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iPod Hi-Fi speaker system unveiled

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2006
News Categories: iPod Accessories

imageApple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPod Hi-Fi during today’s special event at Apple’s Cuperinto headquarters. [Live coverage] The high-end speaker system delivers “breathtaking acoustic performance and room-filling sound unlike any other speaker system designed for the iPod in an innovative, all-in-one design.”

The iPod Hi-Fi, which can be powered from a wall socket or by six D-cell batteries, features an integrated iPod dock and is controlled by the 6-button Apple Remote. It’s available starting today for $349.

Compatible with all dock connector iPods, the Hi-Fi charges your iPod while docked and offers Tone Control, Large Album Art mode and volume mirroring on fifth-generation iPods and iPod nanos. The device also features molded handles, a removable front grille, touch-sensitive volume control buttons, a built-in power supply (no external power brick), and a 3.5-mm auxiliary input. The Hi-Fi measures 17.0” x 6.6” x 6.9.”

“iPod Hi-Fi has been designed and engineered by Apple to deliver unrivaled sound quality, realistic sound imaging and optimal audio performance,” the company says. “Its clean, all-in-one design features a unique isolated enclosure system that includes two custom designed wide-range speakers and a tuned, ported bass system, minimizing vibration while maximizing sound quality and allowing users to listen to their favorite music as it was intended with amazing sound clarity and rich, deep bass.”

Apple also today introduced new Intel-based Mac mini computers. Available in a 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo processor configuration and a 1.5 GHz Intel Core Solo processor configuration, the new systems feature Apple’s Front Row media software and a new music, video and photo sharing feature that uses the company’s Bonjour wireless networking technology. The new Mac minis start at $599.

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Comments

81

Everyone makes mistakes. Including Apple.

Posted by Deep3lue in Singapore on February 28, 2006 at 9:24 PM (PDT)

82

These comments are ridiculous.  Sounds like 2001 all over again when the iPod first came out. People were bitchin then about how expensive and non-innovative the iPod was. The Hi-Fi is exactly like the iPod and the Mac in the fact it’s intuitive.  You plug in the iPod and you hear music.  There’s no Speaker A/B, Source 1 or 2, and no banana clips to deal with. It was design for the rest of us not pseudo-audiophiles on these boards. So go ahead people and get back to tricking yourself in believing that you can tell the difference between bitrates. Oh and speaking of design - who would ever trust geeks on these boards to know about design.  Sheesh I can just imagine what your wardrobe consist of.

Posted by lipsy on February 28, 2006 at 9:44 PM (PDT)

83

Here’s the thing, lipsy: the Hi-Fi is aimed at audiophiles. 

For the non-audiophile, there are a hundred speaker systems to hook an iPod too.  My iMMini was aimed at “the rest of us” for $120 or whatever it cost.  By pricing this thing at $350 (and offering no new features over existing products), Apple is either banking that people will pay a VAST premium for the Apple name, or that audiophiles will pay extra for a superior sound (if indeed it has superior sound).  So, I think those of us who posted $$$ audiophile alternatives are right on the money.

Posted by Chris on February 28, 2006 at 10:00 PM (PDT)

84

Oh, and Apple, want to know how to make it worth $350?  Add an XM tuner, and allow us to record XM to the iPod. 

Yeah, I know it would make the RIAA #### itself, wouldn’t it be great??

Posted by Chris on February 28, 2006 at 10:20 PM (PDT)

85

Marketing, my friends. Marketing. They are not aiming for audiophiles - they are aiming for people who fancy themselves as audiophiles. It’s just one more product for the ‘iPod culture’ monster that Apple has created. I have no doubt it will sell well. I will not be buying.

Posted by ptzink on February 28, 2006 at 10:23 PM (PDT)

86

Define audiophile.
It’s just a marketing ploy.
A prestige term that people like to throw around to make themselves sound like an expert.  And you also hear it in conjucntion with how much people spend on audio equipment.  So if I spend thousands on audio equipment does that make me an audiophile or just rich?
Apple like any other company will hype their products to appeal to an audience.  Just like car makers and clothe makers.  But within these industries certain makers rise above the rest because of their attention to detail and simplicity of their design.
I believe that Apple has always adhere to these principles.  Isn’t that why we are on this board.
The Hi-Fi is a great product for what it is - overpriced a little but that’s the nature of the beast.
So go ahead and buy that thousand dollar stereo system because you know you made the right choice because it did just cost you a THOUSAND dollars right?

