Creative have another hit on their hands with the ZiiSound D5 – a speaker “bar” that works via Bluetooth and contains an iPhone dock to boot.
And, once again, Creative have gone to town with the high quality packaging of their product. A well made, embossed, external box is opened up to reveal everything nicely packaged inside in smaller boxes. Little details, even down to an embossed card with the product details on, make you think you’ve bought a quality product.
Taking the ZiiSound out, I was immediately surprised at it’s size – just a smidgen over 42cm in length, it’s a lot more compact than other premium iPhone docs (the B&W Zeppelin, for instance, is 64cm in length). And, although, somewhat bland in its black, angled, rectangular form, it has enough aesthetic touches to make up for it. For example, the ends of the ZiiSound are finished in a dark-gun metal material and the volume is shown via a series of white LEDs. To adjust the volume you simply move you fingers across the touch sensitive panel on the top – it responds and looks superb.
In fact, the ZiiSound has been awarded the prestigious red dot award for product design.
To get it up and working you only need to plug in a power cable (complete with in-line transformer) and press a small power button on the back. Other than the power there are no other buttons – just touch sensitive panels. Other than the aforementioned volume control there is also a touch-sensitive Bluetooth connection panel on the front.
Next to the power connection and button on the rear is an auxiliary in (with a cable supplied!), allowing you to bypass Bluetooth entirely and connect directly to a device via its headphone socket, or similar output.
Along with the ZiiSound itself you also receive a Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the bottom of your iPod or iPhone. However, if you’re like me and don’t own one, then you’re certainly not left out. Any Bluetooth device, such as a phone or laptop, can transmit to the ZiiSound – I used my HTC Hero and it connected without any issues. The range is about 10 meters.
Available separately, there is also a Wireless USB Bluetooth audio transmitter from Creative. At the moment, if you purchase the ZiiSound from the Creative store you get it for free (worth £39.99).
Docking of an iPod or iPhone can be performed easily via a docking slot on the rear of the device (which is RF shielded so you don’t have to worry about the speakers interfering with iPhone reception, for instance).
In the product box you will find a support stand and number of different backrest adapters – you simply find the one suitable for your device and insert it into the ZiiSound. Your device will then be adequately supported whilst docked.
Other than volume, there are no sound adjustments you can make, so a lot of the quality is down to whatever device is feeding the ZiiSound. I tested it first with my HTC hero – the apt-X audio codec that they use provides excellent Bluetooth stereo audio. My Hero though, nice as it is, isn’t a good example to use, so I switched to the wired aux. connection to my Hi-fi.
And, you know, the sound is extremely good. Certainly a lot better than you’d expect from something if its diminutive size. Clear, with good range, every part of the design, from the bass port (or “flowport”) and chassis to the speakers, has been designed to give a sound as rich as possible. And all of this comes from just two 15 Watt (RMS) speakers.
I pushed the volume up high and it had no problems with the results – they would certainly work brilliantly at a party.
[review]As I said at the beginning of the review, Creative have another hit on their hands. Already I can’t get enough of the Aurvana earphones (still using them regularly!) and the ZiiSound will be no different. With my HTC Hero connected to my ZyXEL NAS, I can stream my entire music collection through the ZiiSound without moving from the sofa. It looks good and it sounds fantastic.[/review]
But don’t take my word for it…
“The sound quality is very impressive given the size of the ZiiSound D5. Using the transmitter, there is bags of detail and the speakers maintain audio integrity at those higher volumes your want for your party…” – Pocket-lint
“…this is one of the most impressive iPod and iPhone audio systems we’ve seen in the past three years…” – iLounge.com