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REVIEW: SANDSTROM SRUN11 IPOD & IPHONE DAB RADIO

Low price designer sound system

If you’re looking for a dock for your iPod or iPhone then you have a vast array of devices to choose from, and a vast difference in price points as well.

Sandstrom are hoping to capture the “I don’t want rubbish, but I don’t want to spend the earth” crowd with their latest docking system, the SRUN 11.

It’s a feature rich device which also doesn’t skimp when it comes to design and build quality, but does it sound as good as it looks?  Read on to find out.

Design

The first thing that struck me when I opened up the SRUN11′s box was the overall design.  The front panel is crafted from high quality brushed aluminium which gives it a rather snazzy feel.  At the same time, the rest of the casing is made from a reasonable quality plastic, with the speaker grill having a proper fabric cover rather than a plastic grill.

The front of the unit features a blue backlit display which shows off DAB and RDS information, as well as relaying music information from an iPod or iPhone.  It’s also used to navigate the options menus for changing settings and implementing alarms, etc.

Controls on the device itself are plentiful, there’s a very fluid volume knob, alongside a second one for radio tuning.  There are also control buttons for play/pause, skipping tracks, equalizer settings and a variety of buttons for navigating the menus.

The remote control is as equally well designed, if a little on the heavy side.  Its back and sides are made from a single piece of brushed aluminium, while the front is an inlaid piece of plastic with inset buttons.  I initially found the remote to be a little hit and miss at times, turned out the battery was on its way out, so it’s worth checking if yours doesn’t seem to behave itself.

To the right of the device you’ll find the removable iPhone/iPod dock which allows you to charge your device and playback music from it.  Also included is a dual DAB/FM tuner allowing you to pick up both analogue and digital radio transmissions.

Connectivity is topped off with a pair of auxiliary inputs on the rear of the device.  Fantastic for connecting an MP3 player or record deck to for some old school sounds.

Overall it’s a very well designed piece of kit, you’d be pushed to find a device in the same price range which looks and feels as nice as the SRUN11.

Sound Quality

Built into the unit are twin tweeter speakers, each with 5W of power, plus an 18W subwoofer.  That’s not enough power to fill Wembley Stadium, but it should suit most rooms in the home just fine.

Unfortunately the sound produced by the SRUN11 doesn’t quite match up to its looks.  While it’s perfectly listenable, I’ve heard better docks at this price point.  But maybe the gorgeous looks are throwing me off, and I’m expecting too much from a dock that tips the scale at around the £100 mark.

At low volumes you might be left thinking that the subwoofer isn’t up to much, but if you crank it up to full volume then it’s clear that the tweeters are being pushed near their limit.

That’s not to say that there isn’t enough “loudness” there, but clarity begins to disappear at around two thirds volume, anything past that and you’ll definitely begin to lose sound quality in favour of volume.

There is a “happy zone” in the middle, where the tweeters and subwoofer work well together, it’s just a shame that there isn’t that kind of peaceful coexistence throughout the entire volume range.

That being said, it’s a lot better than other docks that I’ve looked at recently from established manufacturers like Philips and Sony.

When it comes to DAB and FM reception, I live in a notorious signal black spot, but thankfully the SRUN11 is able to tune in to most stations with no issues.  DAB broadcasts are crystal clear and navigation is simple via the remote or buttons on the unit.

Living with it.

The only problem I’ve had with this unit is where to put it.  At 54cm wide and nearly 20cm tall it wouldn’t fit in my entertainment, and it was too deep to fit on any windowsill in my modest flat.  54cm is pretty wide for a speaker dock, in fact most separate systems are narrower than that.

In the end I resolved to place it on a sideboard in the kitchen, where it sits quite happily and gets use every day.

It’s got multiple alarm settings built in, so you can tell it to wake you up on weekdays at a set time, and weekends at a later time.  It’ll playback from FM/DAB or a connected iPhone/iPod, or just give you a more traditional beeping tone to get you out of bed.  Alarms can be silenced on the device itself or from the remote control.

While on the subject of the remote, though a little heavy it does seem to be completely bomb proof.  Unfortunately the reception angle on the device itself doesn’t seem to be that great, so you may find yourself repositioning it in order to get the best response from the remote.

Conclusions.

Other than that little niggle, the SRUN11 is a great option if you need a discreet sound system for any room in the house.  It gets extra points if you want to use it in a bedroom due to the excellent alarm function, but it works well in pretty much any room.

If you’re entertainment centre is big enough then it would be a good low-cost alternative to a soundbar speaker for your flatscreen TV.  The sound quality is definitely better than most flatscreen TV speakers, and not far behind that produced by bespoke soundbar systems.

The design is flawless, and well in excess of what you’d expect at this pricepoint.  The use of real aluminium is refreshing and the whole thing feels well built, with the controls in particular looking and feeling the part of a much more expensive system.

Sound quality doesn’t quite match the design, but it’s still perfectly acceptable and, as mentioned previously, better than some more expensive alternative by better known manufacturers.

Overall, it’s a thumbs up from me.

Author

Matt

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