Posted by lipsy on February 28, 2006 at 10:24 PM (PDT)

87

ptzink: No, they really are targetting audiophiles.  First of all non of us on here have actually heard this thing right??  $350 for something that sounds better than any other stereo of it’s size is astounding!  Especially since it includes a dock which retails for what, $50?  Idiots who want FM radio, touchscreen LCD, and other functions are just asking for the price to be even higher!  Also most people these days don’t walk around with a ghetto blaster on their shoulders, so handle placement/‘fragile’ dock connection is a non-issue.  Simply un-dock the iPod put it in your pocket and carry it with the sturdy handles.

If the sound seperation is as good as they are saying, and considering it is a pure digital between iPod , Mac, or through Airtunes using an optical cable (and your music is encoded in lossless) it is well worth the money for a ‘portable’ hi fidelity sytem.  I think the target audience Apple was aiming for was audiophiles who already have a HiFi surround system and want a secondary system that can be moved from room to room, used outside on the deck, or even brought along on road trips.

So all the idiots bashing something you’ve never even heard yet, or comparing it to something else (YOU may or may not have heard) is ridiculous.  A $350 ‘HiFi’ system may just sound a whole heck of a lot better than most $1000+ surround systems….....as long as you’re not hosting a rave party.  iPod HiFi is for pristine audio quality in moderate size rooms at a moderate volume.  End of story!

Apple designed the iPod HiFi to sound the best it could while still maintaining it’s ‘portability’ factor.  I think it’s a winning design for sound quality, it’s not about the looks(although I think it’s beautiful-especially minus the grill!)  I’m gonna grab one after I test it to see if it really is ‘HiFi” and I imagine it is that good because apparently you can hear artifacts in iTunes downloads.  I hope SJ will change iTunes downloads to a higher bitrate, or have the option of a lossless download! Can’t wait till I get one of these white bricks!!!! smile

Posted by Vets on March 1, 2006 at 1:52 AM (PDT)

88

Things that would make the iPod HiFi perfect:
-detachable midrange speakers with separate tweeters!
-video out & RCA in
-li-ion rechargable & removable battery
-built in WiFi for streaming & iPod syncing
-better/more secure docking method w. Shuffle compatibilty
-‘one hand’ handle
-magnet to hold the Apple remote
-dare I say FM radio and/or satelite radio(so I can wake up to my local morning radio show!)
-for future: a splash pad on top for wireless charging of all iPods!!!!

I bet we’ll see an iPod HiFi Deluxe…...or maybe a HiFi 2 in the next year or two with some or all of these features….here’s to hoping! smile  and not to dissing!

Posted by Vets on March 1, 2006 at 2:13 AM (PDT)

89

So if I spend thousands on audio equipment does that make me an audiophile or just rich?

Depends on the motivation, as your post alludes to.

That the typical audio gear that a hardcore audio hobbyist (or audiophile, if you must) tend to migrate to is typically pricey is all too true, but that’s only because that sort of equipment often reflects an as-built attitude of fewer compromises and corners cut as found with most ‘affordable’ gear. The audiophile does appreciate low-priced equipment as well, as long as their threshold for acceptably great sonic performance isn’t compromised by the use of that gear.

With smaller “hi-end” manufacturers that are so popular with the audio hobbyist, it’s as much about audio ‘craftmanship’ and ‘artistry’ as it is about straight manufacturing and engineering. A bit like the difference between a Aston-Martin DB9 and a Pontiac Solstice. These specialist makers don’t reinvent or redress their products each year. People who build this sort of equipment usally are as passionate about achieving ‘the sound’ as their fanatical consumer. They fuss over every detail and, finances willing, use the absolute best components afforded to them. Stuff like this tends to have annual production numbers in the 3 to the low 5 figures, unlike more common “cheap” gear where annual sales number into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, as in the case of iPods.

Low production numbers generally means high prices; that’s the reality of the economics for you. If the buyer genuinely appreciates and discerns the sonic refinement and nuances of said equipment for the sake of the sonic quality itself…well, I’d say that person qualifies as a real audiophile. All others…posers.

Posted by flatline response on March 1, 2006 at 4:26 AM (PDT)

90

I can’t knock the Hi-Fi. I bet it sounds great but I doubt it sounds much better than my Monitor Audio iDeck. I have more speaker separation but there are some interesting things to be done with electronic circuits and design. I was hoping for some interesting functionality. The thing I really wanted was an 80GB iPod. I think it looks okay. It looks like a serious speaker, like it is really about the sound. I am going to go and listen to one. I may find a place for one.

Posted by Rey on March 1, 2006 at 4:57 AM (PDT)

91

Audiophile???  Pfft!  Gimme my iPod gapless playback, dammit!!

