The extender unit is simplicity itself, as it provides composite video, S-Video, component video, and stereo analog audio outputs for connection to your audio or home theater system. Additional jacks are provided for the extender’s AC adapter, an external control terminal (for example, for use with a whole-home remote control system), and for remote control signal feeds to associated Marantz A/V components. Naturally, there are two CAT5-type jacks which allow wired connections to the IS301 base unit.
The IS301 comes with a credit-card-sized remote control that serves two functions. First, the remote duplicates most of the control functions provided by the iPod itself, including power on/off, menu, select, play/pause, skip forward/backward, repeat, shuffle, and arrow up/down control. But second, the remote provides functions geared toward controlling associated Marantz A/V components, including amplifier power on/off, volume up/down, and input select buttons. The remote is particularly in settings where users have chosen to use hardwired connections between the base unit and the extender (say to support a video iPod), yet still want an easy way to control the system from across the room.
For both audio and video playback I found Marantz’s IS301 dock virtually indistinguishable from using hardwired analog audio/video connections between the iPod and the main system. In practice, this means the dock offers sufficient resolution to show sonic difference between various types of audio compression you might choose to use (lossless schemes sound better than lossy ones). Interestingly, on music I could hear little if any difference between hardwired and Bluetooth audio connections between iPod and the main system, meaning there is essentially no performance penalty for using Bluetooth, if you wish to do so.
One minor quibble I should mention, though, is that Bluetooth connections between the IS301 handset are not as robust as some I’ve tried (for example, the almost bulletproof Bluetooth connections served up by the Etymotic Research wireless Ety8 Bluetooth in-ear headphones). As a result, you may experience—as I did—occasional losses of signal, especially if you break line-of-sight connections between the IS301 handset and the antenna on the extender module. Happily, it’s easy to re-establish connections with the push of a “pairing” button on the handset (or on the extender module). Still, I’d be even happier if wireless connections were never broken in the first place.
Video presentations from the iPod through the dock offers about the same resolution as a direct, hard-wired connection would. The dock does not offer the near state-of-the-art presentation you might see from certain high-end docking systems that use extensive video processing functions to restore video resolution the iPod itself is missing, but the presentation is otherwise about as good as the iPod’s video imaging ever gets.
One point I’d like to make absolutely clear is the IS301 does not extract digital audio from the iPod as a dock such as the Wadia Model 170 iTransport does. The IS301 provides analog audio and video connections only.
Marantz’s IS301 wireless iPod dock gives you a simple and effective means of connecting almost any version of iPod to your audio or home theater system. Through the IS301, you can listen to music or, where your iPod supports these functions, watch videos or display still photos with the greatest of ease. The IS301 is at its very best for music playback, where the IS301’s innovative and portable Bluetooth handset lets you control playback directly from the iPod’s own user interface—an option not all competing docks allow.
SPECS & PRICING
Marantz IS301 Wireless Dock for iPod