At this point, we all know that Sony long resisted Apple’s iPhone and iPod but eventually came around once they realized they might be leaving money on the table. Philips didn’t make this mistake and you can see why with our Philips Fidelio 8850 speaker dock review. However, until recently Sony didn’t have a dock that accommodated Apple’s iPad. That is until this past September when they announced the RDP-X500IP. It’s a rather unassuming speaker dock, somewhat like the JBL Charge Bluetooth speaker. But once you plug it in, you’ll be surprised as I was to learn that it delivers exceptionally big bass and altogether premium sound. If the idea of premium sound got you excited. Also, check out our review of the best speakers.
The RDP-X500IP is wrapped in a velvet cloth covering, which is complemented by a silver accent that runs along the top that houses a power button, volume rocker, and input switch for selecting non-iOS devices. It’s simple, clean, and easy to use. The dock is hidden in a spring-loaded drawer that ejects from the base of the unit with just a slight push. There are no adapters required as the RDP-X500IP can hold any of Apple’s iOS devices, though as a result, you won’t be able to blindly insert your iPad or iPhone.
From a profile perspective, the RDP-X500IP has a cone-like shape, though the back is rounded to provide greater stability and accommodate the array of speakers. Hidden behind the almost all-black exterior are a set of magnetic fluid speakers that according to Sony “deliver higher sound pressure with less distortion than traditional speakers.” There is also a standalone subwoofer that fires out some serious bass – more on that in a bit. All of this is powered by an S-MASTER digital amplifier that seems to have no problem keeping pace.
Related: See also our Sony RDP XA 700IP Airplay Speaker Dock review.
In the past, Sony has tended to stuff its products full of useless features. However, the RDP-X500IP iPad Speaker Dock is anything but. They clearly took the minimalist approach of “less is more” and in this case, it totally works. But that isn’t to say it’s without a few frills. They’ve included a credit card-sized remote for changing the volume and playing and pausing your music. You can also download an app called “D-Suppli” which includes a 5-band EQ with a handful of presets (rock, jazz, R&B, etc) as well as two custom EQ settings if you have a penchant for that kind of tweaking. Based on my experience with the iOS EQ I chose “rock” which seemed to suffice though it caused the bass to be a bit heavy for my palette. I would have liked to see AirPlay or at least Bluetooth connectivity in terms of wireless support, but then again that wouldn’t leave room for another product with a slightly higher price tag, would it?
Sonically, the RDP-X500IP is stellar and performs at least on par with similarly priced docks. High and mids are solid throughout and bass is thunderous to the point that initially had me question where all the lows were coming from. I found that playing with the EQ assisted select types of music and whatever I choose seemed to remain intact no matter what application (Pandora, the iPod, etc) I launched. In terms of amplitude, the RDP-X500IP suffices for most bedroom setups, but don’t expect it to power your holiday party. Though it should note that the Sony RDP-X500IP never tried to overreach and produced a volume greater than it could handle; by that, I mean no distortion.
Related: Also check out our Sony HT X8500 review.
The Sony RDP-X500IP iPad Speaker Dock may not be chock-full of features, but it delivers superior audio quality with a bass kick that I have yet to see rivaled by other similarly sized docks. It’s small enough to fit bedside and yet can still accommodate an iPad. However, keep in mind that it lacks any sort of wireless support and could use a bit more juice in the amplitude department.
Bottom Line: The Sony RDP-X500IP is an all-around excellent sounding dock that takes a minimalist approach and delivers well within its class. However, wireless connectivity is not present, so look elsewhere if you demand that convenience.
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