Reviewed Hardware: Speaker System for Mobile Music Devices
Manufacturer: Ferguson Hill
Fergusan Hill FH007 and FH008 Mini Sound System
I love my music. . . Unfortunately I do not love the fact that I require a hard drive on my PC to store my digital music files, a memory card to store copies for use on my MP3 player and lastly another copy burned onto a CD to play on my home stereo system.
Before MP3 or digital file music, I was happy with a CD that played great music on my home stereo, on my PCs CD-ROM drive and on my portable CD player. Nowadays, it is hard work to ensure I have the flexibility to play my music anywhere.
External speakers for MP3 players have never really been in a league that competes with home stereo systems in sound quality until now. There are companies like Altec Lansing, Boston Acoustics, Sony and many other traditional home stereo speaker manufacturers that have gotten into the MP3 marketplace. Another company is called Ferguson Hill. Ferguson Hill has transformed their traditional home stereo system and created a desktop version. The sound quality revivals most other desktop sound systems created for digital music enjoyment.
First, no one currently comes close to the Ferguson Hill FH007 in styling and visual appeal. The look of the speakers system is out of this world. Mainly created with the use of aluminum and acrylic, this speaker system is the perfect eye candy for any design enthusiast. The base system which is classified as the FH007, comes with the amplifier, 2 loudspeakers to handle the high and mid range sound plus 2 bass speakers. The horn on the loudspeaker and the sphere shaped casing of the bass speaker are made of clear acrylic.
You might think this speaker system is just an art piece and has little value when it comes to music enjoyment but this is not the case. I was surprised when I first plugged in my MP3 player (i-Mate Jas Jar Windows Mobile PDA to the FH007. Until I saw and heard it myself, I never would have believed that my MP3 player could deliver such sound quality and clarity. The FH007 clearly improves the volume level and overall sound output coming from a very small music device.
As a comparison, I have connected my MP3 to the JVC RX-6030V Home Surround sound stereo amplifier. The auxiliary input on the JVC just does not have the capacity to handle the headphone out of my MP3 music player and reproduce the music with any true fidelity. Normal to loud volume levels would introduce massive amounts of distortion and in the end not suitable as an amplifier for my MP3 music. The Ferguson Hill sound system is truly the opposite. Normal to loud volume levels would produce crisp and clean music. I can now listen to MP3 digital music files directly from my MP3 player without the use of headphones and also allow others to listen together.
Original CD players and CD based music would allow you to hear all the subtle sounds and various layers in the music especially when you listen to classical, jazz or orchestral music. MP3 files on the other hand lose much of this clarity and full sound depending on the MP3 player and headphones used. Definitely, plugging an MP3 player to a standard home stereo system does not improve the sound quality. Most external sound systems geared for MP3 players do provide the added volume and sound output but not the true home system sound quality level. I can say the Ferguson Hill sound system does deliver the true home stereo sound quality from a MP3 player.
When I watch movies at home, the JVC system handles the Dolby surround sound and feeds the signal to my Boston Acoustic surround sound speakers and to my Audiosource book shelf speakers. These sound great and do provide the sense of being in a theatre.
To really see how well the FH007 performs, I connected my TV sound to the FH007. I was blown away at how well a normal TV program sounded. The sound was much fuller and cleaner. The FH007 system blew me away and though it does not support surround sound, the impact of the action movie like Top Gun was still a joy to watch. The diameter of the FH007 bass speakers are larger compared to my home stereo book shelf speakers and this alone could be one contributing factor to the awesome sound.
Now that I was truly intrigued and happy at the sound quality of the FH007, it was time to connect the FH008 subwoofer and see how much better the sound might be. For those that do not use a subwoofer on their home stereo or home surround sound system, you are missing a layer of sound that truly makes the movies sound life like. Listening to sound emanating from a subwoofer alone is not impressive by any means. The sound is more like very low rumbling noise than clear distinct sound. By adding this to the overall sound output, you enhance and broaden the range of the sound coming from the regular speakers and truly bring action movies and documentaries to life.
When I first turned on the FH008 subwoofer I was also amazed at how well the very low bass sound came through and enhanced the overall quality of the TV sound. Now switching back to regular music, I inserted a number of different CD’s from classical, Crowded House to a combo 80′s New Wave synth pop CD. The fuller and richer sound coming from the FH007 and the FH008 is truly astounding. My current home stereo system just does not come close to the overall sound reproduction and clarity coming from the FH007 and FH008. The last test was to connect my MP3 player back in. Now that the FH008 is connected to the F007, I was again blown away at how well the bass sounds were coming through. The subwoofer has on the back its own frequency and volume level controls. I had to adjust and readjust these often depending on the CD or MP3 file I was listening too. It was not an issue with movies though. Just set it once and the levels where OK. I would have preferred the controls to be on the front since the back does not really look appealing.
Installation Ease: 8
Fun Factor: 10
Online Support: NO
- No treble or bass adjustments. Only Volume.
- The volume knob is too small.
- Loudspeakers are too tall for use on a normal book shelf
- Cables are permanently attached which prevents custom lengths to be easily used.
- No provisions for multiple sound sources.
- When using the FH008, the bass can be overpowering depending on the original recording levels.
- Excellent reproduction of digital MP3 and other music file formats.
- Speakers blend into the surrounding making them a pleasant addition to the decor.
- The amplifier has a small foot print and light weight compared to traditonal home amplifiers.
- Great sound even at low volume levels.
Compared to the original MSRP of the i-Mate Jasjar which was my first source for the MP3 music, the FH007 and FH008 combination price is slightly lower at around $1000 USD. The cost is still a bit high for me since most good home surround sound stereo systems are under $600.00 USD. A home stereo system allows for multiple input sources like CD, DVD, video, TV plus the use of an optical digital sound input. The FH007 only provide analog sound input. The FH007 plus the FH008 still is a great option for those music enthusiasts willing to spend the extra to get a truly stylist and rich sounding external sound system for their portable music player. I would recommend this package to those not limited in space and the pocket book. Ferguson Hill has captured the true essence of what a speaker system should sound like when connected to a portable MP3 music player. Now, can you imagine the sound quality if I was using a more sophisticated digital music player like any of the Apple iPods as the sound source?
Overall Rating: 8.25
You can go to Ferguson Hill for more details.