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Tech Review: Bush CSPK51i – 100W iPod / iPhone Dock

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This is an iPod / iPhone dock made under the Bush brand name for distribution in UK high street stores, but It’s entirely likely that the same model is marketed elsewhere under a different brand and model number.

For the £50 I paid (at Argos) I really wasn’t expecting a lot in the way of sound quality, but it’s not my primary dock (that would be a Sony SRS GUI10IP), and I need a backup for outdoors use at parties, BBQs, etc. I didn’t want to ruin an expensive one through that kind of wear and tear.

The sound quality is unexpectedly good. A nice, punchy sound across the full frequency range, with colourful treble, warm bass, and a nice, spacey midrange. I’ve listened to a wide range of recordings (in Apple Lossless files) from acoustic guitars and brass instruments to rock and electronic music, and in all honestly, there’s nothing missing from the sound. Of course it’s not the same as the thick vinyl sound or an SACD played through an audiophile amp, but this is a budget iPod dock, not top-end gear. The output is stated as 100W, but this can’t be compared to a 100W amp with a dedicated sub-woofer. It is more than powerful enough to fill a large room or small garden, which was its intended use.

Importantly, it charges iPhone and iPod Touch models. There are too many models still on the market which aren’t compatible with these increasingly popular devices, and whilst they play the music, they’ll be draining the battery at the same time. Thankfully, no such problem exists here.

You have to come to terms with psychoacoustics when considering this dock. Bose Sounddocks do sound fabulous, but not six times as fabulous. They look fab, and they cost a fortune, but it’s very difficult to justify spending six times as much money on something that doesn’t have six times the performance. The Bush model is cheap and looks cheap. But shut your eyes, and the quality is undoubtedly there.

There are, naturally, some drawbacks. Firstly, there’s a noticeable lack of build quality as soon as you remove it from its packaging. The plastic casing doesn’t provide a great deal of assurance that it would survive being dropped too many times. Secondly, there are no features. You plug in, and it plays (automatically, as it happens). There’s no preset EQs and no bass and treble controls. I can live with this, as I’m happy with the pre-shaped sound.

Pros: Great sound quality, excellent value for money, compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch.

Cons: Dubious rigidity, no EQ controls.

In summary, this is going to do an excellent job as a backup dock for the odd occasion the weather allows a garden party, and also for holidays.

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About Richey1977

  • chris

    what are its dimensions?

  • Richey1977

    It’s pretty big. It’s being borrowed for the weekend, so I can’t measure it.

  • Alex

    I was pleased with the sound and the look of the unit on my bedside table, i have owned the unit for just over 5months and now suddnley have no power to it, tryed the fuse but still nothing… very dissapointed

  • simon

    could it be attached to a pc as a speaker.? and still be used to charge the iphone??