This has to be one of the most thought out, well written reviews I have ever read. Thanks to all the lads (and lasses) at iLounge, you guys are great!

Posted by MikeTCool on March 3, 2006 at 8:45 AM (PDT) Comment 41

Jesus... take a chill pill all u critics...

This is simply a SPEAKER system. How complex does it have to be ?? I think as ddeless aludes to, it simply fills out Apples product line to supply an APPLE product line to fulfull the general publics buying habits.

It will sell well, in spite of its price, and in spite of all the audiophiles complaints... because it is a viable option. Yes, there is better, and Yes, there is worse ! Use your descretion as a buying public. No one is forcing you to buy this product !

I for one and buying it. I have the feeling that it is more than adequate for my needs.

And, thank you iLounge for a GREAT review... It helped me make my decision between this unit and the Bose. You PRO's and CON's appear to be spot on to me...

Posted by Blanchman on March 3, 2006 at 11:55 AM (PDT) Comment 42

I can't understand why anyone would care if the system has video out ports. The quality of the video out is not going to be HD or even DVD quality video. It's a nice feature, however, I don't think anyone is picking up the IM7 just because it has a video port.

There also wasn't much on the digital audio input. Does the quality dramatically improve when using it?

Posted by LexLugo on March 3, 2006 at 9:19 PM (PDT) Comment 43

OH My God, Can't believe what we have become. We have ALL become a bunch of childish spoiled whiners. Everytime i look at these comments on almost any product for my pod, its almost always B!#@#!%% B#!$%!^!%! B!%$@^#&@^. What is wrong with all you people. These are just products people, like them or dislike them. Why are we putting sooo much emphisis on its trivialities. For those of you ( and you know who you are ) why don't you try and make something better ( i dare you )for all of us and beat Apple at their own game, if you are sooo f#!$#!$!$%!% smart. This comment is only directed to those wiseass who continually complain about everything. THEY KNOW WHO THEY ARE. I apoliaze to those who are more adult and senible about these things. Remember that idiot who tried to sue Apple cus he was listening to his ipod too loud and caused hearing loss. Well people, we have now gone down to his level. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
Lastly, I would like to thank ilounge for all the hard work they are doing and putting with all this crap.

Posted by Kastor Troy on March 3, 2006 at 9:36 PM (PDT) Comment 44

I just want to know if there is any way you can convert iTunes purchases to higher quality audio easily? I've tried and it won't allow it. Im not trying hard to bash this thing... I'm plenty happy with my JBL OnStage (that I got for $50 on ebay) in the corner of my room and am far too poor to pay more for an iPod accessory than my iPod itself being a college student and all.

What confuses me is why Apple dosen't at least offer music at a higher quality in the iTunes store especially now that they're "audiophile" concious. How about offering better audio and, uh, I dunno GAPLESS PLAYBACK before offering a product that will simply make the flaws in your iTunes purchased music easier to hear.

Also lastly if you DO happen to have enough money to buy such an extravagant accessory maybe you should consider spreading the love around a little. Orphans in India need money much more that good ol' Stevey. But who am I to say anything I'm a spoiled iPod owner too.

Posted by JeremytheIndian on March 4, 2006 at 12:10 AM (PDT) Comment 45

hah and for a little clarity... im a feather indian, not a dot indian =)

Posted by JeremytheIndian on March 4, 2006 at 12:11 AM (PDT) Comment 46

Thanks to all of you for your comments. A few responses:

jhh: "does the HiFi have a universal power supply, ie, one that works 110-240V?" The power supply is universal. The power cable is not; you'll need to buy adapters (or alternate cables) separately.

Also, to grossly generalize here, there are three ways to create the 'default output' for a consumer-grade listening device: bass-heavy (i.e. "satisfy the masses"), neutral (i.e. "satisfy the audiophiles"), or treble-heavy (i.e. "satisfy few, evoke complaints of 'tinniness.' "). Our preference, stated in many of our speaker and headphone reviews, is neutrality. Once a device is bass- or treble-biased, it's hard to correct post-facto, especially since the iPod itself has such modest user-adjustable equalization. Even turning "Treble Boost" on with Hi-Fi or a pair of bass-heavy headphones not only consumes more of the iPod's power (a problem on the road, not at home), but never gets you to the same place you'd be with a properly balanced device in the first place.

