Price (RRP): $499
Edifier’s Luna5 Encore IF500 eschews the square lines of most other iPod docks, positioning its drivers instead within a large circular speaker that looks more like an oversized match head rather than the moon it is presumably designed to resemble. This speaker unit stands around 44cm tall and measures 42cm across, so will make something of a statement wherever you place it. The pundits at the 2010 Las Vegas international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) certainly liked the cut of its jib, though, naming it an Honoree at the International CES Innovations 2010 Design and Engineering Awards (audio components category).
Behind the black grille cloth, the speaker unit contains a 5.75 inch subwoofer, two 2.75 inch midrange drivers and a pair or 2.5 inch tweeters, according to Edifier. “Unique vibration and resonance control technologies” are incorporated to enhance audio quality and power output is stated as 2 x 10 watts + 35 watts (subwoofer).
The speaker unit is mounted on a semi-circular base plate that provides the dock adaptor for iPods, a red LED display and a number of touch-sensitive light-up control buttons – power, volume up/down, fast forward and rewind. There is also an input selector button for switching between iPod, the Encore’s inbuilt FM radio and an external (Aux) audio device. These connect via a 2.5mm jack secreted behind a rubber peel at the front of the base plate, below the infra-red sensor.
The AC power adaptor connects to the rear of the IF500, 12 black plastic iPod adaptors are supplied, along with various cables (2.5mm to 3.5mm, 3.5mm to RCA, and 3.5mm to 2.5mm) for connecting other equipment. While many other docks ship with a cheap and easy-to-lose card-like remote, the Luna5 IF500 is supplied with a 24cm-long handpiece that, in operation, turned out to be just as disappointing. But more on that later.
With a footprint around 23cm deep and 25cm across, the IF500 needs to be located on a tabletop rather than a bedside, and like all audio equipment, will disperse sound better into your living space better when positioned at ear level. And spread the sound is what it did, easily filling our 4 x 5m room with beats and tunes from the playlists of our Nano and iPhone. (Note, the IF500 supports iPhone only in Airplane mode. In this mode you are unable to take or make calls.)
Spherical speaker cabinet designs claim lower diffraction and resonance, the benefit of which is reduced distortion. These characteristics may have been in play with the IF500 because audio quality was better than expected – certainly above the average dock system. Bass didn’t plumb great depths, but there was enough reach to deliver good low-frequency kick from dance tracks – and without too much distortion. Crucial midrange performance was sometimes thin, but treble was detailed and clear.
Control over the playlist is critical for any iPod dock audio system, and the touch sensitive controls on the IF500’s base plate provided access to all the necessary operations and were pleasingly responsive. Step away from the unit, however, and you’re stuck with the remote handset. This worked sporadically during our test period and only when pointed directly at the unit’s IR receiver from less than a metre away. We experimented further from a range of angles and distances with no joy, and new batteries (2 x AA) did not improve things either.
Assuming the failings of the remote control were unique to our review sample, the Edifier Luna5 Encore IF500 stands out from the bulk of available iPod docks for looks and sound. For music reproduction it compares well with systems from other manufacturers that sell for twice its price.