May 31, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
The D+M Group, made up of the brands Denon, Marantz, McIntosh and Boston Acoustics, is getting serious about speaker docks for your iDevices. I spent some time this week visiting with D+M product managers, and about half of the time was devoted to checking out the several new speaker docks the company is launching.
D+M is in some hefty company in this market. First off there’s Bose, the company that started the premium speaker dock trend, but in addition there’s Bowers and Wilkins, NAD, Bang & Olufsen, Monitor, Arcam and even Samsung with that company’s new tube amp docks. High on the list of features is of course, AirPlay. As one Boston Acoustics’ product manager correctly observed, people have gotten so accustomed to the ease of control that the iPhone and iPad provide that they don’t want to replace experience with a remote—which is exactly what physical docks force users to do. AirPlay lets users keep the music source in their hands while the music itself comes from the speakers. Bluetooth, and to a somewhat lesser extent, DLNA, also offer a similar solution, and one or both of these are included in most of the new D+M dock products.
The line up starts with Boston Acoustics, which offers an interesting wireless multiroom option. The $399 Music Center (MC350) dock is a straight-forward dock with Bluetooth. When matched with an MC Plus One speaker it becomes a simple multiroom system. The MC350 can transmit audio to the $250 MC Plus One up to 50 feet wirelessly via a Kleernet connection. Up to six MC Plus One units can be part of the audio network.
For people who want DLNA and AirPlay, the MC200 ($399) serves that need.
The latest entries from Denon are the Cocoon and the Cocoon Portable.
The Denon Cocoon is a 100 watt iPad/iPhone dock with internet ratio (through built-in vTuner), AirPlay, DLNA and a solid metal base for $599. The Cocoon Portable is a 25 percent smaller, 50 watt system with a 5-hour rechargeable battery. It’s also weather resistant, so you can take it outside without too much fear. It will sell for $599.
D+M’s flagship doc product is the Consolette. The company says it harkens to Marantz’ old audiophile roots with a large round front (OLED) display and wood trim. The 150 watt system uses two 4-inch main drivers and 2 BMR tweeters. Included technology is a 9-band equalizer, AirPlay, FM tuner and DLNA. It will be offered at $1,199.
Check out the Denon and Marantz new home theater receivers here.
More about AirPlay and how to use it here.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.