Ideally, then, headphones and speakers would be neutral, and have enough reserve on both ends to satisfy the substantial number of people who prefer to lean more heavily in one or the other direction. Unfortunately, rare is the neutral accessory. To many, bass is a proxy for power or quality, and thus we see lots of speakers built for warmth rather than accuracy. And no matter what the audiophiles say, the masses keep buying these speakers. That's the reason iPod Hi-Fi could well succeed in the marketplace in the absence of true audiophile-caliber performance and/or neutrality.

Put another way, iPod Hi-Fi's default (and even Treble Boosted) performance, is not as strong on highs as on mids and bass; it defaults at "warm," and for this reason would elicit complaints from hard-core audiophiles in the same way that Bose products do. In our minds, this is the clearest sign that Apple is employing the (admittedly quite successful) Bose strategy of positing a consumer-grade product as audiophile, then clinching the sale with the old "listen to that bass" trick. So, while it's correct to say that many audiophiles want out of the box neutrality (without needing equalization), the appropriate compromise given Apple's bass-leaning design would be to let users have greater ability to steer it towards balance, as numerous speakers from Altec, JBL, Klipsch, and others have done.

Also, we clearly recommended the Hi-Fi for specific situations (distance or loud listening) and said that there were other products better suited to other situations (quiet listening). We have no desire to encourage or discourage people from buying iPod Hi-Fi; we provide information about iPod/iTunes-related products, and are not a store that sees financial benefit from its sale, or the sale of its competitors.

Jeremytheindian: There's no way to convert iTunes Music Store songs to higher quality. If you want cleaner audio, you'll need to buy CDs.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on March 4, 2006 at 12:00 PM (PDT) Comment 47

You didn't even compare this to the iSongBook from Tivoli. You gave the iSongBook a great rating, but now it's fallen off your radar screen.
I love my iSongBook and IMHO it offers many more features for basically the same price point.

Brad Thompson

Posted by bradt on March 4, 2006 at 5:04 PM (PDT) Comment 48

Brad: The iSongBook and Hi-Fi are totally different products on everything except price. This was mentioned in the comparisons section of the review.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on March 4, 2006 at 9:59 PM (PDT) Comment 49

I don't think the weight of the Hi-Fi should be listeds as a "con" since it doesn't cause it to be too un-portable. The weight is a good thing when it comes to sound quality, especially bass. smile

Posted by blufire on March 4, 2006 at 10:41 PM (PDT) Comment 50

I'm not an audiophile and don't pretend to be. Having sold stereo's in the 80's I did learn a thing or two. If stereo equipment was to be called "hifi" it meant that the equipent was capable of a frequency range between 20 hertz and 20k hertz. If it missed this range by only one frequency it could not be called "hifi" which is High Fidelity. Back then only the very best top of the line equipment could wear that badge on it's faceplate. Sort of like home stereo equipment today which has the THX stamped on it's equipment. I like the design of this new product and think it sounds very good, not the best but very good. It fits in todays lifestyle and urban home decors. However, the name is very misleading as this is far from high fidelity sound. That said, in my opinion it's way over priced!

