NYNE NH-5000 review

The flexible NYNE NH-5000 speaker dock offers iOS docking and wireless Bluetooth audio at a nice price, but it has some design flaws and sound quality is only average.

NYNE’s latest  iPod speaker dock, the NH-5000 ($229.95 list) offers an interesting combination of a 30-pin docking connector and wireless Bluetooth capability. That means it works with older Apple devices docked, and newer Android or iOS devices over Bluetooth. The NH-5000 sounds pretty good, too, but a number of questionable design decisions, plus some EQ and distortion issues at higher volumes, keep it from being a top choice.

Design, Connectivity, and Remote
The stylish NH-5000 measures 15.7 by 6.6 by 8 inches (HWD) and weighs 6.5 pounds. It looks more expensive than it is, thanks to its piano black gloss finish, black metal grille, and nicely curved enclosure. The 30-pin docking connector sits on a hard plastic external protrusion. The NH-5000 is large enough that an iPad docked on it actually looks good, and a small rubberized bumper in the middle of the speaker grille is strong enough to keep everything secure. Plus, the dock connector rotates forward and back on a hinge, so you can pull a device off of the NH-5000 without accidentally snapping off the connector.

Unfortunately, the dock itself doesn’t retract. A retractable dock, or at least one that’s mostly hidden from view like the one found in the Editors’ Choice Bowers & Wilkins Z2, would have made more sense here, given the NH-5000′s wireless capabilities. That said, the side of the protruding dock features a 3.5mm auxiliary input, so at least you don’t have to reach around the back of the unit to plug in a different kind of MP3 player or cell phone than the dock supports.

The top edge of the NH-5000 features a touch-sensitive control panel with capacitive controls, so you don’t feel them when you press down. They include a Power button, a Source select button, and a finicky Volume trackpad that lets you swipe right or left to change volume. I could never get this to work reliably; sometimes it seemed to miss my finger swipes. In a recessed area toward the bottom of the back panel, there’s a redundant Power switch, an AC adapter input, a full set of component video outputs, and stereo audio RCA inputs. The video outputs are a nice addition; assuming your HDTV has component video in, you can output any video stored on your iPod, iPad, or iPhone to a large screen while audio plays through the NH-5000.

Pairing via Bluetooth is as simple as can be: Press the Bluetooth button on the remote, and it lights up a flashing Bluetooth icon on the NH-5000′s touch-sensitive panel. Search for devices using your device, choose the NYNE NH-5000 when it appears, enter in ’0000′ for the PIN, and it connects almost instantly. Power the NH-5000 on, and you’ll see a blue LED light up in the bottom right corner of the speaker grille. On top, small white LEDs light up for the selected source and the current volume setting, which increase in number as you turn up the volume. The blue LED also flickers red whenever you press buttons on the remote control, which indicates that it’s receiving input.

The included remote control is a thin black slab with a variety of bubbled membrane keys for controlling the NH-5000, including Source, Volume, Track Skip, Play/Pause, Power, Mute, and four EQ modes. The remote doesn’t offer playlist control, which is unfortunate. Also in the package: An AC adapter, 3.5mm stereo auxiliary cable, component video out cable, user manual, and Quick Start guide.

Performance and Conclusions
The internal stereo amplifier outputs 25 watts per channel, and features digital signal processing to sculpt the sound. This is a vented enclosure; two bass ports on the back panel, above the extra inputs and outputs, fire backward to increase overall bass response.

About those EQ settings: You get a choice of Movie, Pop, Classic, and Rock settings, with absolutely no explanation in the manual whatsoever, and no indication which one is the default, or most natural-sounding mode. I found the Rock setting to be the most audibly pleasing, and the closest to the way most small speaker docks without configurable EQ are tuned: with a nice bump in the bass response, and a little extra treble emphasis. Classic seems to be the one that’s closest to flat, with less of a smiley EQ curve than the others (which would exaggerate bass and treble response), but it’s too harsh for most music thanks to its overly prominent midrange. Pop mode sounds dreadful; it’s all upper-midrange boost, which is too harsh even for casual listening. Movie mode boosts low-end extension for bombastic sound effects, and there’s a 10kHz treble boost that helps bring out crisp dialog but also sounds unnatural with music.

I tested the NH-5000 with an original Apple iPad docked, and with an iPhone 5 connected via Bluetooth. Flunk’s electronic trip-hop track, “Indian Rope Trick,” sounded smooth and full, with a nice upper-bass kick drum and a well-rounded sine-wave bass. Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” sounded powerful and energetic, if a bit strident, and some of the detail I usually hear in the bass guitar’s harmonics was MIA; the NH-5000′s drivers just aren’t that revealing.

Using our standard bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” it was pretty easy to get the NH-5000 to distort. Not so much in Classic mode, but with any of the others, the sound completely fell apart in the low-end as I turned the volume up, even at levels I’d consider reasonable in a small room. This isn’t a speaker dock for parties.

In a decidedly crowded field, the NYNE NH-5000 sounds about the way it should for a $230 dock, and its Bluetooth wireless mode adds value, but there are plenty of superior choices. The Editors’ Choice Bowers & Wilkins Z2 speaker dock offers beautifully transparent sound in a slightly smaller enclosure, and also features Apple’s new Lightning Connector and AirPlay compatibility, although it costs considerably more and lacks Bluetooth support. The Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II, our Editors’ Choice for wireless Bluetooth speakers, sounds a bit more neutral, is much smaller, and runs for eight hours on a battery charge, but it doesn’t offer the sheer bass oomph of the NH-5000 at lower volumes, and doesn’t charge iOS devices either. The Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox Portable delivers bombastic bass output, offers similar 30-pin docking and Bluetooth wireless capability, and also runs on D-cell batteries, but we weren’t thrilled with its audible background hiss, and it’s larger and heavier than the NH-5000 as well.

Specifications
Channels 2
Wireless Remote Control Yes
Separate subwoofer No
Power Rating (Left and Right, Each) 25 watts RMS per channel
AirPlay No
Type iPod, Wireless, iPad, iPhone, Android
Physical Dock Yes
Bluetooth Yes

Verdict
The flexible NYNE NH-5000 speaker dock offers iOS docking and wireless Bluetooth audio at a nice price, but it has some design flaws and sound quality is only average.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc