The first thing we noticed when we powered up the iM7s was a clean accurate sound. The sound stage seemed to be focussed about a foot in front of the centre of the unit and when sat in the right place it sounded very rewarding. In Mobyâ€™s â€˜Why Does My Heart Feel So Badâ€™ the sample that sits underneath the vocal at the start could be heard more cleanly and distinctly than on any other player. Pushing up the volume the sub woofers quickly make their presence felt and itâ€™s no surprise to learn that half of the unitâ€™s rates 50 Watts of RMS is supplied by the side facing sub woofers. You can quite easily feel the air being pushed out from the side when you put your hand close.
The problem is that the bass sounds disconnected from the upper end and the mid-range is notable by its near absence. It sounds as if Altec Lansing has attached a set of regular PC stereo speakers and attached the sub-woofers to hide their shortcomings. One of the team rather dismissively described the sound from the iM7s as â€˜radio with extra bassâ€™. Things got worse, when we pushed up the volume on bass heavy tracks with distortion began to creep in.
At lower sound volume levels the iM7â€™s have a more accurate and brighter sound than the Appleâ€™s but they only really seemed comfortable at mid-volume levels.
I was able to find the Altec Lansingâ€™s online for Â£177, which is a good Â£50 less than the Apple set but hearing both side by side it would be hard to justify going for the iM7â€™s over the Apple.