Posted by 200MPH on March 5, 2006 at 8:59 AM (PDT) Comment 51

I think what people need to realize here is that it does what it needs to do very well. In the limited time I listened to it; I liked that it was able to fill a room with good clean sound. In no way will the Hi-Fi be a replacement for for my legitimate audio system. If I want to hear good sound, I don't pick up my iPod or listen to my computer...I listen to the original CD. What I don't like is that Apple has the audacity to call it an audiophile quality system that will replace a high end rig. I think what they should say is that it is as close to audiophile quality as you can get for the form factor. In terms of reviewing the sound quality, it needs to be compared not to current iPod-centric speakers, but to current mini stereo the Denon/Mission, JVC or Tivoli systems. If you are going to call it an audiophile system, then you should ideally compare it to a proper two channel rig using small monitors (Paradigm Atom with an inexpensive integrated amp). Of course there is no way the Hi-Fi can create the soundstage a pair of speakers can provide. The current crop of iPod speakers are either repackaged computer speakers or are really better suited for near-field listening. To say that not having tweeters means that it can't produce quality highs I believe to be an uneducated statement. Current advances in driver technology can produce some high quality sound. The general public is led to believe that bright highs and deep bass means it's good. I'm reminded of how the consumer market tends to think that high power (like the $150 500WATT receiver) means that it is good. People need to learn that even frequency response and good soundstage is what creates a sound that is close to a live performance. To my ears, the Hi-Fi is the perfect solution in an environment where you want to provide quality, room filling, sound but aren't in the position to do critical listening.

Posted by lechonlubber on March 5, 2006 at 6:23 PM (PDT) Comment 52

Thanks for the review guys. I actually like the look of the iPod Hi Fi but not the price. I think all Apple branded stuff is overpriced, although I have given in and bought 3 iPods and several Apple branded accessories - but not this one. Based on your review of this unit and others on this site for other brands I decided to buy the JBL Creature II. I don't like the way it looks, but the sound is good, if somewhat weak on the midrange. I do like the price, ie much cheaper. Of course the JBL speakers don't really integrate with the iPod, but among all the accessories I bought I got the iPod Dock and Apple remote; this combination works well with these speakers.

Posted by madammelb on March 5, 2006 at 11:40 PM (PDT) Comment 53

Question: If I am trying to fill a room with quality sound from my iPod and no other source, why wouldn't I just buy a 2.1 system like the Klipsch ProMedia? I could hide the subwoofer and the satellites could be placed well apart for good sound. My iPod could sit on top of the woofer, plugged into its charger. Why would I buy any of the white systems over such an option? Someone, please offer arguments so I can choose wisely.

Posted by keeffers on March 6, 2006 at 12:18 PM (PDT) Comment 54

Thanks for your review Jeremy.

I can't help but wonder though..

What about users primarily interested in airport applications?

For me, the Hifi is an attractive option. I can use it wirelessly with my powerbook, or move it to another room for use with my iPod. I have yet to see any of these mini systems provide digital audio input, seamless iPod/airtunes integration, and portability in one package.

Moreover, for those using airtunes, would it not be the case that we could make significant adjustments to its said treble deficiency through the manual settings offered in iTunes? I'm in your corner with these ridiculous iPod preset equalizers, but it seems that for airtunes users, there exists a lot more flexibility in tweaking this thing.

I realize that there are cheaper versions of iPod music stations out there, but I'm attracted to the utility and simplicity of a high quality sound system I can use in different rooms via my powerbook or iPod. Am I missing something or has someone else provided anything similar?

Comments appreciated.

Posted by BeardedMonk on March 6, 2006 at 7:37 PM (PDT) Comment 55

Earlier today I went to my local Apple Store to check out the new Hi-Fi. For a premium price like that, I expected a lot. I didn't get it. I don't know if someone had already blew it out, but it just didn't have it. Thanks for posting your opinion on this and for giving it the score it deserves. I work at a place where I hear the IM7 and the Sounddock everyday. It may be on par with the Bose, but it does not have the full range of the IM7. You can find the Altec from $190 to $250. Just from the bang for the buck, you can get that and a home dock for less than the price of the HiFi. This is a great company, but I hope this isn't the way things will be from now on Apple. We expect more.

Posted by rebel_519 on March 6, 2006 at 9:10 PM (PDT) Comment 56

I acutally bought the iPod Hi-Fi, and am very please with it. I had an iM7. It's sound quality is absolutely amazing, and the design is nifty, not disgusting! I don't understand why so many people said no to this product...