Posted by audiophile on March 1, 2006 at 6:04 AM (PDT)

92

If I was in the market for this kind of product (which I’m not, and I certainly wouldn’t entertain the thought of replacing my high-end home stereo/speakers for this POS), I would spend the $350 on the i-deck speaker system (Google i-deck, I can’t post the link).

Apple could have done sooooooooooo much better, but they are banking on the fact that the fanboys will buy it simply because it’s sold by Apple.  This arrogance is starting to catch up with them; case in point: the AAPL stock plunge yesterday AFTER the product announcement.  Investors, like myself, are no longer impressed and didn’t see anything “new” or “fun” from yesterday’s announcement.

Posted by redsoxnation on March 1, 2006 at 7:09 AM (PDT)

93

If you’re an investor in Apple who sold after yesterday’s announcement, here’s another newsflash: you’re an idiot.

If a company tells you they’ve got some fun new stuff and releases…some fun new stuff, this shouldn’t encourage you to sell.

But please do.  I’m going to buy more once the price gets low enough—that Mac Mini fulfills a really important role in a mostly elegant way.  That’s your Airport Express for video, plus a nice sized hard disk for maintaining your audio-video jukebox.  Makes me consider getting one of those LCD TVs.

Posted by dasmegabyte on March 1, 2006 at 8:44 AM (PDT)

94

I think it should have AM radio too, as well as FM.  Everyone’s always asking for FM, but they keep forgetting about AM.

Posted by anony on March 1, 2006 at 9:26 AM (PDT)

95

as an investor, if I don’t see growth opportunities, then why put my $$ in a company who isn’t going where the growth is?

The only “newsflash” here is that Apple did not release anything “new” or “fun” yesterday.  Period.  And where did I indicate that I sold my stock after the announcement yesterday? 

Bulls make $$, bears make $$, hogs get slaughtered.  There’s another “newsflash” for you.  Once a fanboy, always a fanboy. Another “newsflash”.

Posted by redsoxnation on March 1, 2006 at 9:50 AM (PDT)

96

The trend in consumer electronics for the last 20 years has been towards convenience over quality; compressed audio files sound worse than CDs and flat screen TVs look worse than cathode ray tubes. The market in hi-fi separates has almost disappeared and now apparently mini hi-fis are on the way out so however ugly and over-priced the Apple boombox is I bet it hits some marketing sweet spot somewhere.

Posted by Andrew on March 1, 2006 at 10:42 AM (PDT)

97

Still Disappointed.  I just returned from my nearest iPod store.  They do not have it in stock.  No reference is made to the new speaker system at the store at all…no pictures, signs, brochures…no model to listen to and drewel over.  What’s up with that ?

For what it’s worth - for those interested in this new Apple speaker, I suggest you compare it with the Altec Lansing IM7 before buying.  I was hoping to compare the two while at the store today.  I did listen again to the Bose and Klipsch models, and still am more impressed with the IM7.

Good listening !

Posted by Dave Wagner on March 1, 2006 at 11:18 AM (PDT)

98

Dave Wagner - At least from what I’ve seen Apple announces the products mid-week, makes them available online at the time of the announcement, and gets them into stores by the weekend.

Also I compared speaker systems and honestly I thought that the iHome was just as good (perhaps slightly worse but mostly a negligible difference) as the IM7.

Posted by JoshSpazJosh on March 1, 2006 at 1:42 PM (PDT)

99

Thanks Josh !  I don’t recall seeing the iHome at the Apple store, or anywhere for that matter.  But in any event, it is good to know there is competition in the marketplace. 

I envision the ipod speaker market to continue evolving and cause more hi-fi systems to be developed.  After all, people are spending serious money on their iPods, not to mention the computer on which they are storing and managing their music libraries.  It makes sense to me that the same people would want good quality sound as a result of their investments, and not having the music sound like a radio sitting on the end table. The folks at Apple are continuing to focus on small and portable, whereas there is also a large potential market of people who just want good systems to use at home.  It will be interesting to see what the industry comes up with over the next 3 to 5 years.

Enjoy the music !  Dave

Posted by Dave Wagner on March 1, 2006 at 5:30 PM (PDT)

100

Some people reckon this is cool because it has an optical in. Big deal. So you can plug in an airport express, it still has to be connected near a plug from the airport… Maybe I would have bought it if it had an airport express built in… Then I could stream music wirelessly from my laptop to outside with no strings, but then thats just be dreaming.

Posted by ajm on March 1, 2006 at 5:33 PM (PDT)

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