The i's have it: iPod amped speakers from Apple and Klipsch

Performance Tests

Not surprisingly, the iFi provided extended, regular response. We've come to expect no less from Klipsch. The only shortcoming we found, under our measurement conditions, was a balance that slightly favoured the lower end of the spectrum. The bass naturally extended very low, as you'd expect from such a subwoofer cabinet. The sound level was just as satisfying - though not attaining the 114 dB claimed, it'll be more than ample for close listening or to fill a room at a good level of sound. Naturally it was well above the other two models in this department.

Maximum output: 106.6 dB SPL


Extended, regular response with a balance that favoured the lower end of the spectrum a little.


The subwoofer's response extends well down, and you can hear it...

The iFi listening experience was very pleasant, with balance and definition and an absence of coloration that let you hear the music as it really sounds. Naturally, the fullness of the reproduction and the stereo image (provided the system is set up correctly) are head and shoulders above the other two systems we tested. There's nothing miraculous about this achievement - two separate speakers are simply better than two speakers built into the same small cabinet.



The Bottom Line

While not the be-all and end-all of sound systems, the iFi still offers the best music reproduction, by far, of the three products we tested here. From all points of view - including accuracy of reproduction and possible volume level - this unit will satisfy you. Still, we can't quite forget that the same qualities are available for a lot less money with products that don't include an iPod cradle...

Pros

Sound quality High maximum sound level True stereo

Cons

High price

Conclusion

When you're in love with something, money is no object. In the case of audio products you don't count watts and you'll accept peak decibel measurements of the kind that dishonest audio hawkers use. But the naked truth about iPodmania is that you pay a premium for the actual performance you get. You could get the same sound quality with a PC speaker system that sells for half the price, or even less.

In other words, being able to dock your iPod in a unit especially designed for the purpose and enjoying a little extra ease of use are privileges you pay a lot for. It's up to you to decide whether you're iPod-dependent. In the end, we found the two most interesting products to be the iPod Hi-Fi and Klipsch iFi, for very different reasons corresponding to two different types of use.

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