Sometimes, it amazes me to look at how quickly a segment of the marketplace can get saturated. More amazing are the segments of the consumer electronics business that didn’t exist three years ago, but are overwhelmed with new products today.
One of those areas is the iPod speaker market. iHome, iMotion, iDock, iWhatever…there are more options than we know what to do with! Who would have thought that so many people would want to ‘dock’ their iPods and listen on anything but those pearly white ear buds? Thankfully, options are a plenty for great sound from your iPod while you are at home or in the office.
More and more of the ‘High End’ Speaker manufacturers are seeing gold at the end of the rainbow in this arena and that is good news for us all.
In steps Klipsch, a company with an impeccable reputation for high quality sound and their new iGroove HG Speaker System. How does it stack up against the competition? Read on for my thoughts. Now, I will admit to a bi of bias before I start this review – I have been a Klipsch customer for over 20 years. My home theater is made up exclusively of high end Klipsch speakers all around and I have always thought that their ‘horn’ tweeter produced the clearest and most natural highs of any high end speaker.
So, I was very excited to receive the iGroove HG – an affordable product from Klipsch for the iPod.
Since 1946, Klipsch Audio Technologies has been building no-compromise, premium-quality audio products. As one of the first U.S. loudspeaker companies, Klipsch is now a leading global manufacturer of high-performance loudspeakers and other entertainment products for homes, computers, professional cinemas and commercial venues.
From state-of-the-art home theater to hidden multi-room sound, Klipsch offers high-performance audio solutions for every application and lifestyle.
Klipsch distributes its ‘best of class’ Reference Series loudspeakers and home theater systems to audio/video specialty stores worldwide. The company’s Synergy Series, which represents the world’s greatest value in high-performance home entertainment, can be found at Best Buy stores nationwide, Eldorado electronic stores throughout Russia and many other fine retailers worldwide.
Officially announced at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, Klipsch and GN Mobile, the world’s leading provider of mobile audio accessories, have teamed up to collaborate on the development and marketing of cutting-edge audio accessories for the mobile music market.
This alliance enables both companies to leverage one another’s brand and technological capabilities in order to maximize their market penetration into mobile music, specifically in the areas of speaker solutions, headphones and headsets
Klipsch is the only manufacturer in the world to carry THX Certification on products in four categories – professional cinema, home theater, multimedia and electronics.
Unlike other docking speaker systems on the market, the iGroove HG works with most all MP3 player brands, as well as any gadget that has an audio out or headphone jack utilizing a standard miniplug, including cell phones, gaming machines and portable satellite radios. All third and fourth generation dockable iPods dock into the unit for charging. Special iPod mini and nano adaptors come with the system for secure docking, while the shuffle and other devices connect via the included ‘universal’ J-cup adaptor.
A true two-way system, the iGroove HG gets its dynamic soul courtesy of dual 2.5-inch woofers in a ported enclosure, premium crossover networks and dual 1-inch MicroTractrix(tm) Horn-loaded tweeters. Aside from its silver predecessor, the iGroove HG is the only speaker system in this category utilizing horn technology, a highly efficient design that reproduces genuine, lifelike sound.
In addition to easily filling a room with smooth, crisp sound, the iGroove HG is also extremely simple to operate. All you have to do is plug it in, pop in an iPod and hit play. The included IR handheld remote handles full system control, while the integrated handle makes toting it around a breeze.
iGroove HG Specifications
65 Hz – 17 kHz
maximum acoustic output
98 dB SPL @ 1m
high frequency horn
ABS plastic enclosure/dock and remote
iPod docking connector Stereo mini auxiliary input J-Cup adaptor (included, uses mini auxiliary input)
5.5′ x 16′ x 6.5′
IR remote, iPod (r) docking station with charger
Black high-gloss paint
Works with most all MP3 player brands
Dual 2.5-inch woofers and dual 1-inch MicroTractrix(tm) Horn-loaded tweeters
IR handheld remote control
Design of the iGroove HG
Without question, the iGroove HG is the best looking, sleekest design in any iPod after-market speaker system I have seen. From a distance, it looks like it has wings – gently sweeping to the sides.
