Review: XtremeMac Tango

Classy look and excellent sound system for the price. (April 30th, 2007)

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Product Manufacturer: XtremeMac

Price: $199.95 US

The Good

  • Gorgeous design. Clear sound quality with a good dose of bass. Good price for sound quality. Ships with five international plug adapters. Includes S-video and 3.5mm audio/video line out jacks.

The Bad

  • Best sound at loud volumes. Remote missing some controls. Remote has trouble if objects block line of sight.

It's been a while since we've reviewed an iPod speaker system so I thought I would let you know about a great product from XtremeMac. As iPod accessory specialists, XtremeMac produces innovative cases, speakers, chargers, and adapters for the entire iPod line and more recently, the Apple TV.

I tested the XtremeMac Tango 2.1 speaker system in conjunction with my 5G 30GB iPod. The styling of the Tango reminds me of a downsized version of the iPod Hi-Fi. With an all white top that curves over the top of the unit and a black front and back, this system definitely ticks all the boxes for my sexy design checklist.

Packaging

It is very clear that the same paradigm for product design is applied to the packaging as to the product, with a well designed box and a fresh user experience to unpacking the contents in a similar way to the un-boxing of many Apple products. You're probably thinking, "Why the heck are you bothering to write about the un-boxing of a product?!" Apple is famous for using non-generic packaging for its products because they want you to have a great experience when you first remove a product from its box and put it all together, as well as when you use the product. It's all about the user experience and Apple is very successful at doing this, so XtremeMac has taken that ideology and applied it to their products. So, kudos to them!

Inside the package you find dock adapters for the 30GB, 60GB, 80GB, and iPod nano. Although the Tango works with all iPods with the iPod dock connector, the 4G models and older do not charge in the dock. You also get travel adapters, not that you're likely to be taking this with you anytime soon, it is handy and thoughtful of XtremeMac to include these.

Design

The seductive curves and iPod-white enamel casing is beautiful. With such a minimalist design there's not much that mars the surface of the glossy white exterior, in fact the only buttons are the power button and volume controls. Directly above is the iPod dock and that's it.

It's the same story with the front of the unit, a black speaker grille covers the entire width of the unit until it reaches the curved white exterior. Underneath that speaker grille, right in the centr is the LED status light that glows red when the unit is in standby mode, blue when it's on, and flashes blue whenever you press a button on the remote.

Once you hit the top level for any of the audio controls, like bass, then it flashes red, likewise when you've reached the lowest setting. The LED finish is a nice touch to the stunning look of the speakers. Turn the unit around and you find the expected jacks such as, a Line In jack and the power adapter, but the Tango doesn't just stick with the standard. XtremeMac also includes an S-Video and 3.5 mm A/V out jack. So not only does the Tango operate as a standalone speaker unit, you can hook this up to your TV and play your movies through it, with a video iPod, of course. The white and black remote control has a soft touch to the buttons. It's not an iPod-remote small, but its no brick either, fitting comfortably in any trouser or shirt pocket.

Features

The XtremeMac Tango is a 2.1 speaker system, but not content with just two speakers and a subwoofer, the design team has included an extra two mid-range drivers to reproduce a full, clear, and crisp sound. This sound system can throw out 120 Watts of pure joy with its two 2.5-inch mid-range speakers, two 1-inch tweeters and a 4-inch subwoofer. The four speakers face front and the fifth speaker, the subwoofer, fires downward right on to the surface where the Tango is placed. Rubberized feet help absorb the shock and vibrations from the subwoofer and averts damage to your precious speakers.

The subwoofer is sealed in its own acoustic chamber with a bass reflex port. Using a sealed acoustic chamber for the subwoofer is important for stopping interference and audio leaking in to the rest of the speaker cabinet. Without the sealed acoustic chamber, you would end up with music made up of just bass because the low frequency drowns out everything else. A bass reflex port is used to complement the subwoofer by extending the low frequencies of your tunes. This gives you a naturally deeper bass without distortion. A perfect combination for some thumping loud tunes that will make the neighbors envious or angry.

The Infra-red remote control offers you the functions you use most often. There's buttons for the usual power, play, pause, and skip, plus there's a bass and treble control. A reset button puts bass and treble back to its default settings. There are a few controls that I would liked to have included though. The remote is missing the ability to skip to the next album or playlist and Shuffle and Repeat buttons. While I understand that the designers wanted a minimalist design, I think the lack these controls is a mistake. I also had to have a direct line of sight to use the remote.

Performance

Looks can be deceiving, but the innocent look is nothing to go by because the sound is second to none. The Tango can really do some hearing damage with its massive 120 watts of pure audio enjoyment. They have the ability to produce deep and powerful bass and a crystal clear mid-range. It's so fantastic that even rubbish tunes sound good on these speakers.

A downward facing subwoofer, can result in sound quality issues, especially when the sound is hitting the surface at a close distance. This can result in the bass sounding flat and also transfer vibrations to the surface that it's sitting on, but not with the Tango. Part of the beautiful design is that the speakers are suspended in mid air away from the table and the gap that forms when you place these speakers on a table surface is enough for the sound to actually travel without affecting the audio quality. As for the vibrations, the rubber feet will take care of that, stopping it dead in its tracks.

I've played an assortment of audio tracks on the Tango from Fratellis, The Fray, Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, and even Johnny Cash, and they all sound as they should; with a full and rich audio experience. For the bass-addicts out there, of which I'm one, the Tango is a match made in heaven. Pump the bass up on the remote and you'll be crying by the end of the first Floorfillers album.

Evaluation

XtremeMac has really hit the mark with the Tango. Their flagship speaker system has good sound quality at a fraction of the cost of some of the more expensive systems. In fact, I think this is probably the best sounding iPod speaker system at this price point. Previously, I thought the iPod Hi-Fi was the top of the line, but if you consider the pricing, there's no contest. The iPod Hi-Fi retails at $349.00, while the Tango is only $199.95 and it can be found discounted online for between $112.00 - $130.00.

With massive audio performance and powerful bass technology built right in to the unit, the Tango isn't designed for quiet listening, it's a speaker system for blasting your tunes and ideal for any party. There's not a lot I can fault this unit on, it really is a superb system with a premium design that will make any iPod welcome to its dock.

by Onwah Tsang


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