iPod speaker systems

Introduction

Some of you may remember when reel-to-reel tape was a common household item; on the other hand many music fans don’t even remember the 7-inch vinyl single. Hi-fi technology has changed beyond recognition in the last few decades from the birth of the CD to the digital revolution. Analogue-based music systems are fast becoming casualties of the iPod age, as they move aside for a new breed of stereo.

It’s a digital age, but shopping for stereo equipment remains the same – you want to find the best possible sound output you can get within your budget.

Just because you’re playing relatively low resolution compressed digital sound through your system doesn’t mean the results have to sound flat in comparison with analogue equipment: most top-tier speaker systems already host technologies to enhance digital sound.

Another advantage of solutions like these is their compactness. You can replace your home hi-fi with a device that takes up much less space, as most available solutions are all-in-one.

Arguably, Apple spearheaded the top-tier speaker industry for iPods with its iPod Hi-Fi. Apple has just discontinued it and it’s not yet clear if Apple has an improved model up its sleeve – but you can get one while stocks last. The introduction of the iPod Hi-Fi helped legitimise the new market for iPod-friendly hi-fi replacements.

All-in-one solutions aren’t ideal for everyone. If you’re used to wide stereo effects, or appreciate 5:1 surround sound, then you’ll notice the difference in spatial quality. Most such systems deploy technology to emulate speaker separation, but you must consider the size of your room and the presence (or otherwise) of furniture and what-not that serves to soak up sound.

If there’s one element of the solutions available right now that’s lacking it must be the remote control. We find most to be too small, too complicated, or unresponsive. While many devices now ship with radio frequency (RF) remotes with a 150-foot range, we see little worth in such facilities if you can’t read the track names. We also dislike small remotes – they’re too easy to mislay. The remote control for any iPod system must be as easy-to-use and intuitive as the iPods they serve.

In this group test we set some of the very best hi-fi replacement systems up against one another. We paid particular attention to sound separation, the quality of music playback, portability, and design – after all, if you want to replace your home system with a digital one, you’re going to want something that looks the part. We identified a couple of systems that should meet your needs for under £200. Read on to find out which ones impressed.

Find the best price