Posted by Phillip Mirmov on March 7, 2006 at 10:54 PM (PDT) Comment 57

I took this review with a grain of salt (after poor review of e4c headphones (which are amazing).
Boy I'm glad I did. I live in a loft 1000 sq. ft. and this thing is shockingly loud and clear and fills the whole place up with sound... I love it, it will make your jaw drop when you hear how much sound this little (yes little, it's only 6.6" tall) box can put out. Go to the apple site and check out actual real world user reviews and you will see everyone is loving it. As far as design???? it is a speaker, what the heck do you want, remember form follows function, and when it comes to speaker less design is more... they are meant to be heard not seen, once you have it you will see price is justified, the unit is solid as a rock, everything about is high quality.
Hope this helps anyone on the fence and skeptic of this review.

Posted by dukka on March 8, 2006 at 12:23 PM (PDT) Comment 58

Many of the negative reviews of the Hi-Fi stem from Steve Job’s ridiculous claim that it could replace most peoples’ home audio systems. While I truly believe the Hi-Fi is a great product, it most certainly is NOT going to replace any half-way decent primary sound system. And it shouldn’t be expected to.

Rather than engage in obvious exaggeration, Jobs should have said that the Hi-Fi is the ideal companion to the iPod for moving music to a picnic, to the pool, to the vacation home, the office, a bedroom, etc. while providing a level of tonal accuracy not found among competitors offerings. In this context, the Hi-Fi is an absolute winner.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time listening to the top-performing entrants from Logitech, Bose, Klipsch, and Altec Lansing. In my opinion, the Hi-Fi does a far better job than all of these at producing sound that seems like REAL music. Credit designer Victor Tiscerano – a reknowned audio designer of very high-end audiophile gear – who clearly sought to avoid the tipped-up “boom & tizz? that the other dock/players (along with nearly every PC speaker system on the market) produce. To those who haven’t listened to a lot of live un-amplified music, the competitors systems can sound impressive initially, but after a short time (or right off the bat to those who know are well acquainted with acoustic instruments and live music), they sound artificial and grating. As with the others, the Hi-Fi does not produce a very wide soundstage. Then again, how could it – it’s only 17? wide. The Bose, Klipsch and the others are no better or worse. But remember what these players are used for: broadcasting music to a group of people at a party, a picnic, eating dinner, etc. – not just one person sitting within the stereo “sweetspot?. So, to summarize my impressions:

For a mere $350 the Hi-Fi offers superb best-in-class tonal accuracy where violins don’t sound like synthesizers and clarinets don’t sound like oboes. It’s also the hands-down winner in terms of musical dynamics (volume swings within the music) and it’s ability to play LOUD; it’s built like a tank – far better than the flimsy plasticky offerings from the others; it runs on batteries or AC (with no ugly brick); despite it’s all-white/ black scheme, it looks more sophisticate than the others (subjective of course). Almost elegant, in fact.

Apple should have provided a way to more securely fasten the iPod to the dock. A hard bump wouldn’t hurt the Hi-Fi (again, it’s incredibly sturdy), but it may send the iPod a flyin’. Plus, it’s awkward to manipulate the iPod buttons while simultaneously supporting the back of the iPod so it doesn’t flex the connector. Also, the speaker cover should be made of perforated metal (or one should be offered as an accessory) to better protect the drivers. Of course, they could offer this as an accessory item for those who plan to routinely transport their Hi-Fi.

Posted by syd123 on March 12, 2006 at 5:16 AM (PDT) Comment 59

Just re-read my review and wanted add the following regarding the weight of the Hi-Fi... Though it's doubtful anyone would want to carry this around on their shoulder (ala '70's boombox), it is still sufficiently light and well balanced to easily carry from the bedroom to the patio to the pool to workshop, etc.. For goodness sake, it's only 15lbs! It's far lighter than a set of golf clubs, a case of soda, or the child many of us carry up/down the stairs 250 times a day! Plus the handles really make it easy to lift. C'mon folks, I know this place is called the iLounge, but we don't have to be quite so sedentary!

