Provides: iDevice docking/playback, CD, FM playback
Minimum Requirements: Dockable iPod/iPhone, audio source with audio out
It’s too easy, I think, to begin this review by commenting on the shape of TEAC’s SR-100i. You may look at it and see a football. Or maybe a knockoff of the B&W Zeppelin. I see the “head” of the spaceships from War of the Worlds, but I’m like that. What matters, instead, is sound, and the SR-100i certainly delivers that…even if it doesn’t deliver death rays.
I’ll expand upon the sound in a bit, but I first want to focus on features. It’s not uncommon for speaker docks to feature an FM radio and—more commonly—auxiliary input. As great as iPods and the iPhone are, they’re rarely our only source of music. What’s not common anymore is for the system to include a CD player, which the SR-100i does. Located just over the top ridge of the device, the slot loading CD player supports CD, CD-R/RW MP3 and WMA discs, so you’re pretty much covered if you’ve got your music on the previous decade’s technology. I greatly enjoy this feature, as I have plenty of CDs I’ll likely never bother to rip (remember that term? Good times!), but that I do like to listen to from time to time.
CD controls are in line with the CD slot, which means you won’t be able to see them unless you’re standing over the system. You’ve also got the remote, of course, which you’re going to need for FM radio access and iPod control, as there are no other buttons on the systems itself. Your RCA inputs, FM antenna, and USB ports are at the bottom back (the SR100i can play music stored on a USB drive), as is the AC adapter. There is no battery option here, of course; the device is too large and too powerful for that.
In fact, let’s go off on a size tangent. The SR-100i weighs 12 pounds, and is 22.4″ wide by 9″ high by 8.7″ deep. In other words, it’s big. If you intend to place this on a bookshelf, plan on putting little else on that shelf. The four large rubber feet at the base do a good job of cushioning the device and holding it in place, as well as minimizing vibration, I’d guess.
The funny thing abou the size is that it’ll dwarf your iPhone or iPod, which sits at the bottom center on a retractable dock. Push in the TEAC logo in the center of the chrome trim and the dock will slowly slide out. The dock itself sits low in the extension, so you may not be able to use it without removing your iDevice from its case. However, it does pivot a bit so you should be fine if your case doesn’t increase the bulk on the bottom of the device.
The SR-100i’s remote control gives you full functionality, but not in a way that always makes sense. iPod control is cumbersome; it does the job once you get used to it, but it’s much easier to handle song selection on the iPod itself while it’s sitting in the dock, relegating the remote to on/off, EQ, basic tuning and audio source selection duties. The LED readout will show you track numbers, radio stations and what audio source is active, but isn’t much help beyond that. Oddly, although it has a clock that can be used as an alarm, the display shuts off when the SR-100i drops into standby mode. So, yeah, you’ve got a clock, but it’s a clock you won’t be able to see unless you’re playing music.
Thankfully, the sound makes up for these shortcomings. Powered by two 50W speakers with a bass-reflex port (1-1/4″ tweeter, 3-1/2″ woofer), the SR-100i offers a deep, full sound that’ll likely be more than you need for the room in which it’s placed. This isn’t built to be a system that’s moved throughout the house, but should instead become your permanent audio source. As such, it’s powerful enough to keep you happy for quite some time.
That, then, should be the determining factor in whether you consider the TEAC SR-100i. If you’re looking for a speaker system that also serves as an alarm clock or offers additional iDevice functionality, look elsewhere. But if you want a bookshelf system that is there mainly to make your audio sound great—no matter what the source—then letting the SR-100i invade your home is not a bad idea at all.
Whether it can be killed by the common cold, I guess we’ll just have to find out.
Buy the TEAC SR-100i