The Cignias NAO Symphony looks like any other iPod dock. But it’s not like any other iPod dock. Because it streams music wirelessly and plays nice with BlackBerrys too.
The theoretical flexibility of the NAO Symphony is impressive: You can pipe in music via the iPod dock, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or the standard auxiliary port, and control it with apps for the iPhone or BlackBerry, along with the crap IR remote that ships with it.
The problem is that in practice, it’s frustratingly splintered.
On the iPhone, you can only stream music over Bluetooth, but you actually control it via Wi-Fi using the MusicNAO app. So you have to bounce between the iPhone’s iPod app and the MusicNAO app – iPod is where you actually pick tracks and do the real controlling if you’re streaming music, but the MusicNAO is where you perform all of the settings voodoo, and, um, control the volume. (No, you can’t control volume in the iPod app when it’s connected.)
The situation’s actually better on BlackBerrys, for the simple reasons that you can actually stream music over Wi-Fi and the settings and music management are mostly centralised in a single app. (There’s still a separate app if you’re trying to remotely control an iPod plugged into the Symphony’s dock, for reasons I can’t understand.)
Bluetooth connections seemed to be more reliable in actually getting music to stream, but in any scenario, I definitely had songs that would cut out intermittently, despite being a mere three metres away and in line of sight. And not having music coming out every time it’s supposed to is beyond annoying.
Oh yeah, how does it sound? Um, fine – not great, not bad – like a typical (not premium) iPod dock tends to sound. The sweet spot seemed to be in the middle loud range, where the slight overcompensation in bass levelled out, and slight crackling in the highs is smoothed out thanks to overall volume. We’re not talking about over detailed or refined audio here, but when you’re just looking to fill a room with sufficiently big sound and not too much distortion, it gets the job done, mostly pleasantly.
But $US300 is a lot of clams, even for an iPod dock that works with your work phone.