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Customer Review

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Beauty - Updated - Now Fully Working!, 9 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philips DS9800W/10 Fidelio SoundSphere Docking Speakers for iPad/iPhone/iPod with AirPlay (Electronics)
After um-ing and ah-ing about my Zeppelin Air and the drawbacks I've found with it, I decided to buy a set of these so I could compare and then sell/return the speakers I found the most lacking.

The problem with the air was mainly the soundstage - I know I should have known this but it's not until you have to live with it that it really starts to become obvious. The Zeppelin is smart, powerful and classy but you cant get past the fact that the left and right channels are only 8 inches apart so unless you put your face right up to it, you lose out on stereo which is a bigger loss than I'd anticipated. Also the bass doesn't go down as low as i'd like. It's warm and bassy enough in general but its lacking that silken sub-100hz deep bass due to the sub only being 5" and also only having that slender cabinet to reverberate around in.

These Philips speakers are a different proposition altogether. I took them out of the box and was struck by 2 things; how massive and heavy they are and how beautifully designed and finished they are - great first impression!

I plugged them in and got to sorting out the wifi. This took 5 minutes and was a lot easier than the zeppelin. I only had to press a few buttons use my iPhone and it was sorted. So still good.

Then I started playing music and was blown away. Obviously the big difference was the stereo separation, that stereo effect I was missing was back! Philips provide a huge cable to connect the two speakers so you can put them as far apart as you like really (15ft?) The sound was powerful (possibly more so than the Zeppelin) and the bass was noticeably deeper and more authoritative. The main reason for this I suspect is the much larger, heavier cabinets these speakers have for the bass the resonate around in and the fact that each speaker is equipped with its own 5" driver so essentially there is twice the air displacement over the Zeppelins single 5" sub. The soundSphere effect with the floating tweeter sounded great too, clear and sparkly.

Unfortunately after a couple of minutes the tweeter on the right speaker just stopped working. There was no explanation and nothing I could do to get it to work again, it came on randomly for a few more seconds then died again. It felt like the result of faulty wiring. I've read a few reports of these speakers being a bit unreliable and it unfortunately seems to be the case. A real shame considering how beautifully made and solid they appear. The Zeppelin may not sound or look as good as these but at least it has been rock solid this whole time!

So back to Amazon they go, but not for a refund. I want give these another try as I loved the way they sounded so much. Lets hope the second pair they send me actually work! Amazon customer service has been great so I should hopefully have a second pair within the week. Had these speakers worked perfectly as they should have, I would have awarded 5 stars but this was a big enough problem to knock 2 off. Disappointed.

--------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATE:

I've now received my fully working replacements and I have to say (even as an ex Zeppelin owner) that these really have blown me away all over again. The soundstage is of course MUCH better than you can get from ANY one box solution and the size and heft of the beautiful wooden cabinets along with a powerful digital amp and 2 5" drivers combined with the uniquely aligned floating tweeters combine to create a sound that is smooth, luxurious and simply stunning to behold. I feel like I want to listen to my entire music collection all over again.

I'm also a big fan of the way this speaker set makes the dock a standalone separate piece so even though (like the Zeppelin air) this is out of date (using the older 20 pin Apple connector instead of the new thunderbolt type) it doesn't matter as you can just leave it on the box and never use it if you like. They look simply stunning and I challenge anyone not to fall in love with the sound they produce.

It feels like they are in a different class from the Zeppelin Air (and I presume the other one-box solutions out there). Where the Zeppelin feels to me like the super-convenient "iPod Dock" formula taken as far as it can go within the constraints of being a simple 'stick it in your kitchen' one-box device, these are gorgeous audiophile speakers first, that happen to connect to iOS devices. More like something you would have in your living room and sit and listen to with your eyes shut!

An easy 5 stars for me. Lets just hope they keep working!
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Mar 2013, 15:05:25 GMT
Listener says:
Is the sound better than a mini hifi?

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Mar 2013, 18:04:47 GMT
mausito says:
Definetly better than an hifi, they are the best!!!

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Apr 2013, 01:22:30 BST
Last edited by the author on 6 Apr 2013, 01:27:04 BST
At the price I would expect them to be good ... they are, at full price, almost as much as my active near field reference speakers in my recording studio which, whilst not as pretty, are highly likely to blow these away. There must be several active monitors for less than half this price which with the addition of an airport express would allow you to have excellent airplay in one room - for example these http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_3_9?url=search-alias%3Dmi&field-keywords=krk+rokit+6&sprefix=KRK+Rokit%2Cmi%2C202

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Apr 2013, 11:48:29 BST
The issue I have with using Monitor speakers for enjoying music is that by their very design they are intended to be extremely flat and neutral sounding. If that's what you enjoy then great, but personally I find that sort of sound uninspiring to listen to when I'm enjoying music. I haven't listened to the speakers you've referenced but I have a feeling that the sound they produce is likely to be less 'exciting' in their pursuit of accuracy. I guess it all comes down to what you like and I certainly like these..

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jul 2014, 17:54:12 BST
Last edited by the author on 14 Jul 2014, 17:54:29 BST
D. Kemecsi says:
Are they still working? My first pair got the red blinking light of death after 6 months, and looking online that happens to many users.
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