Lab Test: Players and Dockers – Yamaha PDX-50 and GenevaSound Model S

Dave Bullard
28 April, 2010
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Yamaha PDX-50

The Yamaha PDX-50 is similar to the Bose SoundLink, but instead of playing music from your Mac it streams music directly from your iPod or iPhone.

It does this via a transmitter which plugs into the dock socket of your iPod/iPhone and uses Yamaha’s own AirWired technology to send your tunes to the speaker system.

AirWired is said to have a range of 30m, and I got 25m with a clear line of sight outside. In the house, however, all it could manage was about 8m, and the signal tended to drop out with movement.

When it comes to sound, the PDX-50 is a good performer – delivering what it should at the $500 mark. Music is well modulated and pleasant to listen to, though it does lack the detail and depth of others in this Lab Test.

It performs equally well across all genres, but won’t take being pushed too loud.

The PDX-50 is made for iPhone, which means that it will mute the sound when a call comes through.

So far, so good … but the PDX-50 falls down when it comes to build quality. The plastics used by Yamaha feel cheap, and there’s a feeling that the components could have been better designed.

In particular, the transmitter that plugs into your iPod/iPhone feels flimsy when compared to what Belkin and Griffin are doing, for example. And its charging cradle is no better.

The speaker box itself looks fine, and comes in four colours (black, blue, grey and pink), but what Yamaha’s done with the PDX-50 is take the PDX-30 and replace its top iPod dock with a stumpy antenna that just looks like an afterthought.

There’s no remote since you’re using your iPod or iPhone to directly control the music. Controls on the speaker unit itself are limited to Volume Up/Down.

Australian Macworld’s buying advice. The PDX-50 is a nice unit with pleasing sound, but is let down by build quality that doesn’t match its $500 price.

Update (8 June, 2010): If you’re contemplating purchasing the PDX-50, Yamaha has confirmed that it will work with an iPad. Just plug the transmitter in, and you’re off. This actually makes the PDX-50 a good option for anyone who needs an audio solution for an iPad when most other models of speaker solutions have a dock too small for Apple’s tablet.

GenevaSound Model S

In January I reviewed the GenevaSound Model L, and gave it a well-deserved five mice out of five. This Model S is its far smaller brother and is even more impressive for its size.

While it can’t quite match the power of the rest of the family – the M, L, XL and XXL – it’s not far off the mark when it comes to finesse, musicality and tonal balance. You would honestly swear the sound was impossible to produce from a unit not too much bigger than a box of tissues.

Like the other models, the S has a lacquered finish in red, white or black. The front metal grille has that distinctive bump in the middle, and hides a discreet LED display. It sits on four vibration-damping feet or, if you prefer, on a supplied pedestal which also frees up some space on the bedside table.

On top there are two lovely features. The first is the TouchLight controls – touch-sensitive areas which glow gently then light up fully when touched. These cover Mode, Menu, Play/Pause and Skip functions. The power button is just a fingertip-sized depression at the back right. Nice. A remote control is also in the box.

The second great feature on top is the motorised dock. It opens when the mode is switched from tuner to iPod, and automatically closes when the iPod is removed, protecting the pin connector and giving the S a classier look.

Australian Macworld’s buying advice. Swiss company Geneva Labs has really hit the bullseye here. If you appreciate your music and want an iPod speaker system with alarm clock and radio, this is the one you want. In fact, even if you don’t want the radio and alarm, it’s still a top choice for smaller rooms or your office. It’s such a perfect little unit that I can recommend it on every count.

Click here to go back to the Ravon i332 and Bose SoundLink.

Click here to go to the B&W Zeppelin Mini and Sonos ZonePlayer S5.

GenevaSound Model S

RRP $599
Cons None
Pros Audiophile sound; great looks and build quality
Audio Dynamics
Rating 5

Yamaha PDX-50

Cons Very average build quality; limited wireless range
Pros Easy to listen to; controlled directly from iPod/iPhone
RRP $499
Rating 3

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