First on our playlist was Graphite, the brand-new track from Aussie D'n'B rockers Pendulum. At low volume, without the Philips DBB bass enhancement, sound quality was as we'd expect. That is to say, it was clear but lacking any thump. With DBB switched on, the bass instantly packs a hell of a punch and adds that much-needed rumble in the low end. Thrust the volume up to the max, however, and the bass is rather overpowering. With DBB switched off, it's too underpowered. The natural bass produced by the system is below average, so it relies on the DBB enhancement.
Moving on to some pseudo-emo geek rock, a track by Weezer sounded generally decent enough, but mids were slightly muddy, resulting in the the twin guitars losing their individuality. Also, in the high end, the slightly panned tambourine blended into cymbals played throughout the song. There's much to be said for the volume of the DCM230, which goes pretty high and is easily enough to fill a room. But definition is lost as a result and the subtly muffled mids become more noticeable.
A little acoustic rock from Dashboard Confessional sounded good, though. With DBB enabled, there was a certain prominence to the deep toms used by the drummer, but it was acceptable. The steel strings of the acoustic guitars sounded good and the high vocal lines cut through nicely.
With a slick design, great build and intuitive integration with iPods, the DCM230 pretty much justified its £200 price tag. There's nothing particularly outstanding here and audiophiles will immediately criticise the sub-hi-fi audio performance, which is very average. But for the casual listener and music fan, there's not much to complain about.
It's not the single most enjoyable system to operate, but with a little practice and a less critical ear, the DCM230 has the potential to please many.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide