For our conclusion weâ€™ll place the four sets weâ€™ve reviewed in order of preference.
In last place is the Bose. Not because of its sound quality, which is good, but because of its price. Itâ€™s actually the most expensive set on test, but for twice the price of the iRhythms itâ€™s reasonable to expect it to be a lot better. In fact, itâ€™s arguably slightly worse. You can even get the Apple set for less and in reality, theyâ€™re a league apart.
The Altec Lansing iM7s are the next in line. These were probably the biggest disappointment. The design is eye catching and on initial listening we were impressed by the power and clarity of the sound. However, itâ€™s doesnâ€™t gel in the same way the Appleâ€™s do, and even though theyâ€™re cheaper weâ€™d still take the Apples.
The Appleâ€™s then are our second favourite of the four. Admittedly we arenâ€™t enamoured with the way it looks and we think that the iPod on top is asking for trouble. Early reports suggested that the Apple Hi-Fi speakers were actually very poor sounding but when we actually sat and listened we were generally impressed, though not without reservation. For a start if youâ€™re into rock, then you probably wonâ€™t be happy with the sound. For sheer power and bass though the Appleâ€™s deliver, but it can also sound muffled and the soundstage restricted. However, if you want something thatâ€™s portable and can still kick it, then the Appleâ€™s are your best bet.
Whatâ€™s disturbs us though is the name. The Apple speakers are not Hi-Fi, and if Steve Jobs has swapped his main set-up for these then he needs to go find a new Hi-Fi specialist retailer as he was clearly sold a doosy the first time.
The winner then, and the only one that earns an award is the Acoustic Authority iRhythms. This small unassuming set will startle you with the volume level it can achieve and get the balance of bass, mid-and upper end just right. The same goes for the price. At Â£125 itâ€™s eminently affordable and for a small room, kitchen or bedroom itâ€™s the way to go.