Good Questions: iPod Docking Station Recommendation?

Good Questions: iPod Docking Station Recommendation?

Gregory Han
Jan 29, 2009

Dear Unplggd, we moved in June to a house where the living room, dining room and kitchen are essentially one room. I am looking for a sound system for that space. I grew up with a 4-component stereo with floor speakers, carted it to college and everywhere, but now, I want clean and easy. We bought a bigger ipod and are looking for a higher-end docking station. I've forgone wireless speakers once I realized I'd be charging batteries all the time. One such system that has caught my attention is the Roth ALFiE, but it seems fairly new and I can't find any user reviews. Several people have recommended a "5.1 system", which seems simply like a surround sound sytem, other's have said the Alfie's price tag is too high, but my 4-component Sony stereo with floor speakers was $400 back in 1984, and the Alfie, along with an iPod and a pair of extra speakers, would probably come in around $1k. That seems pretty good for a sound system and storage medium imo. So, can anyone shed light on the ALFiE please? Thanks! Caro

We don't have any experience with the Roth ALFiE ourselves (though we would certainly would love to have our in-house audiophile, Peter, get one send over the pond to put thru the tests). The ALFie looks to be a well appointed iPod docking station, with the CD, AM/FM, DVD and alarm clock features, making it a decent secondary television set media unit (video out is component or S-video; no HDMI...boo!) with 2.1 sound. The pop-out iPod dock is a nice feature and the compact finish makes it a good small space choice, but we'll quote UK home theater mag, Whathifi's assessment to give you some details worth considering before you plunk down that $1,000 for a device that may or may not meet your audio needs:

"Sound from CD, radio or iPod is a slightly more qualified success. The ALFiE is never less than listenable, delivering music with assurance and enthusiasm – but the Roth's bass notes sound boxy and overconfident.

There are tone controls available to try to even things out, but the exhibitionist bottom end is not to be dissuaded.

ALFiE gets a lot right – so why only four stars? Mostly, it's because the machine is a trial to use. The remote control is unpleasant and uncertain, FM radio does without RDS, the display forgets how long a second lasts when playing an iPod, you can't eject a disc when using a different input and the touch-sensitive controls on the unit aren't sensitive at all."

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