"But there's no getting around the facts that the iPod is a stereo device, and that by mixing its two channels of audio together, the iPAL's clean single speaker takes as much away from music as other portable accessories do by using two or four muddier speakers"

would not that same logic dictate that we must all listen to music in our homes through a 32 channel soundboard?

i, personally, feel the 2 channel mixdown would be insignificant to the average user.


Posted by peter fillion on June 12, 2004 at 1:06 PM (PDT) Comment 21

I purchased my PAL more than a year before I purchased my ipod, and have found the two to be a near perfect match. I disagree with the original review on two points; stereo separation, and comparing it to the creatures in terms of portability.

First, as has been said before, I chose the PAL over other portable choices because despite being mono rather than stereo, it provides much fuller and accurate sound than anything else in its pricerange, with a fantastic tuner to boot. For me, it is more a replacement for a small "boombox" than an ultra-portable device. I have yet to hear stereo sound from a portable device that compares to the mono sound of the PAL. Nevermind the fact that useful stereo imaging requires ideal placement of the speakers relative to the listener, not usually realistic nor a priority in a portable device. If I want great stereo sound on the go, that's what great headphones are for.
As for portability, comparing it to the creatures is just ludicrous. The creatures are intended to be installed in one place, with a/c power nearby. Yes, you can move them, but I can nearly as easily move my amplifier and full size speakers around. With the PAL, you have an all in one unit with excellent battery life that moves easily from the kitchen, to the bathroom, out to the shop, out to the deck or pool. Try doing that with the creatures.

Posted by zhenya on June 13, 2004 at 6:18 AM (PDT) Comment 22

I think people are missing the most imporant aspect of the iPAL (which is actually native to most Tivoli products) which is the amazing radio tuning capabilities.
The PAL can pick up almost any radio station because it has a special chip that eliminates the "fuzz" sound between stations. Not only is this convenient, it also makes it very easy to distinguish among close and weak stations, and to hear each with relatively good clarity.
While I don't think anyone could claim to put this in the same category as the inMotion speakers in terms of portability, neither can the sound quality be compared. For those of us who carry backpacks or other large bags when going to the park, beach, etc., this makes an excellent product for listening to music, whether from the iPod or just the radio.
I highly recommend it for anyone who prefers functionality and sound quality to an aesthetically-pleasing form.

Posted by chris on June 13, 2004 at 9:37 AM (PDT) Comment 23

I am astonished by the quality of sound that my Tivoli PAL provides as a radio or atached to my ipod. None of the other portables (I have tried many) come even close.

Posted by jagged on June 13, 2004 at 9:16 PM (PDT) Comment 24

I don't know if anyone mentioned it, but the pal's geared-down tuning knob is a real pleasure to use. Very smooth. I have a brown pal (wish they had one in tan with brown knobs though, like my model one), about a year and a half. I take it with me in my briefcase every day. It's been on windy beaches numerous times, and poolside a lot. The battery pack is probably due for replacement...charge only lasts a couple hours now. I think it is a fitting legacy to the model 8, 21, 400 etc...BTW has anyone seen the model two knockoff being sold at Target for $49? I think it is an Emerson. Did Tivoli license that? It's black and silver, no rubber feet, lighted dial, knobs feel awful...didn't get to hear it tho...

Posted by langdonauger on June 14, 2004 at 5:29 AM (PDT) Comment 25

this is the most troll-filled thread of all time!

audiogeek is the pot calling kettle black with this "I just don't try to make myself look smarter by posting on forums about them, especially when the real-world truth is quite simple to explain." stuff...

after reading all this crosstrolling, there are only two conclusions someone can draw, one, the ipal is only portable for people who rarely leave their homes (and spend all their time arguing with strangers over sound quality), two, you people need to learn how to read + shop... you are so obsesed with arguing that you don't even get it.

those creature speakers are totally cool stereo speakers to use at home... altec speakers are totally cool to use anywhere else you go... wtf would anyone want an ipal instead of something cheaper that has stereo + sounds better? considering no one here ever takes ipal out of his home except 1 guy who goes to the beach with it... it is nice but just too big for PORTABLE... you pal owners are a crazy bunch of people... definitely not too bright

Posted by 8chilleez on June 14, 2004 at 1:16 PM (PDT) Comment 26

Boy all this fuming over a review. I love Love LOVE my PAL. It's a GREAT sounding, portable (yes portable) radio, and the aux in is icing on the cake for when I want to listen to my iPod sans headphones.

I tested the Altec, and it's a complete toy. Yeah, it looks nice, and the "little boom box" styling will appeal to those who don't know better, but frankly stereo is quite useless at that size (if you're using a portable speaker system, you're most likely doing OTHER STUFF, not sitting in front of the speakers listening to the sound stage, right?)

