Marantz IS301 iPod Dock Reviewed

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iPod docks are everywhere these days. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the fastest-growing category in home audio, as there are 170,000,000 (and growing) iPods and iPhones looking for a place to call home. Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical when it was suggested that I take a look at Marantz's newest iPod dock, the $250 IS-301, as I hold Marantz to very high audio standards and the low-fi music on most people's iPods isn't the rocket fuel I expect to feed to a high-performance audio system.

The IS-301 is a four-part wireless iPod dock that consists of a receiver unit with audio/video outputs that plugs into your stereo system, a dock base station that can connect to the receiver unit wirelessly or through one or two CAT-5 cables, a detachable handset that sits in a base and holds your iPod and, lastly, an IR remote control. The receiver unit has an IR flasher input and a RS-232 port for control options. It can connect to other Bluetooth devices that use the A2DP protocol. The industrial design is very clean and modern, which means the IS301 is not one of those components your significant other will insist on hiding out of sight.

The handset features a clever dial adjustment that allows quick and simple adjustment to accommodate most iPods, but notably not an iPhone. This adjustment came in very handy when friends came over bringing various model iPods. I was able to turn a dial and stick these iPods into the handset rather than digging around for the right dock adapter. When the base unit is connected to the receiver via CAT-5 cables, it can be placed far away from the receiver and stereo system. Using two CAT-5 cables will allow the transmission of video as well as audio signals. While you may be thinking it's no big deal, I don't use an iPod as my video source. This allows what is on the screen of your iPod to be viewed on your main display, a nice feature, especially with the new cover flow feature.

The structure of the IS-301 allows for an amazing amount of flexibility in set-up and positioning. The base can be positioned in a location that allows a wired connection (preferable for its ability to transmit video), but it can also be placed in a location where it is impracticable to run wires. Regardless of where the base is placed, the wireless handset can be removed from the base and carried around. If you prefer, you can use the supplied remote and leave the handset in the base where the iPod can charge and video can be transmitted.

High Points
• Marantz's IS-301 is extremely versatile in its design, as it can accommodate a variety of set-up configurations and iPods with ease.
• The IS-301's design and functionality are a cut above the majority of iPod docks on the marked. 

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