This article first appeared in HWM Jun 2011.
The number of different iPod docks has reached dizzying numbers since the birth of Apple's more popular offspring, the iPhone. Now, if you believe that pairing an iPhone and a dock is the most natural way to enjoy music, you might want to check out the Geneva Sound System Model S.
Cosmetically, the Model S appeals with its clean lines, lacquered body, and touch-sensitive controls. Measuring just over 20cm long, the Model S also happens to be the smallest member in Geneva Lab's "Model" series. Our review unit came in white, though potential buyers also have black or red to choose from.
Connectivity is sparse, in that only an AC input, RF antenna inlet (for its FM tuner), and a 3.5mm auxiliary jack are located behind. Additionally, a matte silver stand is included in the package, handy for raising the speakers' soundstage to suit your listening height. However, mount this unit too high and you might have trouble viewing the player's top-seated interface.
Most iPhone docks lack the wow factor, but not the Model S. For starters, it has a motorized cradle that reveals itself when the player switches to its iPod mode. The swanky illuminated Touchlight controls also make it possible to fiddle with it in the dark. You also get an Apple-esque click wheel to manage volume levels, though we didn't appreciate the remote stick's almost imperceptible labels.
Akin to B&W's Zeppelin Air, the Model S also comes equipped with dedicated Class-D amplifiers to power its twin 3-inch drivers. According to Per Hallberg, a Swedish sound designer who worked on films such as Braveheart, the Model S was actually engineered to work like a reverse microphone. In other words, it was designed to achieve a stereo effect from a single point.
To test its drivers and bass ports, we ran a few AAC tracks such as Feist's "Let It Die" and "Mushaboom" from our trusty iPod with the EQs disabled. Our verdict? Vocals and mid-range qualities rang through but sounded excessively processed. To add, distortion on higher frequencies became more pronounced the louder it got, while bass lines weren't as full we liked them. As for its spatial effect, we can only say it was marginally felt.
In our opinion, Geneva Lab's Model S is a pricey audio solution with an average sonic performance for iPod/iPhone wielders. And it should please less critical listeners, who perhaps, value form over function when deciding on their desired sound dock of choice.