Posted by Floggy Bottle on June 14, 2004 at 1:46 PM (PDT) Comment 27

Here are 5 examples of current panoramic imaging systems for small, closely spaced speakers. They are intended for laptops, TV sets, pocket gaming and audio systems, boomboxes, and other applications where small speakers are closely spaced. The images ***DO NOT*** collapse to monaural when the listener is at a distance from them.

There are many more such systems already developed, as well as several new systems in development.

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Link 4

Link 5



Posted by audioengineer on June 14, 2004 at 5:26 PM (PDT) Comment 28

Since I failed to make the comment in my last post, these devices from Bose, Dolby Labs, Spatializer Audio, SRS, etc. are NOT, as audiogeek states, "gimmicks" nor is the system the U.S. Air Force developed (for 9 million dollars).

They work well for their intended purpose.

Maybe even better than his beloved iPAL..........

Posted by audioengineer on June 14, 2004 at 5:51 PM (PDT) Comment 29

So at bonnaroo 2003, The Polyphonic Spree was walking around the festival playing music.. The guitarist had one of those pals attatched to his belt and his guitar pluged into it.. Seems pretty cool to me..


Posted by Eric on June 14, 2004 at 10:51 PM (PDT) Comment 30


u ipal peeps iz owned!

Posted by better deal stereo speakers on June 15, 2004 at 12:28 AM (PDT) Comment 31

Wow! It's nice to see so much passion expressed from such different points of view. I'd like to address some of your comments and concerns.

First, yes the iPAL is a cosmetically changed PAL with a connector cable included for connection to an iPOD. After receiving thousands of praises from iPOD users we thought that manufacturing a "matched" PAL would make a lot of those users happy.

Second, no one at Tivoli ever said that mono is better than stereo. What we do say and stand by is that "bad" sound is unacceptable from any number of channels. To make a "great" sounding system, several laws of physics must be adhered to. These include providing a large enough transducer to move enough air to produce real low frequency response. The motor required to move that air requires a magnet structure that is inherently heavier than smaller/inferior magnets.

Even if one were to accpt the extra weight, cost and bulk of adding a second high quality speaker, the seperation would be all but lost unless the speakers were four to five feet apart, unless one held their face within inches of the system. (not to mention the extra bulk and complication).

Speaking of weight, most of the addironal weight in the iPAL comes form the Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack. We use NiMH because it's Earth friendly (no mercury), plays for many hours, has no memory and long life.

Ther was only passing mention of the iPAL's ability to receive it's signal "wireless" through the FM band. At a press conference in NY last week we sent the signal over 50 feet and achieved crisp, clean playback of the iPOD. Let me remind everyone the the term "wireless" originated as the first name for "radio"

We will have a carry bag available for the iPAL in July. It will hold an iPOD (with or without an iTrip, an iPAL, and your headphones for about $30.

As far as our "marketing tricks", we are in the business of making and selling products. Not creating false demands or product outages.

BTW, we offer a "no questions asked" return policy. I suggest you try one from yourself. Risk free.

And last, Henry Kloss (my business partner of almost 30 years) was in fact one of the greatest inovators of my lifetime. He was never afraid to produce products that offer a maximum amount of value and performance, sometimes even in the face of popular opinion for the latest fad at any given moment.

It is my intention to continue this legacy.


Posted by Tom DeVesto, CEO Tivoli Audio on June 15, 2004 at 3:53 AM (PDT) Comment 32


The 3rd link is for the Bose MediaMate mini-speaker system, which retails for $99, and includes a pair of 2.5 inch speakers along with signal processing hardware to create a wide panoramic image despite using them closely spaced. Some mp3 players like the Creative Zen have such processing built into their DSPs, although the Zen imager in particular was not done very well for this specific effect, IMHO.

I have been reluctant to post specific product examples since the inevitable question then naturally arises (just as yours did): "Well, how do they compare to the inMotion or the iPAL, or some other brand, etc..."I don't know the answer to that question, although reviews on the web could be found which may answer it. I am personally reluctant to point to specific solutions without first-hand experience.

I apologize if my tone has been overly aggressive. Working as an engineer for over 35 years and also having a true passion for all things audio-related, I have a keen bullsh** detector, and I just cannot allow statements to be made which are technically incorrect. A lot of portable DVD players, laptops, and other devices use these technologies very effectively to create convincing and very wide sound images. And I am especially harsh when a simple matter becomes confused as it did in this case when speaker separation for stereo was confused with driver and amplifier quality, two entirely unrelated matters. Most of all, I react strongly when audiogeek dismisses the reviewer’s opinions as “specious” when, in fact, much of audiogeek’s commentary is precisely that.



