The Kensington SX2000 iPod dock promises to provide amazing sound in a compact unit that also charges your iPod when connected. It has a large flat rectangular speaker which promises 'room filling stereo sound' without distortion thanks to NXT's advanced SurfaceSoundÂ® flat panel speaker technology.
I bought one of these a few months ago, to replace aging laptop speakers connected to my iPod in the kitchen. The Kensington seemed like a good choice as it is a single compact unit, and it would keep my iPod charged.
Opening the box
The SX2000 came in a brightly coloured box with the "Made for iPod" logo. Inside the box is a power brick, mains lead, a set of iPod adapters, and of course the main SX2000 unit. A quick examination of the main unit revealed that it is solidly constructed and the colours (white and grey) matched my iPod perfectly. On the reverse of the grey speaker are a series of holes, presumably to reflect sound from the rear. There are connections for line-in and power at the rear of the iPod dock which sticks out from the right of the unit. The line-in allows most devices with a headphone or line out connection to be used with the SX2000.
The iPod dock itself comes with removable adapters to accommodate most models of iPod, from the current 5th generation iPod video, to the 'candy bar' Nanos, back to 2G greyscale iPods. My 4th generation iPod photo fitted perfectly, and after the mains adapter was connected, began to charge straight away.
The only controls on the Kensington SX2000 are the three buttons for power, volume up, and volume down. All EQ adjustments should be made on your iPod, according to the manual.
Once the SX2000 was connected up, and my iPod docked and charging, it was time to give it a workout by listening to some different types of music.
I have to be honest in that I expected a good sound from the speakers. Reviews on Amazon had people raving about its "room filling sound" and from the weight and solidity of the design, it looked promising. The Kensington website itself raves about the "superior bass response and sound balance". It had previously sold for Â£80 here in the UK, a not insignificant price for a set of mp3 player speakers.
Whilst I'll give the Kensington SX2000 points for design and build, where it really lets the show down is right where it matters. Sound quality.
I think that the word "flat" to describe the quality of sound from the speakers might perhaps be too generous, suggesting that the frequency response was solid; it is not. The Kensington produces some of the most boring sound I've heard from a set of speakers. It completely lacks detail. Classical music turns into a harsh cocophany of noise, electronica looses its impact, and rock, well, just doesn't. I suppose that the term "room filling" could be interpreted as, when at sufficient volume, it can be heard in all parts of the room, but that's just about it.
As suggested by the manual, I tried moving the unit so that it was right against a wall (and thus using it to reflect sound outwards) but it just didn't make much difference. I tried it against a solid wall and a window. No joy.
I tried the EQ on my iPod, by using the "Bass Boost" setting. I was then able to hear something approaching a recognisable bass sound, but this began to distort when the volume was increased.
The Kensington SX2000 may be the answer to those who love the 'iLook' but who have an uncritical ear. But if you care at all about audio quality, steer very clear of this product! I will be relegating it to my shed, where it will be used for background music or maybe podcasts while I am gardening or making things, where I won't be paying attention to what it actually sounds like...
The Kensington website now lists the SX2000 at $49 - no surprises why!
Pros: Nice design, charges your iPod, compact
Cons: Sounds awful, design over function