Broadcasting your music around the house has always been a problem. Do you go with wires, or a complicated set-up for media sharing, or just some really big speakers? Griffin think they have the answer with their Evolve wireless speaker system. Is this the solution you’ve been looking for? We get listening to find out.
We looked at the Griffin Evolve back in September 2007, and now we return to give it a good thorough going over.
Design takes centre stage in the Evolve; lovingly crafted from black gloss plastic, it will match your black iPod perfectly in a fusion of shiny loveliness. The front and rear of the base station are formed from a grey alloy and the grey tones continue in the plastic that make up the minimal control buttons and add detail to the speakers. To ensure that your iPod fits seamlessly, Griffin provide a selection of dock inserts for to match your model and generation of player, all conveniently numbered.
Around the back of the base are a range of connections so you can add other audio inputs, from your TV for example, as well as outputs, including a video feed if you have an iPod video.
The controls on the base consist of power, volume and a mono/stereo switch, with additional functions appearing on the basic remote control, which has an impressively long range. If we had one criticism of the remote it would be a lack of features. Yes, there is an argument for keeping things simple, but we would like to have seen an option to allow you to skip around the menus and avoid the need to poke your iPod to access the menu functions.
Moving on to the meat in the sandwich, what about the 12 watt wireless speakers? With no wires at all pairing and charging takes place without any input from the user, which is simplicity itself. Behind the grill of each speaker lives the subtle coloured LEDs that let you know the status of the speaker: connected, low charge, charging, etc. It doesn’t matter which speaker you place on which side, either, as you’ll see the LED switch from left to right as the speakers change over, which is very tidy indeed.
On paper the speakers have a range of 45 metres in the clear, but unless you live in a warehouse, this is an unlikely proposition. We tested the range through a window and found the speakers started to drop out at about 28 metres, which would suffice for summer BBQs and the like.
Around the house you’ll be fine taking speakers into different rooms, or on different floors. You’ll get 10 hours of play from the speakers before they need to go home, which should see you through most parties, at least within sociable hours.
Besides the two speakers that come with the kit, you’ll be able buy additional speakers and charging docks for them, although at the time of writing we don’t know how much these will set you back or when they will be available.
Unfortunately this is where things start to take something of a downturn. There is an obvious quality problem at both ends of the music range, with neither high nor low being delivered with any gusto as there is no subwoofer or tweeter. If your music choice is heavy on the bass, you’ll be left wanting more, which sort of takes the fun out of things. We listened to a range tracks from swing, which sounded great, to some house music from the Ministry of Sound, which suffered and came across a little flat and boring.
So in summary, has music evolved? It has certainly taken the first steps with such a simple approach. Beautifully crafted, the Griffin Evolve won’t look out of place in your minimalist loft apartment, but you may find the sound doesn’t match your expectations.
For us this is a convenient solution that solves the problem of how to get your music next to the pool or for a summer party in the garden. However, the lack of bass was a letdown. There is an audio out, so in a home setup this could be resolved, but as a standalone system, the Griffin Evolve still has some way to go.