We love
Powerful, room-filling sound
We hate
Poorly-designed remote, ugly front controls, inconveniently large
Verdict
A bold, forthright sound can't make us entirely forgive the Edifier Breathe's design irritations
Launch Price
£169
10 Pages
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Edifier Breathe iF600 iPod dock review 

The Edifier Breathe iF600 iPod dock claims to have the ability to “fill your room” with sound, but at £169, it costs almost as much as an iPod Touch or 160GB iPod Classic. Is this dock, which looks a little like the top bit of a giant, black egg, really at home in the big leagues? Read our Edifier Breathe iF600 iPod dock review to find out.

iPod docks with integrated speakers are as much lifestyle devices as audio products. Sandwiching two, or more, speakers together makes iPod docks convenient, compact and speaker cable-free. It’s the kind of gadget that non-geeky other halves might not object to – compared to a full 5.1 system, anyway.

The front of the Edifier Breathe iF600 is a speaker grille that hides the dock’s main drivers and is home to a few physical controls – volume, fast forward and rewind, and the all-important play-pause button. The real secret of the Edifier Breathe iF600 isn’t on its front, but underneath. Turn the giant egg on its side and you’ll see the driver that makes this dock fulfill its room-filling promise – the subwoofer.

The sub is the main reason why Edifier has let the Breathe pile on a few pounds (it weighs around 5kg). The last thing you want in an iPod dock is for it to start ratting away as soon as you crank up anything remotely approaching a “bangin’ choon”.

As the Edifier Breathe iPod dock’s subwoofer-centric design suggests, the sound is a little on the bass-heavy side, but nowhere near as much as the recently-reviewed Orbitsound T12. What’s disappointing is that there’s no control over the sub’s level, so short of propping-up the Edifier Breathe on a couple of bricks to calm it down a bit, you’re left with the iPod’s own weak EQ.

The keen bass can leave the Edifier Breathe’s lower-end mids sounding a little muddled, but otherwise the sound is beefy and bold, although lacking the insight and detail you’ll hear in top-end iPod docks like the B&W Zeppelin. But comparing the two is a bit like putting a mid-range Mondeo against a Ferrari. It might do for Top Gear, but not Electricpig.

Check out our Best iPod dock Top 5 now

The sound isn’t what disappoints about the Edifier Breathe – its that its looks don’t make up for the sonic compromises of an integrated iPod dock, most notably the loss of proper stereo imaging. Shop around and you’ll find a non-integrated Fatman iTube dock for around the same price, that that’ll outdo the Edifier Breathe’s sound quality without much trouble.

What’s wrong with the Edifier Breathe’s design? From a distance it stands out enough, like a tiny little egg shaped volcano for your living room, but get closer and its looks become more ham-fisted than impressive.

The buttons on the front look cheap – more “My First Hi-Fi” than “America’s Next Top iPod dock” – and the remote control is flat-out poorly designed. It has to house a handful of buttons, as it lets you navigate through your iPod/iPhone’s menu system rather than just skipping through tracks, but the button layout’s not the problem. It’s that if you hold it in the most comfortable one-handed position, your finger slips right over the IR transmitter – you can tap away with gay abandon, but the dock itself won’t hear you.

We’re fans of odd-looking docks, like the JBL radial and the fantastic B&W Zeppelin, but whatever Edifier’s going for with the Breathe, it hasn’t quite aced it. It’s a little too big to be convenient, but the design stumbles mean that it doesn’t pull off that alluring designer flavour.

Gok Wan-like comments aside, the Edifier Breathe iF600 iPod dock is a good-sounding dock that offers a tiny bit of welcome flexibility with the auxiliary input, but when its doing battle with dozens of other docks – some better-looking, others better-sounding, we can only give it a tentative thumbs up.

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