Posted by audioengineer on June 15, 2004 at 4:01 AM (PDT) Comment 33

thank you for the gracious and articulate reply.
i am intrigued by your mention of the bose system, and find the explanation describing your reluctance to introduce specific products both fair and reasonable.
i, myself, share your passion for sound, though my training is limited to 30+ years of merely appreciating home audio equipment and, above all, music.
it is a subjective realm. it is my hope that we could consider jeremy's review a starting point for the sharing of knowledge,
discussion of a common passion and a forum for analyzing the merits of a product we strongly believe in.

again, my thanks for your clarification.


very nice of tom add insight to this discussion.

Posted by peter fillion on June 15, 2004 at 4:18 AM (PDT) Comment 34

i must respectfully submit, from a layman's point of view, that i do not understand how you can insist that stereo speaker separation is not related to driver and amplifier quality. the aforementioned would be rendered useless without the aftermentioned. inaccurate, ineffectual, and downright terrible separation of stereo signal exists in some products as a direct result of the product lacking quality amplification and/or drivers. or have i (very possibly) misinterpreted your point?

Posted by peter fillion on June 15, 2004 at 4:44 AM (PDT) Comment 35

Tom -

Thank you for chiming in. The PAL and your other radios are wonderful products, their quality and craftsmanship speak for themselves.

Posted by Floggy Bottle on June 15, 2004 at 6:22 AM (PDT) Comment 36


The iPod is a stereo device, designed to store and play back stereo encoded music. Through each and every stage of performing, capturing, encoding, and storing this music, the extra microphones, recording channels, storage bits, and data encoding methods are all designed to present an image which correctly imitates the spatial panorama which we all hear (unless we are deaf in one ear). Although the iPod can be connected to a single speaker (such as in an IPAL), it destroys the original intent and format of this stereo content. Although very fine single speaker monaural systems exist (I owned one called the Electrovoice Patrician which cost several thousand dollars), it is altogether confusing and specious to conclude that a single monaural solution is indeed preferable for use with the iPod, particularly if this conclusion is based on the false assumption which incorrectly states: "the fact is that "stereo" speakers offer virtually no stereo imaging if the speakers are close together". Since stereo separation is assumed to be of no consequence, the resulting "logic" then concludes that a good single monaural speaker (the iPAL) surely is better than two inferior speakers, such as the inMotion. As I think the prior collection of posts and web links illustrates, stereo separation and wide imaging are achievable with small, closely spaced speakers, and the degree of success in this specific regard depends (as is always the case) on the correctness, completeness, and sophistication of the design and implementation. The fact that the specific inMotion design may fail in this regard is, by no means, conclusive proof that such designs are doomed to failure in general.


Posted by audioengineer on June 15, 2004 at 9:06 AM (PDT) Comment 37

Apart from separation is an entirely different set of metrics which also define the "quality" of good sound presentation, including those which relate to frequency response and dynamic range. There are many other metrics to portray a speaker's "quality", including the way they spread energy spatially, the way they launch their energy temporally, the way they respond to and dampen abrupt (transient) energy, their ability to avoid numerous harmonic and spurious and other distortions, reflections, as well as a host of other issues particularly germane to "portability" and user acceptance, like their size, weight, sensitivity / efficiency, case design, aesthetics, and, of course, their price. My list is not entirely complete, but is merely intended to illustrate that there are plenty of ways to specify "quality" when it comes to speakers.
Therefore, to answer your specific question............stereo separation is achieved by the physical arrangement and placement of the drivers and the proper choice of image enhancement technology and is mostly independent of the particular driver and amplifier characteristics which are chosen to extend bass response, dynamic range, and other "quality" attributes. Separation is thus nearly independent of the other attributes, so that a very poor audio system may have superb separation (think of two sets of tin cans with strings!) and conversely a truly excellent audio system may have no separation whatsoever (a monaural "hi-fi" system). The engineering non-sequitur I violently objected to was the initial (incorrect) premise that closely spaced speakers can not produce a panoramic separation, and therefore,...........q.e.d...........a monaural solution is preferred, and.......thus the iPAL is somehow a superior solution.
Incidentally, I like the Tivoli product very much, and may purchase one myself, so I did not in any way wish to imply anything negative about this product. I merely think that a tiny stereo iPod player which fits in my shirt pocket should be heard in stereo. For $99 and 2 pounds of weight, I would begin my personal research by listening to the Bose.........and I may wind up with an iPAL when I get done comparing. I certainly would keep an open mind to other options however.


