Review: DLO’s Home Dock Music Remote - Macenstein

Review: DLO’s Home Dock Music Remote

Posted by Dr. Macenstein

DLO Music Remote

DLO has answered the prayers of many an iPod user with their new Home Dock Music Remote. Gadget aficionados familiar with DLO’s excellent Home Dock Deluxe will find the Music Remote’s concept easy to grasp. The unit consists of a sleek docking/charging station for your iPod which you connect to your home stereo via an included mini audio cable. We’ve seen cradles such as this before, however what differentiates the Music Remote from the competition (as its name would imply) is the remote.

The Music Remote sports a very bright OLED display that allows you almost total control over your iPod from anywhere in your house. Just dock your iPod into the Music Remote’s charging cradle, sync the remote, and you are free to wander aimlessly through your house, navigating your iPod’s playlists, skipping songs, adjusting volume, even create on-the-go playlists.

DLO Music RemoteAbove: The Music Remote’s bright display is easy to read, and allows you to navigate your iPod’s music and playlists.

The remote is extremely small, yet not un-usably so. I’d say it’s roughly 2/3 the size of the iPod nano. The remote consists of 5 navigational buttons, and a bright 1-inch OLED display. The Music Remote’s display can show up to 3 lines of text, and can be set to display either song and artist or (my personal favorite) song and NEXT song. It’s amazing how quickly I have gotten used to being able to see what song is coming up next, and this feature impressed many fellow geeks here at the lab.

Navigating the remote is quite similar to navigating an iPod’s menu structure, and it shouldn’t take most iPod users long to feel right at home. The remote has a rechargeable battery which you charge directly from the cradle when not in use (TIP: initially I thought you could not charge the Music Remote while playing songs on your iPod, but you can by first changing over to “iPod mode” in the remote’s “Settings” menu). The charging cradle can also be used to sync your iPod with iTunes, as long as you buy the necessary USB adapter cable to connect it to your computer.

Using the remote, you can do almost everything you can do while holding your iPod; set up an on the go playlist, set the iPod to shuffle mode, adjust the volume, scroll through artists, playlists, or songs (via the “all songs” playlist), all from up to 150 feet away. In my house, I am unable to get 150 feet away from the unit, however I found the remote’s range was sufficient so that even when I was many rooms and a floor away from the Music Remote’s base station, the remote worked perfectly. Odds are if you can hear the speakers the Music Remote is attached to, the remote is in range. In the remote’s “settings” screen you can actually see a display of the remote’s signal strength, which can be hampered by distance and other sources of RF interference (however I did not experience any such problems).

DLO Music Remote

Not just a 1-trick pony

The Music Dock’s big brother is DLO’s Home Dock Deluxe, which, while lacking the “cool remote with display” of the Music Remote, boasts the ability to be able to display videos from your iPod on your TV via an intuitive Tivo-like menu for only $20 more. The Music Remote offers a somewhat stripped down version of the HomeDock’s video capabilities as well. You can connect the Music Remote to your TV via an iPod video cable (not included) but the remote’s control over your iPod’s videos is more limited than with music. You must manually navigate to the video you wish to watch first and start it playing from the iPod itself. The Music Remote will then allow you to pause/play and adjust volume, but that’s it. Still, it’s nice to see DLO not forsaking the video aspect of the latest iPods entirely, and after all, it IS called the MUSIC Remote.

So who needs this?

I do.

There are any number of scenarios where the Home Dock Music Remote would come in handy. We had a backyard barbecue just this weekend and I hooked the Music Remote up to a Harman Kardon Go + Play we are also reviewing (ahh, the life of a product reviewer) and it was very convenient to be able to manage the party’s music without ever leaving the grill. Additionally, the thing is just plain fun to use. I could be sitting 3 feet from the actual iPod, and still get a sick lazy thrill from skipping songs without getting up or pausing the music for a telephone call. Hammock owners in particular will appreciate the ability to manage music without having to extricate themselves from their cushy webbing. The Home Dock Music Remote may be the perfect Father’s Day gift for that tech-obsessed dad in your life.

