Review: XtremeMac Audio Splitter for iPod shuffle
Pros: iPod shuffle-matching audio splitter that putatively lets two sets of headphones or speakers listen to the shuffle at once.
Cons: Didn’t work properly out of the box; audio was unlistenable unless Splitter was moved into odd positions, and even then was unstable and tentative.
It’s one of those ideas that seems almost impossible to get wrong. XtremeMac’s Audio Splitter for the iPod shuffle ($12.95) is a little white plastic add-on that’s meant to turn the shuffle’s single headphone port into two, just like Monster’s iSplitter, XtremeMac’s earlier Audio Splitter (iLounge rating: B+), and Macally’s PodDuo Headphone Adapter (iLounge rating: A-). Any of these devices would let two people can listen at once with headphones, or allow one person to connect two sets of speakers at once for that matter.
One key difference, of course, is that this particular headphone port splitter is designed solely to fit the iPod shuffle - a niche product to say the least, but one that we’d imagine someone might prefer on looks alone to the larger and cheaper ($9.95) Macally and Monster offerings. We’d personally opt for something that was useful with multiple iPods, especially given that the other alternatives aren’t exactly difficult to carry around, either.
But the other major difference was performance: something apparently went wrong in the manufacturing process for at least the unit we received. The bottom plug on the audio splitter is supposed to make contact with the inside of the iPod shuffle’s headphone port, but never seemed to seat correctly; if wiggled, it sometimes sounded okay, but most of the time, it didn’t. What little sound we could hear from either of the headphone ports was mangled, data-like gibberish at a very low volume.
Not only couldn’t either of the headphone ports be properly used when the Audio Splitter’s headphone or speaker connections were fully made with them, but the iPod shuffle also began to exhibit an interesting electrical oddity - when we touched the shuffle’s USB plug while it was plugged in, a loud buzzing sound was added to the headphone port. As this didn’t happen with other audio splitters we tested with the iPod shuffle, we’re guessing that something went wrong with this particular one.
Under iLounge’s policy on defective accessories, we’re obliged to give the Audio Splitter for iPod shuffle a D- rating as tested. We hope that other units aren’t affected in the way that ours was, but if a future revision is produced that remedies the above issues, we’re willing to take a look at it. If you need an audio splitter in the meanwhile, consider any of the other options we’ve mentioned above - they do a comparatively great job without the hassles.