~A music system that works!~
When looking for a good quality sound system at a fair price some time ago, I came across so many nice looking products that failed to deliver on the sound front, that I eventually turned towards a tried and trusted brand that I had experience of due to past purchases. Having bought music systems from Phillips before, I decided to look in to the Phillips Streamium range, as the products in the range seemed to have a number of useful features that would be of benefit to me. With a few CDs in hand I paid a visit to a large electrical retail store and put a number of music centres through their paces before eventuallly deciding to purchase a Philips Streamium MCi300 Wireless Music Station at the best price I could find it.
At the time of purchase the unit was priced towards the higher end of the price range of the many products in store, at around £380 yet was still considerably cheaper than similar yet (at the time) slightly less hi tech Bose products that sold for much much more. Having been offered a choice of in store 'lift muzac' style CDs to use (kept for customers to use when testing music systems in store etc) I found that even this run of the mill kind of music sounded rather good when slipped in to the disc holder and played on the MCi300. Once I was able to try out a selection of my own CDs and set the system to my own liking, I found that it was able to deal with the highs and lows of almost each and every music track/ style I threw at it, making me decide to hunt down the best price for it on line.
~Style and presentation~
The style and presentation of the unit is sleek and modern and even though it has been in use for a number of years it has not really dated in terms of how it sits well with the up to date decor styles that are fashionable right now. The main body of the unit is finished in a slightly brushed silver effect with a super mirror effect panel to the front that exudes style. When the sound system is switched on this slinky mirrored panel has a centre section that lights up and allows you to scroll through settings, track listings and much much more which is a feature that I feel is both attractive and easy to use.
There are touches of silver trim on the main unit and the speakers, which really do make the system look modern/ stylish and yet classic/ timeless at the same time. The speakers are covered in a super sleek black finish, with a hint of glossy black here and there which is combined with a slinky soft semi matt black material that has been used for the main body of the speaker units. The tops of the speakers are super glossy jet black which not only looks great (as it is really reflective and catches the light well), but also is really easy to clean and maintain with a quick wipe over with a soft clean polishing cloth from time to time.
The speaker fronts have a metal silver toned grill effect at the top as well as a matching silver trim that runs around the main speaker area. Over time the look and finish of the speaker units has not changed at all which I am very pleased about, as there has been no fading of the colours, no deterioration of the materials used and surprisingly no scratching to the super glossy top sections of the main unit, or to the equally glossy front sections of the speaker units, even though they have been regularly cleaned when needed. The same can be said for the body of the main unit as this too still looks showroom ready with no scratching, scuffing or fading to be seen. This means that when this music system is switched off it still looks smart and neat and once switched on it retains the funky fresh look that it had when new out of the box.
~Super quick set up~
As far as the set up for the system was concerned, as I recall it really was simple to take straight from the box and get some sounds blasting out from it, with the more detailed set up of the wifi and storage aspect coming after a read through the product manual. The two speaker units came with the connections that enabled me to fit their wires in to the command unit within a few seconds. The main unit was near enough ready to use and only had to have the power chord and iPod dock fitted in place. The iPod dock came with a set of semi sticky pads that allowed the dock to be sited on top of the main unit if wanted, which is where is still sits safely and rather happily.
The whole unit can be set down on to any flat surfaced piece of furniture with minimal fuss, with the feet of the unit having enough clearance to make sure that there is no danger of the system becoming over heated/ or damaging the surface underneath. I decided not to set the speakers on to wall supports or speaker brackets as there was space for them to be sited far enough away from the control unit so as to give a good degree of balance when in use. Whilst the system was easy and quick to set up in the first instance I did find that a read through the product manual was needed as there are a number of features built in that do need some time and thought as this model can store your music without having to use a CD as it has a built in hard drive.
~The iPod dock~
The iPod docking unit is well made and offers a safe support for your iPod. The dock comes as a small flat, nicely weighted block, which has the same sleek black and silver trims and finishes that match well with the look of main system. There is a lead that attaches to the control unit that offers a secure connection, which I found was quick and easy to fit in place. The docking unit can be sited next to the main system or on top of it, which is where I have placed the dock and so far after a few years use the functionality of the item remains as it was when new.
The thing I like about the iPod dock is that it can be updated with the use of a variety of plastic cradle type dock fittings that come with the unit, so that it can take a range of mp3/ iPod products rather than being suited for use with just one model. The iPod dock can even be used with the latest iPhone models as the connection is compatible, as long as you remove the plastic cradle fittings before placing your iPhone in situ. The iPod or iPhone once set in place works well, with a safe and secure base. The dock is able to charge your iPod or iPhone when the main unit it switched on meaning that even when you are using the dock and listening to music through it, the system charges up your iPod or iPhone at the same time.
