Reviewer: Anthony Fordham
At the current rate they’re hitting the market, soon there will be an individual and unique iPod dock for every single iPod owner in the country. Harman Kardon (h/k) offers the latest iteration of this tried-and-true device, bringing its trademark engineering and industrial design to the age-old problem: how can we enjoy our iPods on the road, without having to share headphones?
The Go+Play is simple enough at heart: a stereo auxiliary speaker system for the iPod, with two tweeters and two woofers. These are powered by a proprietary technology Harman Kardon calls ‘Ridge and Atlas transducers’.
The Atlas woofers have a travel distance of nearly 3 cm from peak to peak, which h/k assures us results in ?tight, accurate amplification?. The company is less forthcoming on details about the Ridge tweeters.
The unit also utilises Digital Signal Processing, which means it doesn’t heat up as much as you’d normally expect for a set of speakers this size.
You can mount any iPod with a dock, and there are adaptors to take care of the various versions, including Nanos and the older, narrower units. HK also includes rubber mounts to ensure the iPod fits snugly into the slot on the top. Obviously, the Go+Play looks best with one of the new black iPods.
There’s a USB upstream port so you can sync your iPod without dismounting it, and also a 3.5 mm stereo jack for other audio devices. And for your video-capable iPod, there’s an S-Video output so you can connect the Go+Play to a TV.
Finally, pushing on a panel at the back of the unit reveals a hidden spring-loaded pocket in which nestles the funky but also disappointingly cheap and plasticky remote.
Pump up the volume and the Go+Play offers impressive results. It has that very sharp and clinical digital feel to it, of course, but you will enjoy all the detail from the top end of your music. We had to turn on the iPod’s own Bass Booster to get a thump that pleased us, but listeners who prefer a more balanced sound will be satisfied without the extra rumble.
The remote might be plasticky but it works well, able to control the unit from a considerable distance.
There are a couple of ergonomic issues with the unit. The iPod lies flat in the dock, which is great for stability and, unlike other systems from which the iPod stands proud, protecting the music player from potential knocks. But it does feel weird reaching in under the big stainless-steel handle to control the tunes. It?s also hard to read the iPod’s display from most angles, because of the handle.
When it comes to pure audio, this is a great unit. Which makes it a shame that it doesn’t have a more pure design. Some buyers will love it and it will suit their minimalist loft apartment to a tee. Others will walk into the room and think “who left that handbag there”? Or alternatively “Wow, an old flatiron like my great grandma used to have”.
If it was the most beautiful thing ever, we could forgive the awkward positioning of the iPod under the handle, but as it is, the Go+Play’s appeal to you will depend heavily on how you respond to the idiosyncratic design.