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

iLounge took the time to do controlled tests against multiple speakers and explain the results. So far the only disagreement I've seen with those results is in the opinion of whether Hi-Fi's sound is better for the masses. You seem to think it is.

Different reviewers are entitled to different opinions. No one has to re-review something just because your opinion is different.

Posted by sliver on March 14, 2006 at 9:24 AM (PDT) Comment 66

By the way, you say:

"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."

You claim that you know what the artist intended? Truthfully, no one does, sometimes not even the artist, because recording engineers and producers are at least as responsible for the final sound as the artist. All you really know is that the Hi-Fi sounds like you want it to sound like. Produce some evidence of artist's intent and some graphs to show exactly how the Hi-Fi replicates that with a 17-inch (or less) soundstage.

Posted by sliver on March 14, 2006 at 9:30 AM (PDT) Comment 67

I like the Apple iPod Hi-Fi and I bought it. It is capable of new standards of performance in this size and price range but requires tweeking the input to achieve best results. It likes extra bass and treble: use iTunes' excellent 10-band equalizer, for example; Volume Logic helps too. Audio Hijack Pro lets you make and record even finer adjustments. Listen at a distance and set the speaker at ear level. The speaker CAN sound unimpressive, but with a little work it really is stunning.

Posted by stagebillm on March 14, 2006 at 1:31 PM (PDT) Comment 68

I think these speakers sound awesome. I went into the apple store today and listened to them, they are great. I dont understand why all these people are bashing them. They may be over priced, but what apple product isnt? IF YOU DONT LIKE IPODS AND IPOD ACCESSORIES THEN DONT BUY THEM! Go get some POS creative or iriver or whatever, but stop complaining.

Posted by rocker on March 14, 2006 at 10:36 PM (PDT) Comment 69


"You know what the artist intended? Truthfully, no one does, sometimes not even the artist, because recording engineers and producers are at least as responsible for the final sound as the artist."

You missed my point (perhaps my fault for not being clear). What I'm trying to say is that the more familiar you are with the sound of real, unamplified acoustic instruments, the more you'll prefer the sound of the Hi-Fi to the other offerings mentioned in this thread. Generally speaking, the more "truthful" speakers are to a real reference (acoustic, unamplified instruments) the more likely they are to be truthful to the artists intent on other "processed" types of music.

Perhaps "accuracy" is an attribute that means nothing to you (which is fine, you're certainly not alone), but it may mean something to others reading this thread.

Posted by syd123 on March 15, 2006 at 5:40 AM (PDT) Comment 70

Quite how you can claim the Hi-Fi presents acoustic music in a faithful way, when its source is a digital music player where the music is compressed, is confusing. Unless you are ripping all your CDs to your iPod at CD quality bitrates - and even then there are true audiophiles who believe the best source is always going to be from a vinyl record (analogue).

I seriously doubt that this is High Fidelity (the origin of the term Hi-Fi) because it is a one box design, devoid of the full range of driver units expected from high fidelity speakers units and it is using a compressed digital source.

It might fill a place in kids bedrooms or studies or dorm rooms, but as a replacement to a good separates system with decent speakers, it will never be....

Posted by Bob Levens on March 15, 2006 at 8:40 AM (PDT) Comment 71

Hi Bob,

..You're absolutely correct in that the Hi-Fi is NOT true High Fidelity (at $350 how could it be?). I made this point as well in my first post in this thread. All I'm saying is that - of the similar offerings out there - I have found the Hi-Fi to come closest to sounding like real instruments. For example, when I hook my iPod up to the Altec Lansing IM7, Vivaldi's Four Seasons (to my ears) sounds like it's being played on a synthesizer. On the Hi-Fi, the violins and violas sound less forced or tilted - more "real". Again, your ears may tell you differently. But I still think it's worthwhile for those who compare the Hi-Fi to the IM7, Bose Sound Deck, etc.. to have on their iPod recordings of acoustic music that features instruments with which they are very familiar. Play these through the devices and see for yourself which sounds most real.

Is the Apple Hi-Fi the best choice for getting sound from your iPod for $350? No way! If that is your goal, I'd recommend going to Audiogon or even Ebay to buy a used NAD or Rotel integrated amplifier for $150, then buy a pair of entry-level Paradigm, PSB, or even Polk Audio bookshelf speakers for $200. This will get you closer to true "high-end" sound than the Hi-Fi will take you. Problem is, try playing that system on batteries, dragging it to a picnic, the pool, the patio, or to a vacation home.

It is in this sense that the Hi-Fi is a great product.

Posted by syd123 on March 15, 2006 at 10:08 AM (PDT) Comment 72

Note: We have removed a number of ad hominem references from the comments in this review, and closed other comments at the request of the original poster. Please keep your comments on-topic (the specific product being reviewed and compared), and do not resort to personal insults. Thank you.

Posted by Bob Levens on March 16, 2006 at 4:00 AM (PDT) Comment 73

After listening to this the sound is good for the size of the unit, nothing steller. No where near Hi-Fi sound though.

