updated 12:05 am EDT, Fri June 6, 2008
iN Studio 5.0
In the old days, a complete stereo system might require a turntable, tape deck, CD player, receiver, and speakers. Nowadays, such stereo systems with multiple components taking up entire shelves seem as antiquated as a television set with vacuum tubes. For most people, their entire music collection fits comfortably on their favorite digital music player. However, music players require headphones or ear buds. If you want to share your music with others, you need a set of speakers such as Sierra Sound's iN Studio 5.0 Smart Speakers.
Sierra Sound offers its speakers in a high gloss finish with a choice of three colors: white, black, or Ferrari red. Besides its appearance, the weight (23.3 pounds) and bulk (7.25 inches wide, 8 inches deep, 10.785 inches high) of these units make them impressive enough on any desk. Due to the heft of these speakers, once you find a spot to set them down, you probably won't want to move them again on a regular basis.
Named for both its built-in 50 watt dynamic bi-amp and its 5.0 inch magnetically shielded paper cone, the iN Studio 5.0 speakers are more than adequate replacements for the built-in speakers that come with many computers (such as iMacs or laptop computers) or the flimsy speakers bundled with the typical PC. With its frequency response (50 hz-22kHz) and input impedance (10k Ohms unbalanced), the audio quality is very good, making these units a handy accessory for anyone who demands superior audio quality.
What makes this unit especially versatile is the wide range of audio input they can accept. First, it offers a standard iPod docking station on top of one speaker along with various adapters to hold different size iPods including the iPod mini, iPod Nano, or even an iPhone.
When plugged into the docking station, the speakers automatically recharge your iPod. An included infrared remote control lets you control your iPod from across the room so you can pause, adjust the volume, and play the iPod without physically touching the iPod's controls every time.
For those without an iPod, you can connect any digital music player (such as a Microsoft Zune) to the back of the speakers using a connecting cable. Such a requirement means keeping a connecting cable around at all times plus you'll have to worry about running the batteries down on your music player since the speakers can't recharge it automatically like an iPod.
An included S-video cable lets you connect a TV, VCR, or DVD player to these speakers while the included RCA cable can connect a video camcorder to the speakers as well. Finally, an included USB cable lets you connect any computer to these speakers to play your digital files directly off your hard disk. With so many different ways to input audio through these speakers, you're sure to find a way to use these speakers for any device that outputs audio.
A special Auto/On/Off switch lets you control the power usage. When turned On, the device is ready to play audio, but at the expense of consuming power all the time. When turned to Auto, the speakers automatically power up when receiving an audio input signal, and then powers down when the audio signal stops to save energy. When turned Off, the unit won't play any sound until you flip the switch to Auto or On.
A master volume control knob in the back of the speaker lets you adjust the volume. An AC Selector switch lets you adapt to different voltages if you plan on using these units in another country.
For $299, the iN Studio 5.0 Smart speakers are definitely a luxury for playing audio from a variety of sources. If you have the room and the money, this will definitely complement any digital music player or computer.