The DS9000 features a laminated plywood that offers far more than just an attractive piece of small furniture for your home or office. Both the wood layers and the lacquer help dampen internal vibrations far better than the usual piece of plastic. Though, in truth, contemporary plastics are far better than older generations at that task.
Standing waves are for all practical purposes gone, as are internal reflections. That is, you could measure them with a very sensitive electronic instrument, but even an audiophile’s ear isn’t that sensitive.
The main difference between the DS9000 and the DS9010 is on the finishing. The DS9010 offers an anodized brushed aluminum back. It’s definitely stylish, but it does change the sonic characteristics somewhat. How many listeners will notice is an open question. Relatively few buyers have such a well-tuned ear and every listening room offers differences that can overwhelm such subtle variations. But, for those who insist on getting every particle of advantage, the DS9000 might be preferred.
The newer DS9 restores that wooden back but in a slightly smaller format. Its case measures 20.08″ (W) x 6.97″ (H) x 8.07″ (D) compared to the DS9000′s slightly larger 22.13″ x 8.43″ x 8.50″. The DS9010 is slightly larger still at 22.17″ x 8.43″ x 8.86″.
Similarly, the weight differs from one to the other. The DS9 tips the scales at a chunky bit still very portable 12.1 lbs compared to the DS9000′s heftier 14.3 lbs. The DS9010 is heavier yet at 15.8 lbs. None is particularly beefy but all are stable enough to stay put.
All feature a rubber oval foot that helps increase stability still further, while also damping case vibrations that would bleed into the table (and, worse, back into the unit).
Whether any of those differences, functional or aesthetic, is enough to drive a purchase of one over the other is, of course, a personal choice. Some will prefer a little more portability, others a more solid case.
Internal Components – Similarities and Differences
A bigger difference between the models is the amplifier. The DS9000 (and DS9010) pump out 2 x 50W, an amount of power that puts these iPad speaker docks in the range of a full-blown receiver. By comparison, the DS9 generates 2 x 25W only.
‘Only’ is a somewhat misleading word here, though. Fifty watts is plenty to fill a good-sized living room with heart-thumping audio, even from smallish drivers. Whether your preference is rock or classical (or both), you won’t be disappointed in the volume level.
Fortunately, all three models do an excellent job of delivering that volume with truly minimal distortion. A signal-to-noise ratio of 85 dB is one reason, but there are others.
Chief among those other reasons is the use of independent, high-quality drivers inside each unit. All three house twin 4-inch dome midrange/bass drivers and a pair of 1-inch ring radiator tweeters.
The placement in each case is also well done. The bass ports in the rear line up with the bass drivers, providing maximum efficiency. The large, central horn provides good separation to produce about as fine a soundstage as you can get in a small enclosure.
There are physical limitations, after all, that can only be compensated for so far by clever electronic techniques. You can only do so much with 7 liters of internal volume and a few inches of space between the left and right channels.
Helping out the audio quality is something Philips calls PureDigital technology. From other companies that would be just a buzzword. In this case there’s actually something to it. By designing the units to take a direct digital signal from the iPad (or iPod or iPhone), there’s no need for analog-to-digital conversion. That minimizes any losses or distortion that is, sadly, all too common in speaker dock designs.
What all that comes down to is, in each case, superb audio. The DS9000 (or DS9010) may have a slight edge overall but the DS9 is far from a poor relation. Each model delivers full, authentic bass and crisp mid-range tones along with clear highs. As competitors to the legendary B & W Zeppelin each is a worthy (and far less expensive) alternative.
Functionality – Essentially Similar
All three models sport the same functional aspects, all a bit less than ideal. Each unit offers only a standard 3.5mm AUX jack to plug in a third party MP3 player or CD player. No way to use this unit to connect up your iPad and play the sound output on your high-def TV. Oh, well.
Worse still, there’s no Bluetooth (much less Airplay) support. If you really feel the need to rotate your iPad to landscape (for games, movies, or whatever) – or just to use it off the dock while still enjoying great sound – you’ll have to seek another solution. These docks were clearly designed with just music playing in mind.
The remote is the same for each model as well. It has limited but adequate buttons, but also sports a d-pad in the center. One of those buttons does activate a menu, however, so you can do essentially anything you like by navigating through it.
If you prefer, you can also operate the unit’s functions with the free Fidelio application. The system prompts you automatically to download it the first time you connect your iDevice. You can change tracks, volume level, and more. You can also connect to over 7,000 Internet radio stations to get plenty of source material to stream.
Any of the Philips Fidelio Primo models – the DS9000, the DS9010, or the DS9 – will satisfy the most demanding listener in the market for an iPad speaker dock. Much of the choice comes down to differences of personal taste over appearance (which is actually slight), along with price. Still, there are a few features that could push you to one or the other. The lack of Bluetooth and landscape mode support can be a deal breaker. If you’re looking for an iPad speaker dock that supports both take a look at either the DS7700 or DS8550.