The Sound Platform from Soundfreaq is an iPod dock with a twist - in that it doesn't have to be a dock at all, not if you don't want it to be. You see the Sound Platform has Bluetooth functionality on board, with support for all Apple devices packing Bluetooth, including your Mac.
The Sound Platform is Sounfreaq's flagship Bluetooth speaker system and has been, according to the official press blurb, “designed to combine exceptional acoustic performance with the possibilities of Bluetooth” and has been created with three primary objectives: “Performance”, “Experience” and “Design”.
The first thing you notice about the Sound Platform is that it looks so damn sexy. iPod docking systems are ten to the penny at the moment, and for a system to stand out it has to have something funky about it. And the Sound Platform does just that, with a brilliant contemporary/retro mishmash that oozes coolness. On one side of the control dock sits the modern looking sunk-in power, volume, source and track buttons, and on the other sit the EQ dials, which wouldn't look out of place on a 1970s turntable. The high-gloss black finish is complimented by the cool orange glow behind the iPod dock and there's even a nice little compartment on the side to house the little remote control.
Speaking of the remote control, it's your bog standard mini controller, similar to one that you'd get with even the cheapest iPod dock - no great shakes but it works well enough, if you choose to control your dock this way.
So we've established that it looks good, but that's no consolation if it doesn't perform. Fortunately though it does - very well. It's not only an incredibly easy dock to use, the sound quality is brilliant, especially at high volumes using the UQ3 (U-Cubed) sound effect, which we'll come back to later.
On the back of the dock are just two sockets, one for your mains connection and an auxiliary-in, in case you're not using a device with Apple’s dock connector. On the front of the system, you've got a power button, a source button that flicks through your three options (iPod dock, Aux-in and Bluetooth), a pair button for the Bluetooth, volume controls and track controls. These buttons are touch sensitive and are extremely responsive.
You've also got three silver dials: one for bass, one for treble and one to turn UQ3 on and off. The bass and the treble dials only have three options either way, so there isn't a great deal of customisation available, but we did find that an increase on the bass setting led to a deeper, less vibratory sound.
Talking of the sound, which is the key to any speaker system, the Sound Platform will not disappoint you. It's very clean, very smooth and with the UQ3 setting turned on at loud volumes, can fill a room nicely, without that one-place sound that you often get with docks. With the UQ3 setting off, the sound is a lot less dense and doesn't seem to travel as well. However, switch it on and you get a much more rounded, complete sound.
The UQ3 setting does, however, create a static fuzzy sound, which can be heard if you are listening to music very quietly. However, at low-levels this setting isn't really needed and you can't hear the fuzz at all at medium levels. You cannot adjust the bass or the treble with UQ3 turned on, but that's not really an issue as we found this to be the optimum sound possible from the device.
Bluetooth connection is a doddle - you simply push the pair button and it will immediately be picked up by your device and away you go. Bluetooth connection, once paired, is slightly irksome though, we found that it wouldn't always pair if the speaker was turned on and set to Bluetooth mode before switching on your Bluetooth connectivity on your Apple device. But, if you made sure that Bluetooth was active on your device, and then your fired up the Sound Platform there would be no issue. There was also a high-pitched scratchy sound when Bluetooth is turned on, but not playing music. Once the music played back, however, it was crystal clear.
We couldn't hear a discernible difference between having the music playback via Bluetooth, Aux-in or directly docked. When you do decide to dock your iPhone or iPod, you'll also be able to charge your device.
When your first connect via Bluetooth you are prompted to download the free Soundfreaq app to control your system. Although you don't need to use this app specifically, as you can do everything via the iPod app, it does give you a handy platform of all of the buttons on the system, including the bass, treble and UQ3 switches. You can also turn your system off using the app, but we found a combo of the little remote control along with the basic iPod app controls worked best for us.
Soundfreaq's Sound Platform is a brilliant mid-range iPod docking station that accomplishes everything it promises to do with vigour and aplomb. There aren't any hidden extras on board, it simply does exactly what it sets out to do. Its simplicity, combined with the Bluetooth connectivity is the basis of its brilliance.
There are a couple of little strange quirks that it has that prevent it from being a perfect device, such as the slight hesitation to pair-up at times, and the strange noises it can make when not playing music, but these don't really detract from what is, overall, a fantastic speaker system.
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