Flat folding portable sound system for your iPod (May 4th, 2006)
Product Manufacturer: SpectraVideo plc
Price: $99.95 US
- Best sound in its class. Cool blue lights. Excellent price.
- Subwoofer does not sound like a true sub. More cords and parts to carry than necessary.
To truly understand why the Logic3 i-Station by SpectraVideo is a worthwhile product, it is necessary to look at the entire field of portable speaker systems. The i-Station doesn't sound nearly as good as Logitech's mm50, which is just about as portable, though $50 more expensive. It sounds as good or better than JBL's On Stage and Altec Lansing's inMotion IM3, but the On Stage doesn't allow for batteries. So, if you are in the market for a sub-$100, portable, and battery-powered speaker system for your iPod, the i-Station is perfect for you.
A Closer LookIt is a well-designed system. Like the iM3, the i-Station folds open to reveal a dock for the iPod. It has a fold-down subwoofer, and this small rear speaker adds some extra oomph to the sound quality. The question is, can you really call it a subwoofer if it only produces 6 watts of sound? For that matter, it doesn't produce the sub-audible kick-to-the-head feeling a true subwoofer gives you. Let's just be honest and call it a dedicated woofer.
Sound TestTo test the quality of the sound, I tried a few chopped and screwed remixes from Paul Wall and Mike Jones. The remix style, developed by the late DJ Screw, slows down songs to emphasize the bass kicks. Vocally, the lowered voice tones came through very clearly. The bass, however, was disappointingly flat and somewhat clicky, sounding more like rapping knuckles on a table than a heavy woofer thump.
Pressing the enigmatic 3D surround sound button widened the sound field to a satisfactory separation of right and left, which made me wonder why this feature wasn't continuously engaged. In testing a wide variety of songs, I could hardly find any that weren't improved by the 3D feature. Only songs that had moments of monaural mixing, or songs that suppressed reverb for a tinny effect were not enhanced, and perhaps they shouldn't be.
ConnectionsConnecting the i-Station to your computer is easy thanks to the FireWire and USB ports and included cables, both of which are mini-jack on the i-Station's end and normal on the other. I would have preferred a simple dock-connector port instead of having to carry around another cable. There is a 3.5mm audio line input for devices other than an iPod, as well.
Flat and PortableAesthetically, the i-Station is just a small cut above the iM3. It lies about as flat when closed, but has a plastic shield that covers the speaker cones. This shield slides on and off the top and covers about the top half of the device. This seems to be an unnecessary addition, unless the speaker's are so flimsy that Logic3 doesn't want you to carry the i-station around without it. Otherwise, it only adds another piece to account for and eventually lose.
In conclusion, I'm not a huge fan of any of these small speaker systems, but this is the best I've seen if you need its specific feature set. You can find better sound elsewhere, but not in an all-in-one device at this price. (Editor's Note: I also tested this system, and found the plastic shield a welcome addition when carrying the iStation. The sound I found lacking though. I thought the subwoofer distorted cymbal and snare drum sounds.)
- 12 Watts RMS - 120 Watts PMPO
- 6 Watts RMS Subwoofer - 2.5" Woofer 4ohm
- 6 Watts RMS (3w + 3w) Satellite Speakers - 30mm full range speaker 4ohm with neodymium aluminium speaker cones
- Operates from AC Adaptor (included) or 4xAA Batteries (not included)
- 100-240V Power Supply and USA UL plug provided.
- Dimensions: 137 x 195 x 40mm (H x W x D)
- Weight: 400g
- Internal 3D surround sound processor
Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor