I live in a 300 square foot studio, yet I have a stereo amp that could fill a large dance club -- 770 watts. Despite all that potential boom, I only have a pair of Athena speakers plugged in that can handle 125-watts, but hey, if I wanted, I could blow your world.
Ironically, despite having so much power in the "living room," the way my space is laid out, you can't really hear the music from the kitchen. I started looking for an iPod dock/stereo small enough to fit on the shelf in my kitchen, but then thought, "do I really need 700-watts of stereo in my living room?" My search expanded to iPod docks that could easily be moved from kitchen to living room. Over the next few months I'll be taking a look at all kinds of iPod docks in the hopes of finding the perfect solution. Maybe my insights will help you on your search. We start with the Sonoro Eklipse...
No this thing doesn't download free music for the rest of your life. It's just an iPod dock/CD player/radio/alarm clock. A very pricey iPod dock/CD player/radio/alarm clock.
Ok, moving on. The eklipse is very nice looking, with it's lacquered black finish, sexy curved edges, and sleek front, but that's where the gushing ends. Two things that any iPod dock should do well -- play audio and provide an easy interface to do so -- don't make the $500 cut.
While playing a variety of musical genres, from reggae to death metal, I noticed that the eklipse misses on the mids. The bass is heavy, vocals and instruments sounds muddy, almost as if they're being played underwater. When Mastedon's "Crystal Skull" came on, the intro sounded like someone was playing drums on a plastic bucket, when in fact the drummer plays on a 50-gallon steel drum.
One of the impressive features of the eklipse is that, despite being so diminutive, it really pumps up the volume. Too bad everything sounds like it's being blasted underwater.
Now for user interface. Despite having a pretty OLED screen, the eklipse doesn't show what's being played or give you control of iPod playback via its display. Instead the screen shows what mode's selected -- an iPod icon. Um, I'm pretty sure I could have figured that out on my own.
To get through iPod menus you can use the eklipse's remote or stereo controls, but you have to select options via your iPod's screen. Annoying when you're on the other side of the room since an iPod screen isn't designed to be read from distances, but the eklipse's easily could.
Once you're in the menu, you can't step out. You have to wait for it to time out. This is annoying since the volume controls morph into directional controls when in menu mode and you won't be able to adjust volume until the menu times out.
Let me walk you though a scenario which will really explain how frustrating this is.
Using the remote I go into the menu, find a song to play, and select it. It automatically starts, but the volume is way too high. I go to turn down the volume and realize I can't, on the remote or on the actual dock, because the system is still in menu mode. Every time I press a button on the remote or the dock the menu's timer restarts. The menu times out on its own in six seconds, so for six seconds you have to patiently wait while Mastodon is playing at waaaay over 10.
It's a shame this guy doesn't perform better because his body is slammin', but you know me; gotta have some brains with that six-pack!