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iPod Accessory Reviews: Speakers

Klipsch iGroove

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Reviewed Dec. 18, 2005 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

"Big sound" portable speaker systems for the iPod are booming these days. Not so long ago, we had only the Bose SoundDock to choose from, but now Altec Lansing and Klipsch have gotten into the act, with more to come in 2006. These speaker systems aren't meant for your travel bag but rather your bedroom, living room or small business in need of some tunes. Weighing in at 4.6 pounds and measuring more than a foot across, the Klipsch iGroove is perfect for carrying from room to room and is loud enough to fill even a party with sound. They list for $20 less than the Bose SoundDock, the first and most popular large sound solution for the iPod, yet beat the Bose on a few key points.

Klipsch iGroove

The iGroove, like the SoundDock, uses a wall of sound design, with the iPod nestled in a docking cradle just in front of the spacious speaker grill. Their design is modern and artsy with a funky backward rake most apparent from the side. The finish is silver and the enclosure is made of ABS plastic. One thing we really like is the rubberized adjustable back support for the iPod— side it up or down to hold the iPod snug. Side rubber grips also keep the iPod in place and provide some isolation from woofer vibration. The iGroove works with all iPods that have a dock connector and an adapter is needed only for the iPod nano (the adapter is included in the box now, if yours came without one, contact Klipsch with your speaker's serial number and they'll send you one). Klipsch also includes a J-cup adapter and short 3.5mm stereo audio lead should you wish to use the iGroove with a different brand of MP3, MiniDisc or other portable audio player. This trumps the SoundDock which only works with the iPod and has no auxiliary 3.5mm stereo inputs.

The iGroove, like most iPod speaker systems, will charge your iPod while it's docked. Like the Bose, the included AC power brick is surprisingly large and heavy and the unit operates only on AC, not batteries. The front panel has volume controls and a power button. The included IR remote has buttons for changing track, volume, play/pause and power. It's an attractive, curvy silver affair, like the iGroove itself.

How does it sound?

Great! For speakers this compact, the sound is surprisingly good. Of course they beat the super-portable iPod speaker solutions (the kind that fold and fit in your bag) because the iGroove has larger speakers and greater physical channel separation. The iGroove uses a pair of 1" Tractrix horn loaded tweeters and a pair of 2.5" woofers. They have a crossover at 2.9kHz completing the true two way speaker design. If you're a classical fan, you'll particularly like the iGroove which offers flat frequency response, punchy highs and a bit deeper (yet clear) bass than the Bose. The iGroove's sound is best described as accurate, as much as this can be true of small speakers. Bass isn't overemphasized and the treble doesn't overwhelm, which could be a problem with small drivers. The highest frequencies, such as the top violin notes in an orchestral movement can sound just a tiny bit harsh, but the speakers did a great job of reproducing the lower treble sound of Miles Davis' muted trumpet in his duet with Coltrane in Fran-Dance. Bass is strong by small speaker standards and it's clear; never muddy. The iGroove won't shake your desk like the Altec Lansing iM7 but the bass is properly represented. The speakers do well with rock and pop music, with bass, drums, guitar and other instruments clearly represented yet not overwhelming vocals.

 

 

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Klipsch iGroove vs. Bose SoundDock

The arguments and tastes that govern home hi-fi audio are in effect in the portable market too. There are those folks who love the Bose sound, which creates a very good 3D space and uses active EQ and a DSP to control frequency response, generally filling out the midrange. And there are those who prefer a more pure sound and don't want anyone or anything else messing with EQ and dynamic range: Klipsch people. Klipsch has been in the speaker business a long time, and I remember 20 years ago considering their offerings as some of the best bookshelf audiophile home stereo speakers available. The sound, just as digitized, is what you'll hear: no mid-range padding, no extra bass, no cut-off highs and not a smidgen of dynamic range compression. As a classical music fan, I personally prefer colorless speakers and so love the iGroove. The drawbacks are few, the most notable is that highs such as high passages in string sections or even high electric guitar solos played up the neck can sound the slightest bit harsh while the Bose roll off those frequencies so you'll not think the same passages as harsh. While Bose compresses the dynamic range the Klipsch leave it intact, revealing the full emotional range of the music at hand (though you may have to fiddle with volume during a song as a result).

Conclusion

Pure music. Loud music. Great dynamic range. That's the iGroove. While these speakers can't compete with a good home stereo system, they will beat the pants off of ultra-portables and most computer speakers. They hold their own against the Bose SoundDock, offering slightly deeper bass and greater dynamic range in the process.

Pro: Great clarity and colorless reproduction of music. Big enough sound to fill a large room. Attractive design and useful integrated carry handle. Can be used with other portable music players that have a standard 3.5mm stereo out jack.

Con: Can only be run on AC, not batteries.

Price: $279

Web Site: www.klipsch.com

Comparison Shopping: Where to Buy

Specs:

Compatibility: All iPods with a dock connector.

Shielded? No.

Sound Specs: Frequency response: 65Hz - 17kHz. Crossover frequency: 2.9kHz. Tuned port . Output level (SPL) 98 db. Class D amplifier.

Woofers and Tweeters : a pair of 1" MicroTractrix™ Horn high frequency horn tweeters and 2.5" fiber composite woofers.

In the Box: iGroove, AC adapter, IR remote control, dock adapters to fit various iPods.

Size: 5.75" H x 16.25” W x 7.25 ” D. Weight: 4.6 pounds.

 

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