In 1972, four German hi-fi enthusiasts formed their own loudspeaker company and named it Canton, a combination of the Latin word cantare (to sing) and the German word ton (musical tone). Now, with more than 35 years of experience building speakers, some of which cost as much as $30,000/pair (in the case of the Reference 1 DCs), it should come as no surprise that even the company’s iPod dock can really sing.
Canton’s DSS 303 Digital Soundstation features an integrated charging iPod dock and two coaxial drivers (each consisting of a 4-inch aluminum woofer with a coaxially mounted 1-inch fabric dome tweeter) driven by a 50wpc amplifier. Additionally, it has an FM radio, a clock, a USB port, and an auxiliary input. Not only is the DSS 303 versatile, but its rather compact enclosure (roughly the size of a toaster) and understated, elegant industrial design make it perfect for places where space is scarce, such as small apartments, bedrooms, or offices.
Consider this iPod Speaker System if: you are looking for a space-saving audio solution whose sonic performance stands on its own merits. With room-filling, neutral sound and surprisingly deep bass, the DSS 303 is ideal for someone looking for a diminutive audio system that can do more than merely provide background-grade sound for dining, reading, or entertaining.
Look elsewhere if: you demand exceptional stereo imaging and clarity. While the DSS 303 performs better than the average iPod dock, it can’t provide the wider soundstages you’d hear with high-quality desktop or bookshelf speakers. It would make sense to check out other options if an iPod is not your primary source or you don’t demand a single-box system.
Ratings (relative to other single-enclosure iPod speaker systems)
The first time I fired up the DSS 303, I was surprised that such a small package could produce such a big sound. More importantly, it has a neutral tonal balance and is absent of quirks or colorations that could potentially be grating over time. Simply put, it is a very pleasant listen, suitable for a wide range of music, from acoustic jazz to hip-hop. Clarity and definition are good by iPod system standards, though the Canton rig is of course not as nuanced or revealing as a standalone hi-fi system would be.
One shortcoming (and one commonly encountered in single-box iPod systems) is that sound clings to the DSS 303 enclosure to some degree, meaning you never get the enveloping, three-dimensional soundstages you might hear from systems with separate speakers that can be placed some distance from each other. The Canton does what it can with a compact enclosure, but at the end of the day its left and right speakers are positioned only a few inches apart.