Top positive review
52 people found this helpful
Superb sound and easy setup
on 10 May 2012
This is an updated review based on a weeks use with the newly released firmware
**Air Play Update** [If you're experiencing connectivity issues with AirPlay and have an active microwave oven within 6 metres of the Contour 200i Air (or your iPhone/iPad) the microwave may well be the cause. Microwave ovens emit radio waves/radiation that has a very similar frequency to WiFi and will disrupt WiFi connectivity. I tested the Contour 200i Air with an iPhone 4S and an 800w Microwave that was 4 metres away from the speaker. I streamed audio to the speaker using AirPlay without any problem, then switched on the microwave and within 4 seconds the AirPlay connection failed. I could not reconnect AirPlay to the speaker, until I had powered the Contour 200i Air off and on again. So be careful where you situate your speaker if it is in or very near a kitchen. Note, this connectivity problem is not specific to the Contour 200i Air, all WiFi signals are disrupted by nearby microwaves]
The speaker is solidly built, compact (37 x 23 x 17cm), made to a very high specification. It's matte black in colour, bisected by a silver band that houses the buttons. The solid back houses the Ethernet port, 3.5mm Audio in, DC power input, WiFi setup button and a digital coax connector. The front is made of speaker fabric under which are housed the two 9cm drive units (rated at 18W RMS each), between which protrudes a shallow tray on which is the standard Apple dock connector. On the underside between shallow sturdy rubberised feet are two downward firing bass ports. Location of the unit effects the quality of the bass - placed on fabric the bass will be more muted, placed on a solid hollow object (kitchen cabinet) the bass will have more resonance.
The silver band has a Power/Standby on the left and a mute, volume up and volume down on the right. Even if powered "off" the unit wakes up when selected as an AirPlay source. iPhone 4S and 3GS and a first generation iPad all seated easily but firmly, resting against the speaker grill. iPhone 4 bumpers and Apple iPad 1 cases will need to be removed to ensure secure docking. iPhone 3GS dock with a slim case.
There is a coloured LED at the bottom left hidden under the speaker fabric which lights up on activation and shows the speaker status by colour and solid or flashing lights.
Power is provided by a separate block with a fixed approximately 1m cord that plugs into the speaker and a shorter interchangeable UK/European plug lead. A small remote is supplied which provides, stop, play, pause, skip forward and back, menu and volume controls - this only works on docked devices and doesn't work over AirPlay
Setup is incredibly easy, simply power up the speaker, dock your IOS device, press the WiFi button at the back of the speaker for 1 second, and when prompted on your IOS device, confirm you want to share your connection information and your speaker now has you network security and network configuration. You can also use the speakers built in web interface by pressing the speakers WiFi button for 5 seconds to put it in server mode for manual setup. The web interface allows greater configuration of network settings and the renaming of the AirPlay name. Either method will ensure your speaker is instantly available for AirPlay. It is important to ensure your speaker has access to the Internet via your router as this is how it will automatically update it's firmware and sound profile.
Voice reproduction is better even than Pure's excellent Evoke 3, providing an uncomplicated, mellow sound which maintains the original voices timbre and detail. It handles pop and rock music with ease, from Jessie J's "Domino" through Professor Green's "Read all about it" to Rush's "Spirit of Radio" it romps along providing a driving bass but never swamping out the other frequencies. I found myself replaying tracks to listen to hidden detail I just could not hear on my other speakers. The speaker is just at home with classical music, showing restraint for the quieter pieces and dynamic energy for the more forte pieces. It's full of life with Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" never loosing the pace and individual elements.
I tested AirPlay with a mid range Netgear single band N router and an iPhone 4S, 3GS and iPad (all IOS 5.1.1) . There is a 3-4 second buffer delay after selecting an AirPlay source before the audio starts. There was no discernible difference in quality with a docked IOS device. Over the entire week I only experienced one dropout (loss of connectivity), and that was probably due to environmental factors.
The Contour 200i Air which I initially purchased shipped with pre release firmware, which had a very bass heavy, booming audio profile and experienced intermittent AirPlay disconnection. So I returned the speaker and posted a one star review. I was contacted by Pure who explained this was a firmware issue and tried again with a new speaker updated with the new firmware. The new firmware made a dramatic improvement, so if you already have a Contour 200i Air I highly recommend that you connect it to the internet to allow the system to upgrade the firmware.
The Contour 200i Air provides a exceptional full balanced sound for such a small foot print. It proved excellent for voice, pop, rock and classical. Prepare to re-listen to your music to find detail you had never heard before. AirPlay works very well, allowing you to still use your iPad whilst streaming music to the speakers.
Thoroughly recommended, five stars.