipping is all you can do from the comfort of your armchair - or this being an RF remote, from any room within range (in testing, this didn’t prove to be as far as might be useful). The EQ settings on your iPod still have to be adjusted on the device and I found that it was preferable to have the backlight permanently on so that you could see what was playing from a comfortable distance. What I’d like to see, especially in this price bracket, is fully integrated iPod control - access to all the menus from the remote, or separate EQ controls on the i-deck itself would be a huge advantage. With the remote itself, the buttons are a little unresponsive too.

Verdict

Monitor have obviously spent a lot of time on the design of i-deck and to my taste it misses the mark. iPod is lauded as a design classic mainly due to its simplicity and elegant lines. Monitor have created over-stylised, obliquely-angled, grey and white addition to their customers’ homes that might look a bit dated in a couple of years when tastes inevitably change - the one catch when worrying about style over sound quality.

The i-deck charges the iPod and is compatible with the Mini, 4G 20Gb and 40Gb, 3G 10Gb, 15Gb and 30Gb, as well as the Photo 30Gb and 60Gb models, via interchangeable cradles. You can also have your PC/Mac sync cable plugged into the i-deck to keep your player updated. Any other audio devices you have can also be plugged in via a 3.5mm jack lead (ironically, they provide one in the box!). That’s all there is to the package!

Monitor’s claims are, in the main, fulfilled, but the question remains: do you really need this in your home?