DLO Music RemoteWhile the Music Remote can be enjoyed by any iPod user, I imagine it would be best suited to folks who have a “whole house” or multi-room type of audio system. In such a setup, the same audio source can be fed throughout the house to different speakers, allowing you to enjoy your music as your roam through your mansion. For those lucky (or rich) enough to have such a system, the Music Remote will allow you to wander far from your docked iPod and stereo and not only hear your tunes, but be able to skip songs, make playlists, see what song is coming up next, and control the volume as you go through your daily routine of hiring and firing servants.

I have the “poor man’s” equivalent in my home (well, maybe it’s the mildly-wealthy-man’s solution). Using two Airport Expresses, I can beam the same audio to both my upstairs and downstairs stereos via iTunes. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to figure out a feasible workaround that would allow me to do the same with the Music Remote. This is kind of disappointing, as to me the ability to control your stereo’s music from a distance loses its usefulness if you can’t get too far from the stereo (and your iPod) in the first place. It would be nice to be able to use iTunes to stream via the Aiport Express when the Music Remote’s cradle is connected to a computer, or at the very least to see the Music Remote tied to some wireless speakers (note to DLO, get working on that).

DLO Music Remote
Above: The back of the Music Remote’s dock, showing mini USB port, Power, and AV out ports.


The Music Remote offers a great deal of functionality at a great price, but there are of course a couple things we could wish for. First, while the menu navigation is similar to the iPod’s from a hierarchal standpoint, it is not from a hardware standpoint. Since the Music Remote doesn’t come with the iPod’s speedy click wheel, it is a little hard to navigate through large libraries as quickly as you can on an iPod. Imagine you are listening to AABA and want to quickly to get to your favorite Zamfir track. I would love to be able to push “UP” and get there instead of scrolling down through every other artist I own.

Second, I wish the Music Remote would remember settings once set. For example, as I mentioned, I like the display to show me the name of the current and upcoming song. Once I set this, it should stay that way until I tell it otherwise. As it is now, every time I disconnect the iPod and reinsert it, the display defaults back to the original setting of song and artist. The same goes for the volume level. When hooked to my stereo, I set the Music Remote’s volume to about 100%. That input level works well for my stereo, and I turn my stereo’s volume up around 26, which is a normal listening volume on that model. However, again, when I disconnect the iPod, even for a moment, the volume of the Music Remote defaults back to around 20%. This caused me some confusion at first, as I saw the Music Remote thought it was playing, but I wasn’t hearing anything. And one final comment on settings; changing settings such as shuffle on the Music Remote actually changes them on your iPod, and they stay changed when you undock. It would be nice if the Music Remote could make note of current settings, and somehow restore them on undock. All these things are not overly annoying once you realize how it works, but they ARE a little annoying, and could confuse first time users.

The thing I feel may annoy users most about the Music Remote is the resyncing issue. You must resync the Music Remote with your iPod any time you add music or change a playlist (or use a different iPod, for that matter) in order for the Music Remote to notice a change has been made. The syncing process doesn’t take too long (it takes about 2 minutes for me on an iPod with 9.5 GB or music loaded) but could get annoying if you purchase new music often or are often rearranging and creating new playlists. If you don’t resync (but are using the last iPod the Music Remote had docked) then it will still work fine, it just won’t recognize the latest additions you may have made until you redownload the lists.

Finally, and this is minor, I would like the option to leave the remote’s backlight on longer. Currently you have the option of “30 seconds” “1 minute” and “2 minutes”. I would like to see a “5 minute” option, or even an “always on” mode. I know this is a battery saving measure, and I don’t really know how long the remote would last in such a scenario, but I wasn’t able to drain it after 5 hours of what I consider “normal use” (which is me skipping songs like a mad man) at the 2 minute setting. It’s just so fun to see what song is coming up next, I don’t want to have to keep waking it to see as each song changes.

From this list it may seem as though I found much to be bothered by with the Music Remote, however that’s not the case. In reality most of these are very minor issues or suggestions for future versions (or even firmware updates, should that be possible) and listed here more to let prospective buyers better understand the workflow involved with the Music Remote than anything. In fact, I’m not sure I can recommend the Music Remote enough.