~System features/ speakers/ style settings~
The system is classed by the makers as being a micro system although in my opinion it isn't a super tiny set up by any means. The system is neat and compact enough to sit in a home setting without taking up too much space though with the dimensions of the main unit being roughly 18.5 cm x 24.8 cm x 21 cm and having an approximate weight of 3.5 kg. The speakers that come with the system are 16 cm x 26.3 cm x 20.8 cm in size making them a little smaller than the main unit and quite a lot lighter. The total out put for the speakers is a crunchy 80 watts and I can tell you that the sounds that you get are both clear and clean with no fuzz or buzz even when set to the point of burning your ears off with a hefty amount of base.
The speakers output in stereo with the added bonus of having DBB, which is a dynamic base boost system that adds an extra punch for your rockier, thrashier, metal head moments should you have them. Having used the system with all types and kinds of music styles from light fluffy music (think Air ~ those french lads that are famous for being 'Sexy Boy's and who even whistle in one or two of their songs!) to more ear bashingly good yet potentially window breaking artists, when the sounds are cranked up nice and loud (think Pantera, System of a Down, Korn) over to hard rock (think Alter Bridge, Buck Cherry) industrial rock (think Marylin Manson, Rob Zombie) and then back down to the super slinky soft and velvety vocals (think Norah Jones etc). I have found that no matter what you throw at this system, in the main it copes really very well, with it having survived in 100% working order after a number of years use and having been rocked and rolled to within an inch of its life!
This system can rock to the sounds of Aerosmith and Steven Tylers unearthly range in Dream On, make you laugh along to Steel Panthers shock rock spandex style Van Halen tribute tracks from their Feel The Steel album, sway to Carlos Santana's dreamy and seductive Samba Pa Ti or chillax and fall in love all over again to Al Green's swooningly gorgeous Lets Stay Together. No matter what your mood there is a setting on this system that can pump out your sounds the way you want them, with factory pre sets such as rock, pop, techno, jazz and classic as well as having the option to set the base and treble as you want it. The addition of a built in super easy to set 'Incredible Surround' feature on this system, means that even when you are unable to set your speakers far enough apart in a standard room setting the speakers can still work their magic. Just switch on the Incredible Surround option, then listen to how well the system is able to fill your room with amazing sounds that still have a good balance between base and treble.
~My music follows me~
You can use this unit along side other Streamium products in your home which will allow you to make the most of the 'My Music Follows Me' feature that means you can go from room to room in the home and literally have the same music tracks come on as and when you want them, with the system working on a wifi basis. Of course you will need to purchase additional Streamium units (which can be smaller and less space hungry than this one) then use these to compliment your main system to get the full benefits from this feature, which once set up really can fill your whole house with music. On the other hand if you want to use this as a stand alone product I feel it works just as well as it really is beefy enough to stand on its own as a well rounded home music system.
~Other system features~
The system also benefits from having a built in clock with its own timer setting, a nice looking and easy to use and understand LCD display and a simple push style standby option which also works with the remote control unit. There is a built in headphone connection as well as a USB connection which is sited at the front of the unit making for ease of use. There is an FM digital radio tuner which has 60 presets and the system comes with an almost see through effect aerial wire that can be placed behind the system to allow for better reception when listening to the radio. There is also an ethernet connection and audio line in x 1. The system works via the selection buttons on the front face of the unit as well as with the hand held remote control unit and both are simple to use. When using the system it is easy to scroll through the options shown on the lcd screen which allow you to pick options and settings as needed. The CD player in this system slides out from the front of the unit and can be used with standard discs that can be CD-R/CD-RW compatible and the supported digital audio standards on this system include WMA, AAC and MP3.
~Product rating and Summary~
Over all having owned and used this versatile music system over the course of a few years, I have found that it still performs well when compared to more recent systems, with some really useful features such as the ability to connect via the iPod dock to new products such as the latest iPhone. The way the product looks is both sleek and modern with durable finishes that do last well over time. The remote control unit is a nice addition as it allows you to control the unit from your arm chair if wanted. The CD player works well and the variable sound settings built in to the system are a nice touch that do help you get the best sounds for different music tracks and artists. The balance of sounds produced including the depth of base/ treble can be easily adjusted to suit your needs and the system works as well with stored music tracks as it does with a CD or when listening to a radio channel.
The only slight downside I have found is that when switching the system on it does take a few seconds to boot up and be ready for use, which is also the case when inserting a CD and then waiting for the list of tracks to appear. I feel this is to be expected as this system does have a number of features to it that need to kick in and the fact that it takes a few seconds more to be ready to use is not really an issue that causes any problems - after all if you want to make a cup of tea you do have to boil the water first, so I see the short time span it takes to ready the system for use as being part and parcel of it. As the music system still works as well as it did when new I cannot see any reason to give it a rating of anything less than 5 stars as it has worked well and continues to do so, making it a very good buy.