Pros: A sophisticated component audio system for the iPod family, offering ten feet of user-positionable left and right speaker separation, and a central, resizable iPod dock with clean, powerful amplification. Superb sound quality for the dollar, with impressive detail across sound spectrum, beating out Apple’s more expensive iPod Hi-Fi at regular volumes. Includes great RF remote control and input ports for auxiliary audio and computer synchronization. Available in black or silver/gray versions.
Cons: Though detailed, bass reproduction falls short of lowest levels and sub-sonic thump offered by similar and less expensive speakers. No optical audio input.
Though Monitor Audio has spent the last year focusing on European sales of its component iPod stereo system i-deck (spelled in all lower case and with the dash, rather than iDeck), the company has now officially released the accessory for U.S. consumers at a substantially more affordable price. At $250 – down from an expected U.S. price of $350 – it’s most certainly one of our top iPod speaker recommendations, and good enough that we wrestled with A and A- ratings before ultimately settling on the A-.
powerful three-component iPod docking speaker and amplifier set by respected British outfit Monitor Audio.
Featuring a dock with multiple sizer plates to accommodate all dockable iPods from 3G to 5G, mini, and nano, i-deck also includes an input port and cable for older iPods and shuffles, as well as a docking synchronization port for use with a PC or Mac, and an international power supply with four sets of popular wall blades. It is available in jet black or two-tone metallic gray, and can be controlled from a distance with an Infrared remote control – no buttons are on its body. Twin 4-inch drivers provide mid-range and bass, while two .55-inch tweeters handle treble, all in user-separatable speaker enclosures that connect with cables to the iPod dock.
Though Monitor Audio has spent the last year focusing on European sales of its component iPod stereo system i-deck (spelled in all lower case and with the dash, rather than iDeck), the company has now officially released the accessory for U.S. consumers at a substantially more affordable price. Introduced at $250 – down from an originally expected U.S. price of $350 – it’s most certainly one of our top iPod speaker recommendations, and good enough that we wrestled with A and A- ratings before ultimately settling on the A-.
Given that it has three decades of expertise in stereo design, it’s not entirely surprising that Monitor’s premise with i-Deck is the rare one that actually sounds better in person than it looks on paper. An iPod dock with a quality amplifier inside is paired with two large but not heavy satellite speakers, each possessing one four-inch mid-range/bass driver, and one .55-inch tweeter for treble. Together, the four drivers are capable of impressively reproducing almost all of the perceivable audio spectrum, and because they’re housed in separate enclosures, you can position each in your choice of locations up to five feet away from the dock – ten feet total.
For those keeping score, these features of i-deck’s design enable it to provide better sound staging and regular volume sound quality than Apple’s $100 more expensive iPod Hi-Fi system; and unlike iPod Hi-Fi, i-deck also comes in your choice of two color schemes: the original silver and gray version, which hasn’t struck us as especially iPod-appropriate in coloration, or an all black version, which we strongly preferred. Other colors have been tested, and may be released in the future.
Both versions of i-deck are packaged with multiple sizer plates for all iPods from 3G to 5G, mini, and nano, each of which has its respective iPod’s top poking only a little over the central dock’s top – a better-looking and more secure design, in our view, than the one used by iPod Hi-Fi. Additionally, the dock has several ports on the back: there’s an auxiliary input port and included cable for older iPods and shuffles, as well as a docking synchronization port for use with a PC or Mac, and an international power supply with four sets of popular wall blades.
Notably, Monitor Audio also includes a nice wireless controller in the package: a radio-based remote that the company doesn’t quantify with specific performance guarantees, yet actually worked from distances of over 50 feet from the central dock, even with a partial wall in-between them. Unlike Infrared-based remotes, Monitor’s lets you operate the stereo from a different room, or without pointing the remote directly at the dock, which makes i-deck one of the better-equipped iPod speakers we’ve tested in this regard.
Our feelings on i-deck’s sound quality are a little nuanced, but overall, extremely positive. As suggested before, i-deck bests Apple’s iPod Hi-Fi at regular volume levels, delivering cleaner, more dynamic sound, and lacking the midrange/low-end bias of Apple’s design. This isn’t an easy feat for any speaker, let alone one that’s much more affordable than Apple’s. We also found i-deck’s sound signature – fixed, in that there are no bass or treble controls on the unit – to be highly appealing, a nice balance of response and detail across highs, lows, and mids.