Posted by syd123 on March 12, 2006 at 9:38 AM (PDT) Comment 60

One curious design gaffe: The documentation for Hi-Fi says for best sound the speaker should be mounted at ear height. Yet the dock is mounted on top of the unit, tilting back as if it were to be accessed from above. If you really did mount the speaker at ear height, you would have to stand on a ladder to operate iPod's controls. I know there's a remote, but that has limited functionality--can't navigate your playlists. Maybe Apple's planning to release a special step-stool for Hi-Fi? I hope they release it in black!

Posted by Kruggles on March 12, 2006 at 10:12 AM (PDT) Comment 61

Not to pile on the IM7 (for it too has it's merits and it is $100 less than the Hi-Fi), but it bears mentioning that the tray/mechanism that holds the iPod is very very fragile. In fact, at the Apple Store that I visited yesterday, the mechanism was broken to the point that the tray wouldn't close. One of the associates indicated that it has happened often to the display models and hence they get replaced every few days. She added "they get an extraordinary amount of abuse here, far more than they'd get at home.". While this may be true (or may not - as I have some pretty clumsy friends), each of the three Hi-Fi's had small crowds gathered around them and were working perfectly despite the iPod being lifted/ replaced seeming every 30 secs and being played very LOUD. None of these units (as far as she knew) had yet been replaced.

My point, the Hi-Fi seems MUCH more durable. So much so, that this alone would justify much of the price differential.

Posted by syd123 on March 13, 2006 at 4:27 AM (PDT) Comment 62

I don't know why Apple and everyone else I've seen comment on the iPod Hi-Fi didn't raise the fact that while it may be just fine just for the iPod but why didn't Apple make it to be used with their computers ? Why have Mac owners go out and buy a set of speakers to use with their Macs and then have to also buy the iPod Hi-Fi just to go with their iPods ? It sure would look good sitting behind my iMac G5 Intel and would sure sound good too. I think you goofed Steve !

Posted by Macaddicted on March 13, 2006 at 12:22 PM (PDT) Comment 63

I was skeptical about the Hi-Fi when I first read about the announcement. When I saw the first picture of it, I fell in love. It is minimal and very powerful looking. I was concerned about how it sounded though, but coming from apple, I knew that it couldn't sound that bad. I went to Best Buy and they had a display and one in stock. I put a test ipod in and was blown away. Even with the bad acoustics of the wharehouse like environment, the thing sounded amazing. It blew the sound dock out of the water. As for the weight, I like it being heavy. At least it won't topple off a table with a bump, or roll off of one like the im7. It feels solid and substantial. The sound dock feels light and unable to produce good sound. I bought one and I am loving it. Go and try one out before making preconceived notions.

Posted by Tanmanchan on March 13, 2006 at 11:31 PM (PDT) Comment 64

I find it interesting how the opinions on the Hi Fi sounds fall into one of two categories: either “Wow, this sounds great!? or “It’s awful – too muddy, no treble!? I can’t help but wonder if this underscores key differences in their listening habits, and what they normally listen to their music on.

Fewer and fewer people these days go to hear live music performed in a small, intimate setting where you can clearly hear the textures and colors of the instruments. Instead, they go to concerts in massive arena where the signal is intentionally distorted through 20 different processors before it’s blared through PA speakers before finding our ears. Likewise, fewer people these days have quality 2-channel (generally the best for music) audio systems – instead, we listen to music primarily in cars, through inexpensive earphones or at home on 5.1 “theater-in-a-box? systems with mini-cube speakers and big subwoofer.

IMHO, whether you’ll love it or hate the Hi-Fi will depend a lot on the standard to which you compare it. If you listen to a lot of live music and have a keen sense for what instruments (particularly acoustic) really sound like, I think you’ll like it. On the other hand, if you compare this to typical “thump and screech? car stereos, portables, computer speakers, and all-in-one home theater systems, you’ll probably find Hi-Fi to sound boring. If you want to hear the music the way the artist intended it (my preference), I think the Hi-Fi is the best of the iPod all-in-ones (though it’s still a far cry from a true high-end home stereo rig).

Posted by syd123 on March 14, 2006 at 4:36 AM (PDT) Comment 65
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