Provides: iPod/iPhone dock and speaker with FM clock radio Developer:Geneva Lab Price: $279 – $300 Availability:Out now
Despite a deceptively simple exterior (which vaguely suggests a grown-up version of Duplo toys), the Geneva Model S packs some serious technology into a package that is both diminutive and impeccable. No matter from what angle you look at the Model S, you simply never get away from one word to describe it: precise. Luckily, that word applies to both the workmanship and sound quality Geneva delivers. Available in black, silver, red, or white, you can fit the Model S into virtually any decor—red and white look great in modern/contemporary setups, while the black or silver can fit in nicely in a more traditional decor.
To simplify its appearance, all the controls on the Model S are hidden until needed. A small indentation on the top of the unit controls power to the device; touch it and the other buttons light up, revealing iPod and volume controls (Geneva calls this TouchLight). Place the unit in iPod mode and the iPod dock rotates into view automatically. Undock the iPod and turn the unit off, it swivels back to the closed position. The TouchLight and motorized dock effects are both functional and beautiful; the entire affair suggests James Bond at his tuxedo-wearing, gadget-packing best.
The included remote is also functional, and in fact provides one of the only ways to control many features, such as setting the time and FM station presets, and adjusting the bass/treble response. Sadly, its design does not compare to that of the main unit (does anybody other than Apple really nail remote design?), though build quality is still top notch. Build quality of the entire Model S is exceptional; unlike many iPod speaker docks which are flimsy plastic affairs, the overall impression conveyed by the Model S is one of solidity. Like a fine Swiss timepiece, it is easy to imagine one of Geneva’s speakers lasting for decades.
In addition to being an iPod dock, the Model S also offers a digital FM clock radio with an external antenna included. There are six station presets, for which the remote buttons are labeled P, R, E, S, E, and T. Although clever, it can take a moment to figure out what those buttons do!
As a clock radio, the Model S can store one alarm setting, will wake you using the last used operation mode (radio or iPod), and can be snoozed/disabled using either the alarm or the TouchLight controls.
There is also a standard 1/8″ headphone jack for attaching non-iPod media devices. Upon first opening the Model S’ box, you are greeted with a single red word on a white background: Manual. Read it; at only four pages long, it is well worth the time.
Swiss precision is evident in abundance when listening; it is virtually impossible not to think of a punctual, impeccable Swiss engineer fine tuning each speaker. The cabinet contains all the elements of the HiFi system, perfectly calibrated to deliver a sound that is natural, powerful, and present. The Model S features crisp stereo separation, without artificially pumped up bass or processing to give a wider soundstage. For a speaker of this size, the sound is impressive, though the Model S is best for use in a single room (maybe a nice studio apartment). Geneva includes a small metal pedestal for elevating the unit about six inches, which makes a nice aesthetic statement. Bass output is a bit reduced when the pedestal is used, but can be easily compensated by adjusting the bass response from the remote control.
Although using the word flat to describe any aspect of the Model S is an injustice, the sound it produces does not feature any gimmicky distortion for “ultra-mega-earblaster-bass” or “vocal enhancers;” without manually adjusting the bass/treble response, the sound produced by the Model S is remarkably true. Bass is tight, well articulated, and properly reproduced, with an experience like that of a good pair of earbuds. You will hear all the low end whump whump of a good dance number, as well as the subtle nuance of the string bass in jazz numbers, but there will not be any walls shaking. Midrange is delightfully unmolested, so vocals shine through clearly, never overemphasized. Classical cellos and pop drum machine beats are both equally balanced, so there should be little complaint from anybody regardless of their musical preference. The Model S cranks out exceptional sound at the high end: soprano vocals soar, vocoder riffs glide easily, and flute stylings are all equally well delivered.
Geneva has managed to pack exceptional sound quality into a tiny speaker that is as pleasant to look at as it is to hear. If accurate reproduction and finely balanced sound are just as important as design, the Model S is a hands down winner.
If you need something larger or smaller, be sure to check out the rest of Geneva’s lineup, all of which are helpfully labelled from XS to XL, indicating their relative size.