The Geneva is as accomplished as it is stylish. It might not offer the versatile tech of some rivals, but it beats their sound by a country mile.
If audio quality is your highest priority in a speaker dock — and why wouldn’t it be? — then look no further than the Geneva Model S Wireless DAB+. It’s the closest we’ve come to true hi-fi sound in this Supertest, and we’re astounded by the clarity and depth of detail coming from this rather compact speaker.
And that’s before we even get to its classy finish and radio features.
That’s not to say that other speakers haven’t come close to winning this Supertest. Take the JBL OnBeat Rumble, for example. We would happily bring this along to any party and let it provide its thumping great basslines and boundless energy. We also like its ability to physically dock our Apple device alongside providing Bluetooth streaming from any compatible kit. But a touch of hardness to its sound stops it from taking top prize.
If it’s super-versatility you’re after, then the Libratone Zipp’s offer of AirPlay and DLNA streaming, alongside a USB port that plays while it charges, will please Apple and Android fans alike. We do love the Zipp for its charming looks, easygoing sound and colourful swappable covers, but the Geneva is just that bit more subtle and engaging.
But the great sound quality of the Geneva, JBL and Libratone speakers does mean that the previously five-star B&W Z2 and Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 get knocked down to four stars.
There’s plenty to love about the Z2’s elegant design and smooth, entertaining sound, but it doesn’t deliver the kind of clarity and openness we’ve heard from its newest rivals. And when all other speakers in this test can take streams from Apple and Android devices, the Z2’s AirPlay-only feature is limiting.
The Cambridge Audio dock suffers from restrained sound and an inability to really let go when reaching those top notes, but it’s saved from losing too much face thanks to extensive wired and wireless connectivity. While it’s no longer the only manufacturer to offer both AirPlay and Bluetooth, it remains the only speaker to offer RCA analogue connections.
The Klipsch KMC 3 and Sony SRS-BTX500 find themselves in that awkward position of being good, but not quite good enough.
The Klipsch’s huge, open sound will grab anyone’s attention, but there’s a thickness to it that stops this dock from achieving anything more than three stars. It’s also rather large to be a truly portable speaker.
Stunners and also-rans
The compact and nicely finished Sony, on the other hand, is better equipped for portable streaming. It has a clear and fast sound, but is hobbled by a sharp edge and small- scale presentation. It isn’t enough to beat the more insightful Libratone when you want to listen to music on the go (but in it’s ‘For’ column goes a longer battery life).
That leaves the Panasonic SC-NE3 on its own, bringing up the rear with two stars. It had so much promise with its excellent variety of connections, but the sound performance overall was shockingly poor, and the bulky design stood no chance against its more stylish and compact rivals.
And that brings us back to the reigning five-star speakers from Geneva, JBL and Libratone. To be quite frank, we’d be happy taking any of these three home with us. They all offer something different, and all are entertaining to listen to.
But there can only be one winner, and the Geneva Model S Wireless DAB+ stands head and shoulders above its rivals thanks to its superb sound. It’s as close to hi-fi as any dock here gets.
Geneva Sound Model S Wireless DAB+
• Power 30W • AirPlay No • Bluetooth Yes • Dock No • Aux in Yes • Radio DAB/DAB+/FM • Remote Yes • Dimensions (hwd) • 15 x 24 x 18cm • Weight 3kg
Add these to get the most out of the Geneva Sound Model S Wireless DAB+
Apple MacBook Pro from £1000
Rip all your CDs or stream from Spotify to create the perfect digital library. Then send it to the Geneva via Bluetooth. Or connect via 3.5mm for an even better sound.
HTC One ★★★★★
Our new favourite smartphone is powerful, stylish and a dream to use for streaming songs wirelessly thanks to a wealth of available apps.
Spotify Premium £10 per month
The Geneva speaker is mercifully forgiving of lower-res music, which is great news for streaming the millions of songs available on this excellent music service.