Apple iPod Hi-Fi review
Some good design touches and decent sound quality, but a staggering price tag
Review Date: 1 Jun 2005
Reviewed By: Ross Burridge
Price when reviewed: (£249 inc VAT)
Apparently, Apple felt that third-party manufacturers were failing to meet the potential of the iPod as the primary music source of the home. The result, the iPod Hi-Fi, is about the same size and price as the mini systems that Apple hopes it will replace.
Mounted in the speaker baffle are two 80mm cones, with a dual-ported 130mm woofer in the centre. Each driver is separately enclosed and the whole construction double-skinned to reduce vibration-related distortion. The quoted maximum sound pressure level is a respectable 108dB at 1m (or 102dB when running on battery power).
A universal iPod dock sits on top, with seven inserts supplied to accept all models bar the shuffle. Soft-touch volume controls are placed in front of that. At the rear, there's a mains input and a 3.5mm audio input able to handle both analog and S/PDIF signals. An infrared receiver and status LED are located underneath the baffle.
Bizarrely, the supplied Apple remote will only allow you to skip tracks and adjust the volume; for instance, to select a specific album you have to get up and prod at the iPod itself. Once there, you'll notice a new 'speakers' option on a connected iPod's menu. This offers tone control (normal and bass/treble boost), plus options for backlight and album art, which can be set to display in full-screen mode.
Sound quality is better than you might assume. The soundstage is surprisingly wide, but the stereo sweet spot is strictly limited. On the plus side, there's a commendable lack of distortion and the frequency response is full and balanced. The bass response is tight, and the top end sounds clear and airy. But mid-range, while crisp, lacks any real warmth.
To make claims of audiophile quality is stretching the term, particularly as it's all compressed music in the first place. But there's some good design here, from the lavish packaging to the battery enclosure. Even putting the baffle on and off is a joy.
Battery life on six D-cell alkaline batteries was just over three hours at mid-volume, after which the unit dropped the volume and played for another two hours. You've got to question the portability when it weighs just under 8kg fully loaded, but at least there's the option.
Despite the clever design touches, the iPod Hi-fi won't replace even a semi-decent mini-system. Given the price, as an overall experience it's mediocre.
Author: Ross Burridge
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Universal wireless charging gets a boost from Microsoft
- Amazon Phone: release date, features and 3D display
- Apple offers sneak peak at OS X via Beta Seed
- American grip on web loosens ahead of key net meeting
- Apple fixes security flaw, fingerprint scanner with iOS 7.1.1
- Heartbleed: LibreSSL scrubs "irresponsible" OpenSSL code
- Windows Cloud: should Microsoft mimic Chrome OS?
- Lytro unveils its next light-field camera: the $1,599 Illum
- Microsoft supercharges PowerPoint with Office Mix
- Hello Cortana, it's nice to meet you
- Windows 8.1 Update: an abject surrender
- The insane economics of Sky Now TV
- No such thing as a free app... so pay up if you want quality
- Time to outlaw crapware-laden installers
- Windows Phone 8.1 video: hands-on
- Office for iPad: key information
- Why every PC buyer owes Richard Durkin a debt of gratitude
- HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: 2014's big-hitters compared
- Windows XP end of life: key information
- How to upgrade from Windows XP to Ubuntu
- The great iPhone ripoff and how it works
- Heartbleed: what you need to know and do
- Data recovery: inside the clean room
- Best tablet PCs to buy in 2014
- How much RAM do you really need?
- News of the weird: the strangest ever tech stories
- Five hyped technologies: disruptive or not?
- Piracy's dying: why we're all going straight
- Office: should you buy it, rent it - or dump it?
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?
- The best Android antivirus apps for 2014
- Headings vs headers: how to use both in Word