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Philips Fidelio DS8550

Philips Fidelio DS8550 wireless iPad speaker

The new dock star gets the AirPlay treatment

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Review Reg Hardware pronounced Philips' Fidelio DS9000 to be pick of the current crop of premium iPod docks, beating even the much-loved and well-reviewed B&W Zeppelin. Clearly, Philips is onto something here, because its Fidelio DS8550 is pretty bloody good too.

Now, I didn't review the DS9000 - m'colleague Alun Taylor had that privilege - but on the basis of the DS8550's output, the higher model number must be truly impressive indeed.

Philips Fidelio DS8550

Philips' Fidelio DS8550: snazzy looking from the front

The DS8550 certainly presents a cracking sound, driven by a pair of 3in full-range speakers pumping out 30W between them. The bass output is given a boost with a reflex port to shoot it out the back and let it bounce back to the listener off a handy wall.

That said, the sound's not half bad if you move the DS8550 away from the sides of the room.

It struggles just a bit when you crank the volume right up, but with such a clear, warm and lively sound further down the dial, you probably won't want to push it that far anyway. The DS8550 is a good box for the bedroom or a small living room.

The secret, incidentally, is to treat the iDevice simply as a controller and music store. The Fidelio takes the digital data and runs it through its own digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) rather than rely on the one in the player. It does make a difference.

Philips Fidelio DS8550

Reflex ports for boosted bass

A solid performer, then, but the DS8550's stand-out selling point is its ability to dock an iPad, though it's equally at home with an iPhone, an iPod - or, indeed, anything with a 3.5mm audio output, for which Philips provides a suitable cable to connect the player to the rear of the DS8550.

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