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iPod Accessory Reviews: Speakers

Logitech mm50 Speakers

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Reviewed Feb. 2006 by Jacob Spindel

So you loaded all the hot tracks for your big party onto your iPod. You even practiced your latest dance steps. As you confidently begin to welcome your guests, you suddenly realize that iPods can't play out loud. Whoops.

There are several reasons you might want to play an iPod out loud, and I've always admired the myriad of portable speaker devices I see every time I go to my local Apple Store. Today, we take a look at Logitech's mm50 model, which features a standard 2.0 configuration (two speakers, no subwoofer) and includes a carrying case, infrared remote, AC adaptor, and 2-year warranty.

Technologic

The mm50 speaker set uses two 3" pressure driver speakers, which Logitech says are specially designed to maximize bass and minimize distortion. Their built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery is rated for 10 hours of playback time and does not suffer from the "memory effect," although it is not user-replaceable.

The device feels very compact, at a mere 12.75 inches by 3.75 inches by 1.4 inches, and with a weight of 23 ounces, it feels very easy to zip it into the included carrying case and take it with you to just about anywhere. It also features 3-D sound processing that makes the audio sound as if it were coming from a much wider source than it actually is.

Logitech mm50 in case

The front of the speaker set consists of a standard iPod Dock Connector surrounded by the two speakers, and on the right side are four buttons for the volume control, 3D-sound toggle, and power on/off. The power switch glows in various colors to give you a clear idea whether it is charging, charged, or running low on battery power, which is a good way to make this information readily available, but this also means that it will either glow or blink anytime it is plugged in, and since it is a fairly bright glow, the speakers can be a bit inconvenient to store in your bedroom at night, even for people like me who are accustomed to various electronics blinking at all hours. The Dock Connector is compatible with every iPod that has a Dock Connector, but it won't give you any syncing or charging abilities you didn't already have (e.g., you still can't sync your nano over FireWire).

 

 

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Included in the box are two plastic adaptors to make different iPod models fit more securely and comfortably in the Dock Connector bay. One of these inserts is for the mini, and the other is for the nano and other slim models. I would've liked to see an adaptor specifically designed for the nano, since it is not a perfect fit like the mini's insert is.

The back is flat except for three ports: a line-in connector, a Dock Connector pass-through, and the AC adaptor port. The line-in connector allows you to use the speakers with non-iPod devices and iPods that don't have a Dock Connector, but it doesn't really make much sense to buy these if you don't own an iPod with a Dock Connector (and the cabling that would be required for this is not included). If you connect the pass-through Dock port to a standard iPod sync cable (like the ones that come with most iPods), you can sync while your iPod is in the speakers' Dock, and if the AC adaptor is connected, it will charge both the speakers and the iPod.

The remote has more controls than are available on the speakers themselves, including a play/pause button and next track and previous track buttons in addition to duplicates of all the buttons on the unit.

Neither Logitech nor other sources have provided any numeric measurements of the speakers' volume or wattage. However, I found the volume to be more than enough for a small-to-moderate size gathering.

logitech mm50 iPod speakers

 

Play That Funky Music

I tested the Logitech mm50 speakers with both an iPod nano and an iPod mini, and found the audio quality to be about the same with both. As a "reference point," I compared these speakers primarily to the XtremeMac FS1 earbuds that I reviewed here, and to a standard pair of Logitech speakers that I have connected to my computer. Here's how they fared:

A cappella/Vocal: A cappella tracks sound similar to the way they might sound on a pair of midrange earbuds, such as the ones Apple includes with iPods. Voices are clear and pleasant, although the background singers and other smaller details often fade into the background.

Podcast/Voice: Podcasts are not known for having the highest fidelity in the first place, and most speakers and earbuds I've tried were actually much better than you would need to get the best possible sound from a podcast. Thus, it's no surprise that podcasts sound just about optimal on these speakers as well. I'm not sure why you would want to crank out podcasts at a party, but if you ever need to use these speakers for a podcast, you won't be disappointed.

Rock/Pop: As I've mentioned in other reviews, modern pop is enhanced and mixed to an extent that I don't even understand, and that fares well for these speakers. Rock and pop songs are clear and maintain their original "feel", or sense. Although you may not hear the stunning level of clarity provided by products like the XtremeMac FS1 earbuds, you definitely won't have to tell people, "Well, trust me, this song sounds good when I listen at home."

Hip-Hop, Rap, R&B: The bass output provided by the mm50 is powerful and crisp. This makes hip-hop music sound better than you may be used to hearing from small speakers like the ones built into many computers, or from inexpensive earbuds. I would say that the bass was not quite as strong as my (physically larger) Logitech computer speakers, but it still sounds quite good.

Country: I still hate country. If that bothers you, feel free to write your own review.

Praise You

Factoring in the small size, reasonable price, ample features, and above average sound quality, the Logitech mm50 is a winner in my book. You might be able to find speakers that sound better, or ones that are cheaper, but the mm50s are the best balance of all of these categories, packing in all the elements you would want at a price you can still afford.

Pros: Nice size and design, including remote and carrying case; good sound quality; integrates well with many iPod models.

Cons: LEDs can be mildly annoying; nano adaptor seems like a bit of an afterthought.

Price: $149.99

Web Site: www.logitech.com

Comparison Shopping: Where to Buy

Specs:

In the box: TSpeaker system, world AC adapter, wireless remote, manual and travel case.

Size: 12.75 inches by 3.75 inches by 1.4 inches. Weight: 23 ounces.

Can run on batteries? Yes, Lithium Ion battery rated at 10 hours playback.

 

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