The iPod revolution has spawned hundreds of add-ons including a wide array of speakers.
Many speaker systems are slightly adapted powered speakers, but a few have really made the effort and are designed from the ground up for the iPod. The success of those, and the fact that Apple appears to have settled on one interface, has sparked a second wave of speaker systems that integrate further with the iPod. Altec Lansing, one of the first to design speakers for the iPod, has released the inMotion iM7 system.
Altec Lansing lays all the usual hype on its speakers. It apparently has maximum-output, neodymium speakers. That might mean something to somebody, but not me. I’m just going to have to go with my ears. The results? Pretty darned good. Neodymium or not, they sound great. If you are a fan of maximum base then the sound can get a little loose. But by any measure these are excellent speakers.
So they sound good, which, of course, is most of the point of speakers. There are other things to consider though. Usability is an issue, and again the iM7 scores well. It works by putting your iPod in a dock much like an old fashioned cassette with a door that opens. Any iPod with a dock connector will fit – or any apart from the original one and the shuffle. The space for the iPod is adjustable, so iPods of any thickness can be accommodated, including any bigger future versions, most likely.
Once in, the iPod is controlled by an infrared remote that slots in the back. You can skip tracks, play and pause and adjust treble and bass. The design also incorporates a handle so it’s easy to carry. It can even run on batteries, so is ideal for picnics and beach parties. However I’m not sure if I’d let sand near a £200 speaker system...
What the iM7 is really screaming for is a carry case. The shape is portable, but I’d want to have some padding if I was going to take it on the road.
For portable iPod speakers the iM7 is unrivalled. Nothing else I’ve heard can match the performance of these speakers. If you include the non-portable iPod speakers though, there is more competition. While the Altec Lansing speakers keep pace with, and may even outperform, the Bose SoundDock, there is new competition from audiophile favourites as Monitor Audio on the way. We’ll be looking at the Monitor Audio i-Deck in the next issue, but until then the Altec Lansing iM7 is the top choice.