Originally Posted Nov 10th, 2010

In doing what we do, we have the opportunity to check out a lot of new technology before, or just as, its hitting the mainstream market.  Headphones, audio docks, games, etc.  Most of the time it’s a pretty decent product… occasionally it’s a pretty piece of shit… but every great once in a while we are given true beauty.  Such is the case with the Audyssey South of Market Audio Dock ($400).  Designed solely to work with iPods and iPhones, the SOM dock is everything I could truly ever want out of a massive sound system… but it’s packaged into an unassuming and slim design.  Narrow enough to sit quietly amongst your office riff-raff or kitchen appliances, but way more capable than anything you could ever fit there before.

Let’s talk briefly about the name “South of Market”… while at first I thought it was kind of an awkward title to an extremely impressive sound system, actually made a great deal of sense after I did a little more reading.  Here’s what I found:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/16739725 w=600&h=400]

San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) is one of those quintessential urban neighborhoods, a paradox of artist lofts and graffiti, tech start-ups, good food and good music. That’s what inspired the namesake of our Audio Dock and The Neighborhood, a free monthly event, first Wednesdays at 111 Minna Gallery, featuring the best local bands, DJs, and food carts. And coming soon, The Neighborhood Blog with exclusive artist interviews, videos and more.

Pretty cool if you put it all into context.  All of the naming and design aside… the sounds and options built into the SOM are (to bring back a term from the 90’s) off the hook!  These are brand new to the audiophile market, and as of now only available in Apple stores (but available in many of them across the nation, check HERE).  If you have the opportunity to stop by one and try it out, I highly recommend you do.  Hell, put it note-for-note against all of the other audio docks in the store… I have no doubt that you will walk away a true believer.  It has a deep bass that I’ve only ever heard in much, much larger subwoofers… an internal equalizer that takes something standard and gives it an extra “oomph” I’ve never really noticed on a dock… a level of crispness I’ve heard before, but not on a tabletop system… and, for lack of a better word, richness to the overall sound which made me remember why I loved the music I bought to start with.  Now, do all of those things amount to something worth 400 bones?  Hell no… that’s a lot of money for an iPod/iPhone dock!  But… the SOM isn’t done with you yet!

This little bastard is also a blue-tooth connected device.  That’s right… you get a call/email/text while listening to your music… pick the phone up and you can still play your tunes.  do whatever you need to do, and when you re-dock (if you choose to) it will continue playing with a nearly seamless transition.  Blue-tooth also means the SOM doubles as your bluetooth speakerphone device  for phone calls, Skype and other hands-free options (also great for FaceTime!)… making it a killer addition to the office desk or for Suzie Homemaker in the middle of preparing dinner.  With their “voice-processing algorithms and echo cancellation technology” the clarity makes for a perfect conversation.

This is made solely for the Apple music family so think of the opportunities with the iPhone & iPod Touch… iTunes, Pandora, Wolfgang’s vault, You Tube, Last FM and on and on and on.  Speaking of iPhone/iPod, to take things up even another notch on their level of awesomeness… Audyssey has created a free app to accompany the SOM dock (You can snag it HERE).  I played around with the app last night and I have to say… if you love to “tweak” your music to juuuuuust the right sound, this app is perfect for you.  Here is Audyssey’s description:

Designed specifically for the South of Market Audio Dock and iPhone or iPod touch, the South of Market App gives users the ability to customize their sound. The app features Fast Slope Tone Controls, a new way of adjusting bass and treble using Audyssey Tilt Control, and a selection of Audyssey’s Dynamic Volume presets including background listening mode. And with a full screen graphical editor for creating custom EQ curves, it is the only app of its kind.

Last, but far from least, the Audyssey SOM has another trick up it’s sleeves… it can also act as a computer speaker.  Yup, it has a USB plug on the back (cables included) which can easily connect to any computer.  Boom!  Now you have an insane computer speaker, which also docks your iPhone… and (AND!) will allow a pass-through for iTunes.  Meaning while attached to your dock you can sync your phone with iTunes instead of unplugging from one thing and plugging into another USB and blah blah blah.  Total perfection in completing the nerd cycle of life!

Did I mention that this does charge your iPod/iPhone as well?  Including the iPhone 4.

Negatives?  The only two that I noticed are that the system does have to be powered on in order to charge your device (others I’ve seen don’t have to), and the sound is noticeably better when your iPod/iPhone is docked over working through bluetooth (but it’s sooooo good when docked that the bluetooth sound is probably better than some other systems when connected).

All-in-all I have to honestly say that this may be one of the, if not THE, best audio dock for my iPhone I’ve ever heard.  Pricey?  Yes… but with it having so many awesome features and quite possibly being the last audio dock you’ll ever need or want… $400 isn’t so bad.

UPDATE – For an awesome Holiday deal on the Audyssey SOM Dock (thanks to the peeps at audyssey) check it out HERE.  Not seriously… if you are thinking about picking one up… GO HERE!!! Sorry… EXPIRED.