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Review: Philips DCM292 Sleek micro music system
I find that some gadgets have the ability to instill a distinct sense of ambivalence. Case in point, the Sleek micro music system from Philips. It left me feeling conflicted, my emotions having ebbed and flowed until the very moment I had to stamp the product with a verdict.
The particular unit we were given to review was the DCM292/12. If you look at it from a distance, it’s almost monolithic in appearance. A while ago we reviewed the Logitech Pure-Fi Express Plus and the DCM292 is the antithesis of that. The black center console is flanked by black speaker grills. The detachable stand, also black.
There is method behind the muted colour scheme. Philips sees this music player becoming a permanent fixture in your house, it can be wall mounted. As such, the neutral colour scheme will meld into your home more readily. It’s no surprise then that there are no battery compartments or rechargeable batteries to be found here.
On the front you’ll find a power button, slide out iDevice docking tray and CD compartment eject button. On top there are source selection, back, forward, play/pause stop and volume buttons as well a 3.5mm auxiliary input, headphone jack and USB port for direct MP3/WMA playback.
If you’ve been dreading digitising your CD collection, you’ll love the DCM292’s CD player. To me, it feels out of place in 2012 and at first glance made the DCM292 appear anachronistic. Actually, it is. The DCM292 first came to market in 2010 and it’s worth mentioning that unless you can pick one up for a bargain — it retailed for around US$240 initially — you’re better off looking at Philips’ current range.
Age aside, the DCM292’s feature set is fairly comprehensive. There’s an AM/FM tuner, RDS support, alarm clock, equalizer pre-sets (DSC) and a DBB option for bass lovers onboard. Check out the full spec sheet.
My biggest gripe with the DCM292 is related to its docking tray. You have to push too hard to make it slide out or close, which means you end up pushing the entire unit back at times — wall-mounting is clearly encouraged. Docking my phone was also fidgety, there were no grooves to guide it in. Once docked, my iPhone’s home button was obscured by the tray making it hard to press. Touching the phone’s display was awkward as the loose dock fit made my phone knock against the CD player compartment.
I suppose the remote should negate having to touch your phone, but it doesn’t. iPod navigation is very limited. I could get to my albums and audiobooks but what about playlists and podcasts? I also couldn’t change shuffle and repeat settings — luckily, beyond iPod control, the remote performs well, covering most functionality of the other music sources.
Once your device is docked, it’s also impossible to insert or remove CDs. You have to undock your phone and slide back the docking tray.
Finally, I heard electromagnetic interference from my iPhone buzzing through the speakers at least twice. I couldn’t consistently recreate it though.
On a positive note, the dock charges your docked devices.
It’s hard to fault the DCM292 here. It has fantastic sound, well up to about 94% of its maximum 20W RMS output capacity, at which point earth shattering distortion makes things rather unpleasant.
I felt like the Dynamic Bass Boost option contributed positively to the sound of my favourite songs, so I left it on all the time. Once again, it’s clear great care was given to the out-of-the-box sound, so I didn’t really need to tamper with the built-in equalizer settings, but you can choose between Jazz, Rock, Pop and Classic.
Note that it doesn’t have omnidirectional sound, so placement of the device in your home remains important, if you’re acoustically minded.
Hopefully by now you can see why I’m ambivalent. Philips’s Sleek micro music system DCM292/12 delivers immaculate sound, but it has some really annoying drawbacks, mostly related to the iPhone/iPod dock. My predicament is further exacerbated by the age of this system. It’s two years old and there are better looking, better performing speaker docks with equal or better functionality from Philips available currently. Unless you can pick this thing up for a bargain — well below its original retail price of US$240 — be sure to shop around.
Then again, if you love your CDs, have no intention of digitising them, or investing in something with a CD changer, this might be for you, again the sound is rather brilliant for a device this size.
Who it’s for
Audiophiles with CD collections, looking for something compact, wall-mountable with fantastic sound. The iGeneration would do well to shop around for something newer with an iPhone/iPod bias.
Gear it or Burn it?