I have always been dubious about systems where the speakers are an integrated part of the main unit; worries about the quality of sound which comes from two apparently tiny speakers set in the front of the unit. In the past this has put me off purchasing a Bose system (although I must admit the Bose Sound-dock does not have the same appealing appearance as this machine, but is its direct comparator in terms of price).
However, I was attracted to this great looking system and road tested it in a hi-fi store where I live, trying out Elbows magnificent "Seldom Seen Kid" (particularly Grounds For Divorce, when those guitars kick in), New Orders "Techinque" (for the Bassline on Fine TIme", and a Miracle Mile album. I was duly impressed and handed over my £550.....
On getting home, the system is great - easily set up, and rapidly picking up more DAB Stations than the unit is was replacing (a Pure Legato, which I have continually had issues with, either with the CD not registering or the radio refusing to pick up a single channel), and wow, it does impress.
The two speakers in the front of the unit are supplemented by a sub-woofer in the bottom, which really packs a punch, and the sound is loud and crystal clear. There are a number of options to tweak the sound, either through a bass controller on the back, or through using a series of options on the (cool) remote control, such as Loundness, Equalizer etc. However, the factory settings appear suitable for the type of music I listen to, and I have a collection approaching 5000 cds in addition to 17,000+ tracks on my well known MP3 player.
The remote control is a small circular device which slots in to the top of the unit, also acting as the main means of controlling the system when not detached. The unit is simple to control which adds to its appeal. The remote also allows for complete control over the ipod, enabling you to drop down through playlists and find specific tracks you want, without the need to get up and physically touch the machine.
There is a small telescopic aerial on the rear which seems adequate for both DAB and FM reception (which as I live in a fairly poor reception area this is saying something). The only quibble with the radio is that there are only 5 presets for each of DAB and FM, but this is a minor issue as on DAB is it so easy to find another station through the scrolling menu that it only takes a couple of seconds more to tune to the channel you want. The unit can also be fitted to an external aerial if required. The only other thing - there is no "stop" button, meaning you either have to eject a disc before turning off, or turn off and leave in - I never like just turning the power off when a disc is spinning - it cant be good for it!
The only bit I have not tried yet is the flash drive, but if the quality of the sound through this is as good as all the other functions, it will be fantastic.
So, whilst this is admittedly an expensive investment, it is certainly worth it - at 8kg, the weight is such that there is no vibration and the "ski-like" feet means the unit can sit happily on any relatively solid base quite happily and not vibrate through the unit. The range of finishes the unit comes in (shiny black and shiny white in addition the walnut I purchased) means it would probably fit in with the decor in most rooms.
If you are thinking of buying a "One-stop" system for the majority of your music needs (and there are inputs for auxillary, so turntables or casette units could be added and there are outputs to other recording devices) and you want a system with a quality sound, with £500 or so to invest, you will not go wrong with this unit.