Gear4’s new HouseParty 24/7 2:1 stereo system for iPods looks a little like a cassette deck. The product integrates an AM/FM radio (which offers excellent reception, although we'd love DAB), and has a 3.5mm line-in port. It also packs that all important snooze button, to give you an extra five to 20 minutes kip.
It’s designed to work with all iPods since the third generation, but not the iPod shuffle. iPod shuffle owners can connect their music player to the HouseParty using the line-in jack, but the remote control and other features will not function.
Manufactured in a shiny, high-gloss plastic, the unit seems to offer a good build quality. It has a clear, legible LCD display, which shows the time and enabled functions. The LCD display has three levels of brightness, cycling from full on to ambient lighting automatically, so as not to disturb your sleep.
The product ships with an AC power adaptor, a set of international plugs, and both AM and FM radio aerials. Also in the box you’ll find six iPod docking adaptors and a 16-function remote control. The device also requires two batteries to store settings in the event of a power cut.
The unit itself offers two alarms, a snooze and a mute function. For radio listening, it boasts five user-configurable channel pre-sets, which you can set to your favourite stations. It also hosts an iPod dock, which is located at the top and middle of the box. A docked iPod is charged while in use, as long as the HouseParty is switched on.
Sound output is handled by a pair of 2in 6W magnetic-shielded speakers and an ActiveBass 2.1 12W sub-woofer. ActiveBass technology is also used in digital speaker systems from the likes of Sony. That means you can get a respectable 24W of sound. In use, that’s loud enough to wake even the soundest sleeper, and fine for playing music or radio whenever you like.
Sound is remarkably well balanced and packs plenty of punch. Bass, treble and midnotes come across well, and while the stereo sound is not as finely balanced as a pair of separately situated speakers can deliver, the sound stage is wide enough that you can still get a good quality playback.