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.�

Read more on Page 2


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� Sound quality was not compromised by either undocking the handset or utilizing wireless transmission between the base and receiver units.

Low Points
� The IS-301 cannot transmit video when the base and receiver units are connected wirelessly or when the handset is detached�
� The lack of iPhone support.

Conclusion
In a sea of iPod docks, Marantz's IS-301 stands out. First of all, this dock works in both wired and wireless modes. Some of the wireless docks I have used in the past have degraded the sound quality. Not so with the IS-301. I enjoyed the flexibility of set-up that the unit offers. In one room, I was able to use a wired connection; in another, I used wireless. I appreciated having the option, even though the wireless connection did not allow the transmission of video or IR control. Another feature that I appreciated was the dial adjustment on the dock handset. The docks I have used in the past all required typical dock inserts, which I had never viewed as a limitation, but rather as a fact of life. Having the dial adjustment now, I have greatly appreciated the ease of being able to swap out multiple iPods.�

If you aren't going to use the enhanced features of the IS-301, you do not need to rush to replace your current dock, but if you do not already have a dock or will use the enhanced features, I strongly recommend giving the IS-301 a close look.


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