- Review Price: £69.99
TwinMos is a name that’s familiar to me, but for its range of memory products, so I must admit I was slightly surprised to find this Boom System for iPod waiting to be reviewed in the office. Performance memory – iPod speakers: “no link” as Eddie Izzard would say. However, reading the press release that accompanies them, I found something that explained it as clearly as I could have hoped. “We are living in an iPod world and so any associating products are guaranteed to sell well”. says Ingrid Chen, TwinMOS Territory Manager. In other words, “we’re just jumping on the iPod bandwagon”. How refreshingly honest.
Also wonderful is the Ingrish from some of the flash based advertising, my favourite quote being, “Boombox always helps you relax your stress.” We’ll find out if it does.
The BoomBox comes in two parts, the main speakers, which contain the iPod dock and a subwoofer, so despite the relatively small and worryingly lightweight speaker section this isn’t a portable unit. You can use the speakers with the sub, but as I’ll cover later, you wouldn’t want to.
The look of the speakers is somewhat on the quirky side. The have a white iPod like finish, even though Apple itself seems to have completely moved away from this colour in everything save the mac mini. The speakers are spread out like the wings of a bird, and taper upwards at the corners. It also looks a little like a symmetrical boomerang, and as it weighs only 2Kg, I did have the urge to pick it up and throw it across the room. But that’s just me.
You can see into the grille at the front to see that there’s one driver, for the mid-range and a tweeter for the high-end frequencies and together the output is rated at 8W RMS per channel, which isn’t huge. Two rather dated looking touch sensitive buttons for the volume are located on the front beneath the iPod dock, which supports all iPods with a dock connector, which is third gen onwards. Behind this dock is a USB port – this is for plugging the first generation shuffle directly into the dock.
The words TwinMos Boomsystem are written underneath these, but what really spoils the look is the dark plastic area behind which is housed the infrared receiver for the remote control. It just looks a bit naff. Possibly even naffer are the three small blue lights that shine up from the iPod dock – a bit Max Power. It will at least charge your iPod when it’s placed inside the dock.
Round the back you’ll find an on/off switch button for the speakers, the power input, a 3.5mm jack for connecting any other audio device and also a composite video out port. This enables you to hook up your video enabled iPod and view the contents. I wouldn’t recommend it though. What looked OK on my iPod looked rather ropey on my TV, though I suppose it would be OK to show off pictures. There’s also a phono connection for the sub, which makes it nice and easy to hook it up.
The sub looks like a robots helmet, which I thought was rather cool. While the speakers are only 2Kg, the sub is made of plastic and weighs only 650g, so it’s not the most substantial thing in the world. There’s a downwards facing driver accompanied by a single port.
The remote is a regular small oblong affair, powered by a cell battery with a silver colouring round the buttons though I would have expected it to be white to match the rest. There’s a red power button, which stands out, and next to this a Bluetooth button. Apparently, there’s a version of this set that let’s you stream music wirelessly to it, but this isn’t it. The remote lets you change the volume of the speakers and has a separate control for the volume of the sub. It also sports Play/Pause, Mute, Skip, and lets you directly activate Random and Repeat on the iPod, which is quite good.
That’s all there is to setting up the BoomBox system, but the proof is in the hearing. How does it all come together? Well actually not that well to be frank, but let’s start with the positives.
The first thing that’s clear is that there’s a reasonably decent volume level. There’s also an impressive sound stage, the physical width of the speakers giving a wider stereo spectrum than most portable iPod sets. What else is good is that that the sub has a serious kick to it, really making its presence felt, and you can adjust its level of influence with the remote. With the speakers handling the higher frequencies and the sub looking after the lower register, a lot of music tracks had a real sense of space, giving the music room to breathe. I could follow the bass line and pick put vocals and instrumentation in the mix.
On the down side, it’s soon evident that there’s just too much room in the sound – with the mid-range lacking in presence and definition. Turning the sub right down reveals why this is so. The drivers and tweeters in the speakers are far too harsh and rough and have absolutely no bass, meaning that the sub is being asked to do far too much. Rather than just filling in the low end, it’s acting as the mid-range too, which it just patently isn’t good enough to do. While the sub isn’t awful it’s not getting any help from the speakers.
Listening to the speaker set in the office proved to be tiring, with the tweeters speakers sounding harsh and rough and slightly unpleasant. In a smaller room though it did sound more rounded and not too bad. However, turning it up, the sound got woolier, and lost the sense of space I mentioned earlier.
Overall, it’s an OK audio experience but certainly not great. On the audio side I’d recommend spending a bit more and going for this set of Acoustic Authority iRhythms A-211 speakers. They didn’t get an outstanding review at the time, but that was based on the price of £199 – now Scan are doing them for just over £100 so it’s a better deal. You won’t get the benefit of the video out though, so if that’s important to you then these speakers are worth considering.
A slightly odd looking set of speakers from an unlikely source. They do a reasonable job and the video out feature for a compatible iPod could prove useful but on the audio side there are better choices out there.
Score in detail