iPod Dock shoot-out Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 2 Old 02-22-2012, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Zeppelin Air vs. Geneva M vs. NAD VISO 1 vs. original Zeppelin vs. Bose 10

So here goes....

A few months ago I had the opportunity at a local dealer to listen to a few iPod docks all at the same time. I wanted to make it as objective as possible so I had a speaker cloth obstruction made up for the demo.. best 20$ I ever spent. I didn't want my own personal brand hates (bose) and likes (I am a little bit of an NAD fanboy) to become a factor with me picking a winner.

The contenders where:
- the king of the hill B&W Zeppelin Air and the regular Zeppelin.
- Bose sound dock 10
- NAD's VISO 1 iPod Dock
- Geneva M
- I wanted to get the arcam but the dealer could not get one.

I listened to the same track on my iPhone 3x on each unit. one pass listening for sound stage the next pass listening for Bass and treble response and the third just overall enjoyment. I scored the units from 1-10 for each for a possible perfect sound score of 30.

After the sound test (still not knowing what unit was A, B, C, D or E from the sound test) I went about playing with the units features. Some I spent more time with then others, since they had more features. But I would say even with the Zero feature Bose 10 and original Zeppelin I still spent 5 minutes with. Each unit got a score out of 10 for feature list and 10 for functionality. for a perfect score of 20.

here is what I found:

After I found out what units where what for the sound category, I was surprised. The Bose 10 did better then I thought it could (even though it is second from the bottom) and the Zeppelin Air was not even close to the top coming in third place for my ears.

Sound Quality Sound Stage
VISO 1 iPod Dock - 10
Geneva M - 9
Zeppelin Air - 7
Bose 10 - 6
first Zeppelin - 4

Sound Quality Bass and treble
VISO 1 iPod Dock - 9
Geneva M - 9
Zeppelin Air - 8
Bose 10 - 6
first Zeppelin - 4

Sound Quality Overall enjoyment
VISO 1 iPod Dock - 9
Geneva M - 9
Zeppelin Air - 7
Bose 10 - 5
first Zeppelin - 3

original Zeppelin and Bose 10 - Rating of 3
As the original Zeppelin and Bose 10 have almost the same features (very little) all I did with them was plug in the ipod and play a little with volume controls. They where what you would expect.

Geneva M - 6
The Model M does not have too many features to wright home about. it does have a nice clean control interface and nice led volume control. For those reasons I gave it a 6

NAD VISO 1 - 8
The VISO 1 has aptX bluetooth which is a lossless bluetooth streaming format, I only have an iPhone which just has regular Bluetooth but I have to say it sounded in a brief test to be just as good as Airtunes with the Zeppelin Air. I also like that it has a digital input (the only one in the group) and can do 1080i video pass from your ipod, so it can be used as a TV sound bar as well. Not to mention bypassing the pokey Digital to analogue converter in the iPod.

B&W Zeppelin Air - 8
I would have given the Zeppelin more if it had a digital in or HD video like the NAD VISO 1. But as features go it came down to me loving the concept of Airtunes so I gave it an 8 as well.

original Zeppelin and Bose 10 - Rating of 5
These two units again are neck and neck. They both don't do anything wrong but because of the lack of features I could not do much with them.

Geneva M - 6
Again the Model M is nothing to write home about in this department. But I did find myself playing with the controls a lot cus the thing was just so gorgeous.

B&W Zeppelin Air - 6
Now I like iTunes and consider it or anything for that matter that apple does to be very good. That is until i used a zeppelin air. Hooking it up took forever (over 1hr) and once we did get it working the quality was comparable to the NAD VISO 1 over bluetooth (which took 30 sec to get working). It also lost signal twice in a 15 min test. Everything else worked as advertised. docking was slick and painless.

NAD VISO 1 - 8
Using the NAD VISO 1 was by far the best experience of the bunch. Bluetooth streaming was a snap and docking (in the rotatable dock cradle) was easy. I deducted a few points for not having a volume meter (most likely the result of taking out the digital stream from the ipod) But that is the kind of thing that can be added later with a firmware update. I also deducted a point for the only really trouble I had with the unit. that was getting video from the ipod to a a screen. But it still only took a quick read of the manual and 2 min in order to figure it out.

Final scores
NAD VISO 1 44/50
Geneva M 39/50
B&W Zeppelin Air 36 / 50
Bose 10 25 / 50
original Zeppelin 16 / 50

As you can see the NAD VISO 1 is the overall winner. The surprise for me is how bad the original Zeppelin sounded compared to the rest of the group. Especially the Bose 10 which surprised me with not bad sound quality. (something I thought impossible from that company)

The NAD VISO 1 is not perfect. I think if it shipped with a airport express it would be very close. It was a marginal winner in the sound test over the Geneva M but pulled away from it in the other features and Functionality tests. SO from now on my defacto recommendation for iPod docks in this price range will be the NAD VISO 1

If you have any questions please let me know. Ill do my best to answer them
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post #2 of 2 Old 03-21-2012, 04:26 PM
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The NAD VISO 1 sounds amazing, but damn the pricetag is intense...not sure I could justify that over a home theater system :P
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