Sahil Mohan Gupta, NDTV,
August 11, 2011
Here at the NDTV Gadgets lab we've had a steady stream of iPod docks coming our way for review. We're not complaining though. This time round, we have the Logitech Rechargeable Speaker S715i. We have to say this has to be the most boring name in the history of boring names for gadgets. But nomenclature challenged though it might be, does it packs an aural punch? As a Logitech product, expectations are high, as Logitech has been one of the few budget brands to offer stellar sound quality. Some of the most iconic products developed by the company include the Z-5500 surround sound speakers, which sounded pretty sweet, so some Pink Floyd-esque 'High Hopes' are in order for this one!
Logitech are no design gurus and most of their products are as bland as they get and the same holds true for the Rechargeable Speaker S715i. The rugged black finish underscores the blandness of the design but, at only 1.5 pounds, it is definitely portable.
The speakers are quite wide which would definitely improve the stereo separation but, as a whole, the façade is reminiscent of the front grill of a sports car. Maybe a Chevy Corvette!
On the rear end of the dock we get a kickstand,which frankly feels a tad flimsy, and is quite unstable. The auxiliary port is also housed in the rear, which has a rubberized cover along side the power outlet. Notably there are twin backwards-firing radiators, which act like mid-range, drivers for an added bass thump.
The front end of the dock houses the 3-inch neodymium drivers and a pair of half-inch neodymium tweeters. We also get another pair of radiators on the front. All in all we have 8 drivers to push up the sound.
In the center, we have the dock connector, which does not support the iPad. Admittedly, the connection feels imperfect as when ever we move the dock even slightly, the iPod moves around as if it were straddled on a rollercoaster ride.
The build consists of a combination of plastic and a metallic grill. Nothing very inspiring out here - standard quality plastics are used which are not overly cheap but surely not of the highest quality.
Besides this Logitech courteously provides a carry case and a remote control in the packaging.
While we are not being overly critical of the build quality considering the price factor, we do have to admit the remote control is distinctly sub-standard, as it feels immensely porky and cheap. Apart from that, we cannot access the functionality of the iPod through the remote and for multiple tasks we had to walk upto the dock and change the controls manually. Not ideal, the lack of functionality of the remote defeats the purpose of having it.
In-spite of the pitfalls regarding its questionable build quality, the one area where the S715i excels is sound quality. While many would say the 8 drivers that Logitech promotes heavily are marketing gimmicks, we beg to differ as it offers the best in class sound quality. Heck, its sound quality can go toe-to-toe with the likes of a more expensive Altec Lancing Sound Docks, or the equally priced JBL ONBEAT! And, dare we say it, on lower volumes the sound quality is comparable to the Bose Soundock Classic.
Dynamic compression is technology employed by many audio companies, and remnants of dynamic compression can be heard easily. Through Dynamic compression audio manufactures strive to control the total volume of the bass, to reduce the chances of clipping (undesirable distortion) on higher volumes.
While the sound goes through an intensive process of dynamic compression, the low-end is considerable. It packs a solid thump, which cannot be said, about any other dock in the price bracket.
With the presence of passive radiators on both front and back, the company has equipped the dock with a quality hitherto unheard on the sub-10k iPod docks.
The dock reproduces the sound spectrum very ably with the mid-range and the high-end frequencies sounding very balanced. The only clipping problems we encountered were at higher volumes as clipping issues started plaguing the dock along side the dock bleeding treble frequencies in excess.
So, for our sound test, we plucked out favorite tracks ranging various genres of music all encoded at 320KBPS. The results were nothing short of spectacular.
As always Sweet Child O' Mine was first on our list of test tracks. The Guns N Roses classic has some distinct passages, which make or break speakers. The first is the opening riff of the song, which has a fat overdriven tone and a good speaker will always bring out the harmonic overtones of the guitar riff. The second - the wailing vocals of Axl Rose and the outro Wah-Wah laced guitar solo is the third. The mid-range sounded sweet and the harmonics did not burst our ears drums overall the Logitech Rechargeable dock passed the 'Sweet Child O' Mine' test.
Now, on the acoustic Metallica ballad Nothing Else Matters, the jangling acoustic chords were serene and the vocals of James Hetfield were warm and baritone. Even the bluesy outro solo maintained an impressive sonic clarity.
We had mentioned that High Hopes were in order for the S715i and so we began testing the Pink Floyd classic. A nuance one has to look out for in High Hopes is the slide guitar solo and the treble response was more than adequate for reproducing this particular facet of the song. Even David Gilmour's husky vocal melodies popped crisply in the mix, giving us an immensely pleasurable dose of psychedelic rock.
Besides this, the harsher forms of music - in particular heavy metal - were handled adequately. Be it Dream Theater's Forsaken or Slayer's Eyes of the Insane, the S715i conquered them all. We enjoyed dollops of bass response thanks to the passive radiators in the rear and a tight chugging mid-range, which pumped out the palm-muted riffage of the metal masters.
The only gripe we have with the S715i is the fact at very high volumes the clipping issues become quite apparent even to the un-trained ear, but when the volume is pumped up, admittedly the decibel levels are extremely high, most will not push the dock this hard.
One feature that we have not mentioned is the fact that it has a portable battery. Logitech claims it lasts for 10 hours on a full charge but take that with a pinch of salt, it lasted between 6.5 to 8 hours for us - which also is pretty darn good for a dock in this price bracket.
So without beating around the bush we would proclaim the Logitech S715i is the best sounding iPod Dock south of Rs10k. While Logitech has stripped it of any aesthetic design flamboyance, it does provide a stunning sonic experience (for the price). Once we couple this with its portable capabilities, it becomes a no brainer for an audio enthusiast.
Sublime Sonic capabilities
Good Battery Life
Shoddy build quality
Poor remote control functionality
Sound Quality: 4.5
Wow Factor: 4
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