First Looks: Soundfreaq SFQ-01 Sound Platform
New Kid on the Block
Chances are, you haven’t heard of them, but Soundfreaq is the latest kid on the iPod/iPhone docking system block. Not much is known about this newly established company, but that hasn’t stopped them from jumping straight into the high-end iPod/iPhone docking speaker system with the SFQ-01 Sound Platform.
Classy & Simple
Given that Apple places so much emphasis on design, it is no surprise that aesthetics is a very important element of any iPod/iPhone docking system. And the SFQ-01 Sound Platform is easily one of the better-looking docking systems we’ve seen.
Decked entirely in black with orange lightning accents, the SFQ-01 Sound Platform oozes style. Its understated looks are easy on the eyes and the accents give it a sophisticated touch. The docking connector sits in the middle of the unit and is compatible with nearly every iPod and iPhone device that was ever made.
On the front panel are three dials, two of which let users adjust the bass and treble levels, while the last dial on the right turns Soundfreaq's UQ3 DSP technology on and off. UQ3 widens the soundstage and creates a more spacious sound, a problem that often plagues docking systems because of the close proximity of their left and right speakers.
Moving on to the right, you’ll find buttons to enable the unit’s Bluetooth connectivity; pairing devices was a breeze. At the side, you’ll find a hidden compartment that stores the SFQ-01 Sound Platform’s remote control. This design is very clever because the compartment has a magnetic backing and this makes it easy to store the remote control away.
Soundfreaq has positioned the SFQ-01 Sound Platform as a docking system for serious music lovers who want a neutral and balanced sound. To this end, they have fitted it with custom engineered drivers that were designed to displace a larger volume of air. They have also included Dual Port Chambers, which guides sound from the drivers to the rear ports through a nautilus-shaped path. This sounds quite similar to Bose’s Waveguide technology.
While most audio systems today tend to favor the bass, the Soundfreaq SFQ-01 Sound Platform is refreshingly neutral. Playing our usual test tracks, we found that the bass response was never exaggerated and was very neutral, neither lacking nor overbearing. That said, playing fast dance tracks like Tiesto’s Elements of Life, we found that the SFQ-01 sounded slow and tired. This was the same too for hip-hop and rap tracks.
We found that SFQ-01 Sound Platform is better suited for easy-listening and lighter material. Playing Adele’s Melt My Heart to Stone, we found that vocals were clear and well textured, while Chris White’s saxophone on Dire Straits’ Your Latest Trick sounded silky smooth. That said, the SFQ-01 Sound Platform does sound a tad harsh at the higher registers and this was most apparent when playing Fanfare for Louis by the Dallas Wind Symphony, which is heavy on horns and trumpets.
The SFQ-01 Sound Platform is a decent iPod/iPhone docking system from newcomers Soundfreaq. It looks beautiful and packs useful features such as wireless Bluetooth music streaming and UQ3 surround sound. Audio performance is commendable though not mind-blowing, but we like its clean, clear and smooth sound. Also, we appreciate that Soundfreaq has given the SFQ-01 a more neutral bass response.
The major stumbling block, however, is its price. At S$379, we expected a better sounding docking system. As it is, the SFQ-01 Sound Platform seems to handle easier listening materials better and fails to shine when we played faster, more aggressive tracks. That won’t do, because for that money, we expect solid, if not decent, all-round performance.