Onkyo has built up a strong reputation for making good-quality mini hi-fi systems that don't cost the earth. The CS-325UK, priced at around £180, aims to continue this trend, but also adds in an iPod dock to sweeten the deal (non-UK versions of the system don't include the dock as standard).
The CS-325UK is essentially a traditional all-in-one system with a CD player and radio receiver, plus an external iPod dock that plugs into the rear of the system. The unit's design isn't what you'd call attention-grabbing, but the all-black styling is neutral and helps it blend into the background when sitting on a shelf or side table. The speakers included with the system have non-removable cloth grilles on the front, and the cabinets are designed so that they sit back at a slight angle, to project the sound up and out at the listener.
Setting up the system is very straightforward. Once you've connected up the speaker cables and those for the dock, it's simply a matter of setting the clock and tuning in the radio stations. As well as FM and AM modes, the CS-325UK's radio also includes a digital tuner so you can listen to DAB stations like the BBC's Radio 6 Music and 1Xtra.
When you put an iPod or iPhone into the dock, the system lets you control playback via the main remote control. You can skip forwards and backwards through tracks in a playlist, pause and rewind playback and audio skip through tunes. It's all very straightforward, helped by the fact that the remote is uncluttered and logically laid out.
When it comes to audio quality, the system puts in a good performance. The high-frequency sounds sing out as they should, the bass is tight and punchy, and the strong mid-range response gives the sound plenty of body.
When we plugged an original iPhone into the dock for testing purposes, a message flashed up on the phone's screen informing us that the dock hadn't been made for use with the iPhone. In the manual, Onkyo only states that the dock is suitable for use with fifth-generation iPods and earlier models (apart from third-generation models, which aren't supported at all). Despite this, once we cleared the warning message on the iPhone, it functioned perfectly well with the dock and responded to all the usual remote-control commands.
The dock, however, doesn't have a speakerphone facility like those included with some dedicated iPod speaker kits, so you can't take a call without removing the iPhone from it.
Also, because the dock isn't integrated into the main unit, it needs its own power supply. This makes the CS-325UK messier to set up than an integrated system.
Finally, there's no video output, so you can't connect the dock up to a TV or projector to watch movies stored on your iPhone or iPod.
The Onkyo CS-325UK is relatively easy to set up and use, has good, solid sound quality and doesn't cost the earth. Given its relatively low price tag, we think it represents good value for money for those after a meaty, all-in-one system to use with their iPod.
Edited by Charles Kloet