Review: The Dolry Hi-Fi Stone from C4 Electronics
When Apple first introduced the Lightning connector with the launch of the iPhone 5 in September 2012, 30-pin to Lightning adapters were also announced. This gave folks who'd just spent a wad of cash on quality speaker docks from the likes of Bowers & Wilkins a way to avoid expensive upgrades, or helped prevent the forced retirement of old favorites like the Bose SoundDock 10. Music lovers could also choose to go wireless with a 30-pin Bluetooth receiver and enjoy fairly decent fidelity, so long as they didn't wander too far off the beaten track and go out of range. Now Sweden's C4 Electronics has released the Dolry Stone, a cute little device that's claimed to be the world's first 30-pin adapter compatible with Apple AirPlay, DLNA, Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct. Read on for our hands-on review.
In the box
- Dolry Stone
- User guide
C4 Electronics produces two versions of its Hi-Fi Stone – a Dolry S (HBX101) with three capacitive touch buttons on the front, and a standard Dolry (HBX100) with just a status light and reset button. Gizmag was sent the latter. Both devices are available in black or white, and essentially transform a speaker dock or Hi-Fi system sporting a 30-pin connector into a Wi-Fi audio receiver capable of streaming music from an iOS or Android device.
The freedom to wander
The 60 x 41 x 10 mm (2.4 x 1.6 x 0.4 in) Stone powers on automatically, and grabs the juice it needs from the host speaker system (something to keep in mind if you're using a portable audio thrower or if your Hi-Fi unit's 30-pin connector doesn't provide any power). The status light then begins to flash while the unit sets up a direct Wi-Fi network. Once a steady light is displayed, you can search for this open network in the Wi-Fi settings of your iOS or Android device, and connect.
The Dolry device has built-in support for AAC, AAC+, Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WMA, AIFF, ALAC and FLAC audio formats, and benefits from 24-bit/192 kHz audio encoding. On my iPad mini and iPod touch, the Stone appeared in the list of available AirPlay units, but I had to ensure that I had a DLNA music app running on my Android tablet and smartphone before being able to stream audio via the Stone.
The sound quality of the streamed music appeared identical to the output from a docked Apple device. Loud and clear was also the order of the day for the Android devices.
To use the Hi-Fi Stone over my home Wi-Fi network, I had to download and install the free Dolry Music app. After following a few onscreen prompts to get my router to act as a wireless bridge between the Stone and my chosen device, the Dolry unit rebooted.
If the Stone status light flashes yellow and blue, the unit is unable to establish a connection with the router and will need to be reset and setup again. The unit is reset by using a paper clip to press a button at the top until the status light changes color, indicating that the previous stored settings have been deleted.
Once the status light glowed steady, I selected my home network from those displayed in the Wi-Fi settings on the iOS or Android device. The Stone appeared in the available AirPlay or DLNA unit list. This connection method allowed me to control the tunes belting out of the speaker system from anywhere in the house using the Apple or Android device in my pocket.
The Dolry Music app also holds the promise of access to internet radio stations, but the two services available at the time of writing are both offering Chinese stations only.
"Our RND department is in China," explains C4's David Andersson. "This is why Chinese radio stations where integrated first. And China is also a big market. We are working on an API to integrate European and US radio stations at the moment. Deadline is during this fall. Users can download other Internet Radio Apps and then stream the music to Dolry with AirPlay. Just like they do to their Apple TV and other AirPlay compatible devices."
Only one device can wirelessly connect to a Stone at any one time, so if you share your home with other streaming music fans, you may have to form an orderly queue to use the Dolry unit.
The bottom line
Where once our 30-pin speaker system was limited to playing music from a 4th gen iPod touch, the rather smart-looking Dolry Hi-Fi Stone has opened it up to tunes from an iPad mini, a Galaxy Note 8 and a couple of Android smartphones. It's proved easy to setup and use (ignoring the internet radio limitations for a moment), and I've no complaints whatsoever about the sound quality.
The only major drawback is the price. The Dolry Hi-Fi Stone is available now for €84.99 (about US$100), while the version sporting touch buttons costs a little more at €89.99. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Apple's 30-pin to Lightning adapters are available for under $30, and you can snag a decent Bluetooth receiver for around the same price. If you prefer direct Wi-Fi over unsightly cables or AirPlay over Bluetooth, then the Stone is a good, if somewhat pricey, choice.
Source: C4 Electronics