So how do they sound? Basically, excellent, at least for their size. Certainly there’s no way you’re going to get the bass response or the sheer volume of a larger set, but for the portable, ‘music in a hotel room’ market that these are aiming for it’s powerful enough.
My first impressions were that the soundstage was quite narrow, which is hardly surprising when you consider that the speakers are on either side of the iPod. Once you’ve got past this you’ll appreciate the fact that everything is there. The highs, mids and the lows are all present - particularly the lows. One of the test tracks was Spearhead, and the growly drawl of Michael Frante was perfectly intact.
All of this was in marked contrast to the Altec Lansing iM3s. Moving to this I was initially impressed by wider soundstage and the generally airiness. However, this soon was apparent that this was more a disconnectedness between the various instruments. The upper range and the vocals were very clear but there was no mid-range to speak of and the bass was poor. Switching back to the iRhythms was like getting the music back again. As I said before, musically it’s all there, just smaller then the larger set. We kept listening to a number of tracks of different styles of high bit-rate MP3, AAC and Apple Lossless encoded music and the characteristics remained constant.
On quality terms it’s a clear hands down win to the iRhythms. It lacks the remote control of the Altec Lansings, which is a shame but you can forgive it this at the price. The RRP is £45 so you can expect five pounds of so off this once it hits retail in mid November.
Next time I’m heading off on my travels, this is the set that I’m going to make sure is packed in my case.
The Acoustic Authority iRhythms CA614 sound as good as you could expect for a set of this size. It’s very portable and the only missing feature is a remote control, though the price goes a long way to making up for this.