As computers, phones, MP3 players and the like become more advanced they also converge in what they can provide and music is a prime example of this as it has now reached the point where having a different sound system for your PC, iPod and iPhone is not only completely pointless but also incredibly expensive, so any system that combines all of these is onto a winner already.
And that’s where the Sony SRS-GD50iP speakers comes in. Designed primarily to be a set of 2.1 PC speakers they also double as an iPod/iPhone dock and (thanks to the 3.5mm line in at the back) pretty much anything else you wish to play through it — the most obvious options being MP3 players or phones.
One of the first things you notice is that the satellite speakers besides from being very easy on the eye (which I will come to in a minute) are also pretty small especially compared to the 30+cm subwoofer which makes them brilliant for perching on any available desk or nearby space and the small rubber feet do a reasonable job of keeping them in the same place when nudged by stray paper — almost as good a job as they do collecting dust!
Moving onto the sub and this is in my eyes almost the perfect size for a PC/docking example as it’s big and powerful enough to create all the bass you really need (to the point where you can hear it all through a house) but not so big that it takes up an excessive amount of space or is inconvenient to move around.
The last part of the setup is the central dock which serves the dual purpose of being a central point to control the speakers and allowing you to dock your iPod Touch up as well as dealing with all the cabling in a very neat and discrete manner.
Dealing with the former first and it really is a lesson in simplicity that others should follow — a large rotary volume controller sits flush to the panel with orange lights indicating the volume which of course appear to move round the button as you rotate it, something that it is hard not to love! At a press of the ‘bass’ button this also controls the level of the bass, something that is also surprisingly fun to play with!
Moving onto the rest of the panel and you also have a small button to change the input (from PC to iPod to Line-In), a switch to allow you to sync your iPod with your PC, a front headphone jack allowing you to easily use headphones without crawling around the back of the PC and of course the dock.
The latter is perhaps the biggest disappointment of these speakers in my opinion — as someone who doesn’t actually own an iPod (yes I know, shock horror!) it was empty 99% of the time and this somewhat spoilt the sleek image so I personally would have loved there to have been a cover over this just for aesthetic purposes, but for the vast majority that do own one it is great and incredibly easy to use.
The last part of separate ‘hardware’ worth mentioning is the remote which besides being small, plastic-y and mostly pointless (as you are sitting by your computer when you use this most of the time) does its job reasonably well and does allow you to flick through tracks but unfortunately only when using an iPod and of course you do have to be close enough to read the screen!
Whilst we’re on the subject of shortcomings one would have thought that given the number of people that might want to use a device with a 3.5mm headphone jack (if you wanted to use a phone of non-Apple MP3 player for example) Sony would have spared the 50-odd pence expense to include a jack-to-jack lead in the box to allow you to easily play from these devices especially when they manage to supply both UK and European power leads in the box; of course if you are like me and have on lying around that is no problem, but I can imagine most people don’t!
But that is pretty much the end of my gripes as I was very impressed with these speakers — even straight out the box where they were incredibly easy to set up, something that literally took me about a minute to do. You could argue perhaps that the leads for the satellite speakers are a little small at 1m, but you do have to remember that they are at heart PC speakers designed to be on a desk, and very few people have desks 2m wide!
They also look really great despite the generally subtle design; the minimalist finish on each of the four sections looks really nice and emphasises the orange volume lights nicely, and this combined with the great versatility and easy set-up of the speakers makes them great for parties!
Finally we get onto sound quality, something which is often overlooked when you are distracted by the looks, but fortunately Sony haven’t been too much! Whilst it is fair to say that certain music styles favour these speakers more (I found that oddly jazz and trance seemed to favour the setup the best) there are none that sound in any way poor, and I definitely prefer these over my admittedly ageing previous set!
Of course if you are using the PC or an input that has some sort of equaliser that really helps and boosts the quality to that of ‘great’ but unless you are incredibly picky you are going to have no complaints with these!
So that’s the Sony SRS-GD50iP PC speakers with iPhone/iPod dock and I would thoroughly advise anyone looking to by PC speakers in the near future to give them a good look especially if you are the owner of anything Apple which will only boost the already versatile nature of the speakers. They look great, they provide good quality sound and they are incredibly ergonomic and I can’t see what else you would want from a set of 2.1 PC speakers (except perhaps a 3.5 jack to jack lead!).