DLO Music Remote


The Home Dock Music Remote is a very cool gadget that will elicit “oohs” and possibly even “aahhs” from your fellow iPod loving friends. The remote looks cool, works as advertised, and does more than simply promote a sedentary lifestyle the way most remotes do. The ability to control your iPod from virtually anywhere, as well as create playlists and monitor upcoming tracks means this remote is more about you being up and active, enjoying the party instead of hovering near the stereo all night.

Home Dock Music Remote by DLO

Price: $129

Pros: Bright, cool-looking display; great remote range; can manage your iPod as if you were holding it from a distance of up to 150 feet; some limited video capabilities as well

Cons: Remote needs to be resynced with the iPod every time the iPod’s content is changed; can be slow to navigate through large libraries

13 Responses to “Review: DLO’s Home Dock Music Remote”
  1. rowlings says:

    “…and control the volume as you go through your daily routine of hiring and firing servants.”

    That’s why I always read your reviews.


  2. Andy says:

    very cool. I think anything with a remote makes the perfect father’s day gift. if only someone could invent a hammock with a remote…

  3. Way Cool Jr. says:

    I am having trouble imagining I am listening to AABA and want to quickly to get to my favorite Zamfir track.

  4. Adam Bezark says:

    I’ve seen several very nice reviews of this product lately, but this is one of the most helpful.

    In truth, though, I think it’s only a matter of time before Apple introduces an iPod with WiFi capabilities which serves as its own remote. It’ll be able to transmit to an AirPort Express via AirTunes, just like a Mac/iTunes can today. At that point you won’t need a product like this — you’ll just tote your iPod around the house, broacasting your music wherever you go.

  5. JoJo says:

    Great review leaving me with just one question.
    You mentioned being able to walk around the party without hovering around the music. To prevent people changing the music while you’re away, is it possible to put the screen lock on the iPod and use the remote to prevent any fiddling?

  6. JoJo,
    In answer to your question, the screen turns to a “locked down” screen when playing automatically. the “OK to disconnect” line is displayed, along with the DLO logo, somehow. So, yes, a drunken party goer fiddling with the scroll wheel will not do anything, however, if someone wants to screw up your party, they’ll find a way. (Been there.)


    -The Doc

  7. JoJo says:

    Thanks Doc

  8. Glenn says:

    I just bought one of these today. It looks great, but frankly, the sound quality through my home theater was poor. It sounded very muddy. All my other equipment sounds great still, so I think it’s the DLO. I’m just going to buy a Monster cable and hope that works better.

  9. Y.KANDI says:

    plzs hive mee LO’s Home Dock Re.

  10. Steve says:

    Cool but is going back due to many issues.

    Sound is not clean.

    If you click on “Movie” the remote is locked up until you remove and reinsert the IPOD from the dock.

    When you remove the IPOD from the dock, it is locked up and will only work with the dock, not in your pocket.

  11. Music Man says:

    I’m a music teacher, and this is the perfect thing for a classroom stereo system. I had been looking at other docks to integrate into my classroom sound system, but none of them offered the remote display. Now, when I’m in my busy classroom, I don’t have to be right at my iPod to play something and see what I’m playing.

  12. Redman says:

    One big problem with this product is that is doesn’t know about the CDs, just Artists, Playlists and Songs. So you can not play the new CD unless you only own one by that artist or you set up a new playlist for each CD. Stupid design.

  13. ChopperCharles says:

    The reason the sound quality is muddy is because the homedock processes the line out from the ipod through it’s own volume control hardware. I’ve messed with another dock with similar features, and I ended up opening it up and soldering a wire directly from the ipod’s line out pins on the dock connector directly to the L and R audio jacks, and then cutting the traces on the circuit board that went to these jacks. The difference in sound quality was night and day.

    But, that was on a cheap eBay knockoff. I’m just appalled that every single dock I’ve found has a volume control that just destroys the sound quality. I can control the volume from my stereo remote thank you very much, I don’t need another one in my system.


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