If it was designed with a more integral docking station, that allowed one to leave their ipod in its protective silicone or clear plastic hard case it would be worth the price though.

Redesign it so that there is a compartment that the ipod fits in, that allows you to hook it up with the varied cases, you can use a cable to attach to the unit, then close the lid. Then a small LCD display on the outside with a black background and white readout...and they would have had a design worth all the bravado surrounding it.

Posted by dasgreif on April 5, 2006 at 11:45 PM (PDT) Comment 74


I understand what you are trying to say about the quality of sound the hi-fi reproduces versus all the other competitors on the market. After listening to the IM7, and Blows products, I too feel that the hi-fi does a better job of being the best option as a portable, secondary listening system for those with ipods or any mp3 player. The volume that this speaker system puts out was MUCH greater than I thought possible. Compared to my buddy's IM7 it sounds much more life-like and can fill a room much better than the IM7.

Because of the batteries, I think this is going to be great on the boat, camping, tailgaiting, and in the kitchen.

Posted by Chicken on April 10, 2006 at 2:24 PM (PDT) Comment 75

does it do audio books well? I have been testing speakers at stores and have not found a descent portable set that does both music and audio books well.

Posted by urbanwarrior69 on May 6, 2006 at 7:37 PM (PDT) Comment 76

From someone who works at an Apple authorised reseller, both the Bose and Apple sound docks generate a good quality sound that will satisfy most people's requirements; Good Loud music, charging/AC operation, and semi portable (ie: holiday houses)

These products satisfy the market they are intended to. If you (like some posts) want more, a local (Australia) retailer offers a mid range rotel/JBL package with dock and cables for $900ish.

It always amazes me the idiots who post "It sound like sh1t", "Bose are .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)...", "Apple don't have enough features", etc.

iRiver have many more features than iPod, and what is their market share? iPod IS easily the best portable music package available. There is little argument.

Bose sell very well and at very healthy margins. Their ease of use and lack of cables and large components appeals to a wide market.

Personally I run mine through a NAD amp and Dynaudio bookshelf speakers because I appreciate that last 5% of quality. But I never use more than 25% of my amps power capability.

As an audiophile I'd loved to see iPods encourage people back to quality HiFi components, but the truth is content (and ease of use) is more important than outright quality to most people.

To all those Bose and Apple knockers, go back to the binary world you live in and let the rest of us enjoy quality products.

Posted by GlennFromAUS on June 16, 2006 at 5:05 AM (PDT) Comment 77

One last thing to add though, I can't stand the placement of the iPod on the Apple HiFi system. Many people complain that it limits the placement of the speaker system.

The Bose system is the better designed product, but one can't help thinking it seems at the end of it's life. Please bring a new imporved version, or even just a next model up.

Most customers I speak to couldn't care less about aux in or dock connectors, these are placed in the living room or holiday house.

Posted by GlennFromAUS on June 16, 2006 at 5:16 AM (PDT) Comment 78

lol.. pulled the submit trigger a bit too early... I bought the IPOD Hi-Fi about a month ago and just took it to my first large outdoor party for the summer. There were various other portable IPOD types of systems (Altec 7, SoundDoc etc) but only ONE clear winner. In fact two of my friends are off today to purchase an Apple IPOD Hi-FI . Its ease of use and sound quality at both HI volumes and very moderate (over dinner) were well received. yea they are a bit pricey, but so was my IPOD 5g and I dont regret either purchase for a moment.. both are outstanding products and together are unbeatable IMO

Posted by CMasten on July 16, 2006 at 8:06 AM (PDT) Comment 79

There's a lot of truth to the statements being made about withholding judgement until one has actually tested several of these systems. I just tested the Hi-Fi, the Altec-Lansing M602, Bose SoundDock and Logitech AudioStation. Using my own iPod, the AudioStation was far superior in sound quality to the other offerings. It was so good and obvious that another couple who was there listening with me also purchased an AudioStation despite likely being pre-disposed to the SoundDock.

To each, his or her own.

Posted by fuel0707 on January 3, 2007 at 11:17 AM (PDT) Comment 80

I live in Scotland and bought the Apple iPod Hi-fi from the Apple shop in Chicago whilst attending a conference in June. I took my Nano to the shop and tried all the speaker systems and chose this one based upon sound quality alone. The Bose Sound Dock came second. Over the years I have had a few iPod speakers and none come near to the sound quality here. I dumped my old hi-fi in my lounge and play all my music via the iPod and I'm very happy with the sound quality. I have a 60gb iPod that stores c. 15,000 tracks in AAC and MP3 and of course the great benefit is the playlist option. For my car I prefer a second 60gb iPod that stores tracks in Lossless as I find some music sounds thin. However I couldn't recommend this speaker system more. It's perfect even though it caused some issues getting the speaker back to the UK as hand luggage!

Posted by [email protected] on June 30, 2007 at 11:17 AM (PDT) Comment 81
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