Posted by audioengineer on June 15, 2004 at 9:09 AM (PDT) Comment 38

thank you for spending the time to present
that information. you write well, and have illustrated a number of points quite well.
while in no way do i intend to diminish the credibility of your impressive and detailed points made pertaining to preserving spatial relationships, et al.,
i will have to confess to you that my own iPod often reproduces compressed copies of independent artist's recordings that, most likely, cost less than the equipment it is being reproduced on! this is not to say i'm not also in possession of some pretty decent recordings as well, but it is indicative my tolerance for less than perfect spatial relationships. i do hope you understand that my own "mono vs. stereo" issue is relevent to this particular review alone, as i have not, at this point, encountered a portable stereo solution that sounds (subjective, i know) superior to the iPAL's monoaural solution (the bose merits investigation, though). for what it lacks in lateral spatial soundfield, it seems to make up for in the depth of field, as i often detect sound, esp. percussion, fret buzz, etc., seeming to project well into the room, independent of the enclosure. as i had auditioned the inmotions twice, based on one of jeremy's earlier reviews, and found the system to be attractive and functional, though woefully lacking in any real ability to project effective stereo separation, nor could it approach the realistic timbres and bass response the tivoli is capable of. as such, i offered a subjective opinion, again, specific to this review and the two units mentioned therein, that monaural output, regardless of spatial detail compromised by the mixdown, was far superior in this case. that is all. (and that does appear to be an opinion held by others in forums i've followed)
i do apologize if you found my statements confusing and specious (overused in this forum wink ), as i was apparently not as clear in my presentation of that (subjective)opinion as i'd hoped to be.

truly, i thank you again for the time spent elaborating. i will have learned a thing or two...

i, too, hope to keep an open mind, and look forward to hearing of the results of your research.


Posted by peter fillion on June 15, 2004 at 10:09 AM (PDT) Comment 39

(date check) Hmm, it's June 15, 2004

(reality check) Who the @#$& wants to buy a single speaker ANYTHING these days?

Posted by Dave on June 15, 2004 at 4:09 PM (PDT) Comment 40

Tivoli employees (audioengineer, peter, etc.)

Please quit clogging up this great site with anonymous marketing messages and crazy defenses of this product. The Tivoli radio seems like a nice product but it is hardly portable, stereo, or even a product that has any but the most remote association with iPods. I think Jeremy went out of his way to give a more than fair review of a product that probably should not even have been reviewed here to begin with. And for Tivoli employees to clog up this message board this way is simply unacceptable.

iPod Guy

Posted by iPod Guy on June 15, 2004 at 4:48 PM (PDT) Comment 41

^Word ^Word (read with one eye closed then the other, to simulate reading in 3D stero separation)

Posted by ilcaffedio on June 15, 2004 at 6:49 PM (PDT) Comment 42

My Sony TV set in my dorm room has two little speakers built in and an image widening mode for the stereo sound. Even though the speakers are only 9 or 10 inches apart, the wide separation is easily heard when sitting across the room 10 feet away. When the TV show is only mono, the effect disappears. When the TV show has stereo, the sound is spread in a pattern much wider than the TV set itself. I'm sure there must be similar ways to spread out the sound for small music speakers. Even my tiny computer speakers make a very big stereo image and they are only a couple feet apart which doesn't disappear when I move far away from my desk. I hate listening to mono. I can't imagine why anyone would prefer to.

Posted by TomMcKinnon on June 16, 2004 at 4:03 AM (PDT) Comment 43

Thanks for the post. I'll bet you never in your wildest dreams thought there would be this much controversy over a review. I think it's safe to say that the iPAL will not be for everybody. It's nice to know that there is one more choice of items to pick when looking at iPod accessories. As you can see, there are many different opinions on the whole stereo vs. mono thing. I for one don't mind a single speaker as long as it sounds good. I don't have the PAL but I do own it's bigger brother the Model 1. And while it's not a full blown stereo system I knew that going in. I do have a very nice Stereo/Home Theater system for when I can sit down for a while. This brings up another topic. I'm sure people will disagree but I feel that unless you are centered between the speakers "in the sweet spot" you won't get the full benefit of the stereo recording. Using this theory, it doesn't matter much if say you are moving about in the back yard. Like I said earlier, this product won't be for everybody.

You know what would be cool though? If the "10 - 16 hour battery" could be utilized by the iPod. Even if it extended the iPod battery an hour or so. That coupled with a line out from the dock connector would be a nice touch.

Posted by Tom on June 17, 2004 at 8:51 AM (PDT) Comment 44

lol what does this have to do with the ipod? just the name? there are tons of portable speakers out there.

Posted by spirit on June 18, 2004 at 1:05 PM (PDT) Comment 45
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