- Review Price: £44.99
Another day, another set of iPod speakers. With the range of products surrounding Apple’s ubiquitous player, a ‘Made for Ipod’ product has to be something special to gain any attention these days. Fortunately, this set of mini travel speakers from iRythms rises to the challenge.
Acoustic Authority isn’t a widely known brand and in fact is another name for Cyber Acoustics. Its iPod focussed iRhythms brand has already found success in the TR labs with its excellent original speaker dock. However, this other set with a separate iPod dock was outperformed by our current favourite set of affordable speakers, the Acoustic Energy Aego M speakers. How would this latest set measure up?
These speakers are essentially much smaller versions of the previous speaker dock aimed at the traveller. They’re smaller, lighter and therefore more easily portable. Naturally, the reduced size of the drivers means that the power output is far lower and the rating is only 6W RMS, compared to 20W for the larger version. For direct comparison we put them up against a set of Altec Lansing iM3s that we happened to have in the office. The Altec Lansing’s are a similar size and fold up nicely making them very portable. They also feature a remote control, something that the iRhythms lack.
The iRhythms are small and surprisingly light. Unlike the iM3s it’s a one-piece unit. Inevitably, it’s made of plastic but this set feels decently put together. The iPod dock bulges out at the rear and the base is far wider, so it tapers towards the top. There are three buttons at the top edge, plus and minus for the volume and a power switch in the centre. Underneath are six pads so it sits firmly on a desk or other surface.
Also at the rear towards the top there’s a recess which enables you to easily pick up the speakers, which is a thoughtful touch. The dock fitted my 60GB 5th gen player without issue, but there actually seven different docks also supplied in the box to ensure a snug fit for every iPod with a dock.
At the rear you’ll find an input for the power supply, an on/off power switch and an auxiliary input for connecting non iPod devices, other the iPod shuffle, which won’t connect via the docks. A small flap hides a compartment for four AA batteries giving it more freedom. This would make a nice set to take on a picnic.
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.
Score in detail
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.