Well, Apple did it again. I saw the ipod Hi-Fi the day it was introduced and decided that the time was finally right for a dedicated iPod speaker system to go with my 60GB iPod. I placed the order for the iPod Hi-Fi on Apple’s website and it was at my door two days later. You can also get yours at Amazon.com.
Over the past couple of years I have been mighty close to buying several of the higher end systems including the Bose SoundDock, the Altec-Lansing iM7 and the Klipsh iGroove. That Klipsch system almost had me! BTW, my goal for what ever solution I bought was that it be one piece and rival a good home system. There are a couple of Sub/Satellite systems that do a really good job but I plan to use the iPod Hi-Fi both at home and in the warehouse/studio so I wanted to be able to grab it and go fairly easily. I can see an emerging iPod Hi-Fi bag market out there for folks who like to take their tunes with them.
So, Apple brought us an amplified speaker enclosure called the iPod Hi-Fi. Apple claims that unlike some other iPod boom boxes on the market, the new system produces “home stereo quality” sound. Seems pretty ambitious to claim that a reasonably small enclosure with two 80mm mid-range drivers and a 130mm dual voice coil woofer with a ported bass reflex design could rival a good home system. Well, does it? Actually, I am really impressed. I hesitate to say that it is audiophile quality, especially because even with decent mP3 encoding or AAC form the iTunes store I can hear a bit of artifacting from the compression, but it is definitely a step above the other systems I have listened to. I will be trying the Apple Lossless compression soon to see how it sounds with a higher quality file.
To use the speaker you simply plug your iPod into the top of the iPod hi-Fi where there is a universal iPod dock, which includes plug-ins for every iPod model that uses a dock connector. In addition, a 3.5mm input on the back that lets you connect an older iPod without a dock connector or other music player. There is also a S/PIDF optical interface so you can run a direct digital signal in if you want to.
One of the nice features that the iPod Hi-Fi has, and many higher-end iPod sound systems lack, is a battery option for completely portable use, it runs on six D-cell batteries. The iPod Hi-Fi also has nice built-in handles that make it easy to carry. It kind of reminds me of the Blue and White G3 though at 14.5 pounds (16.7 w/batteries) it is not as heavy.
If you look at the bottom of the iPod Hi-Fi you’ll see a soft, rubber pad that really keeps the unit in place as well as helping to isolate the speaker from what it is placed on. I could just see a system where someone had not thought of this vibrating around whit the powerful low end that this system is capable of.
Another small but welcome feature is that someone actually thought to include a nice, long AC cord. The white cord is 10 feet long and very flexible. Just another little touch that makes this a well thought out system.
Newer iPods had a hidden software feature that is activated when you plug your iPod in , iPods plugged into the iPod Hi-Fi will have a new “Speakers” item in the main menu to adjust speaker tone settings. Of course the built in EQ settings also affect the sound and that is good. <most folks should be able to find a tonality that suits them
The iPod Hi-Fi also includes the same Apple Remote included with Front Row-capable Macs.
The iPod Hi-Fi is available now for $349 and you can get it at Amazon.com or the Apple store.