The finish is a beautiful ‘Piano’ black lacquer which matches the black iPod beautifully. This is the first iPod speaker system I have had where people look at it and are just drawn to touch it – it looks that nice.
The iGroove is very simple in its design to accommodate the iPod. The full sized 30G or 80G iPod just gently slides into the opening in the front and connects to the Dock Connector. The front of the unit is uncluttered – just a Power button and a volume up and volume down button. There are adapters for the iPod Nano, and a ‘J-Cup’ which is an adapter that slides into the dock connector and has an audio jack for connecting to the Shuffle or any other MP3 player with a headphone jack.
Ease of Use:
The iGroove could not be easier to use – just plug in the iPod, hit the power switch and find the music you want to hear – it is that simple. The iGroove comes with an IR remote control which is supposed to control the iGroove from up to 30 feet away. I found that about 15 was the range and it needed to be level with the IR sensor on the iGroove. The Remote was simple enough to use – power, volume control, skip to the next track and pause/play are all easily controlled with the remote.
This is the be all and end all of a speaker system like this – other units may have more features – but we buy these babies for sound. So, I put the iGroove through its paces with a wide variety of music. I have been very spoiled by high quality Klipsch sound in my home theatre and I was curious if the ‘Klipsch Family Sound’ could actually be transmitted from an affordable all in one design.
I listened to instrumental music – piano from George Winston and Guitar from Michael Hedges. Then I fired up Peter Frampton’s new album to hear the digitized guitar mastery of this Rock legend. I was impressed by how consistently the music sounded so incredibly crisp and clear. Those little 2.5 ‘ Klipsch tweeters really did produce beautiful sound.
I then listened to the vocals of Elton John, Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman and John Mayer. Again, the sound was crystal clear – to the point that you can audibly hear the breathing between the notes – just like on the larger Klipsch systems.
Next up was group ensembles and bands – The Stones, Springsteen – and other music with lots of instrumentals, vocals and bass. Here, the Klipsch showed a little bit of the limitations of a small system. While certainly loud enough to fill a small to medium sized room – there was a ‘fullness’ that was obviously not the same as a full sized system. The bass – the deep bass was lacking punch in the iGroove. Drums were crisp and had punch – but if the bass was really deep there was a little ‘muddiness’ and buzzing in the room.
Overall, I found the sound to be simply amazing from a system so small – I can pick on some of the little things that were missing from the music – but I do believe that only the most discriminating audiophile would want more from a portable speaker system (and probably won’t find any that sounds better.)
One thing I would love to see on a high quality portable system is integrated tone controls. Let me adjust the Bass and Treble – or even give me EQ settings rather than have to use those in the iPod itself. I would have also wished that the iGroove could be operated by batteries like many other portable systems. I have noted before the thoughtful design of the Altec Lansing IM9 which has a travel back pack, battery usage and a carry handle.
The iGroove is clearly not intended for true portability – there is no handle, no case and you need to be near a plug.
Compared to other systems:
The iGroove HG has received many favorable recommendations from web sites and audiophiles alike. From my side by side tests, it produces more life-like and pleasing music than just about any iPod speaker solution I have tested or heard. The closest competition is the Altec Lansing IM7 which I reviewed here last year. In side by side tests – the IM7 produced much better bass and slightly better stereo separation. The iGroove HG produced a cleaner, more ‘natural’ sound – albeit lacking in deep bass.
Sound Quality is a very, very subjective thing. That being said, you cannot go wrong with the iGroove HG as a small room, dorm room or office speaker system for your iPod or other MP3 player. The classic Klipsch sound – the horn tweeter dispersion and clarity – are preserved in this affordable, small and stylish design.
Final Grade: A-
Pros: Amazing sound, clear, great design, beautiful
Cons: No tone control, no handle, limited to AC outlet availability
The iGroove HG sells for $249.00 but is on sale at www.klipsch.com for $199.00.
Written by Gary