Tannoy makes an impressive iPod sound system. (April 4th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Tannoy Ltd.
Price: $399.00 US
- Sleek design. Loud, distortion-free sound. Good speakers. Built-in carry handle.
- Expensive. Video doesn’t work with newer iPod models. No controls on main deck.
U.K. based Tannoy, known for its professional and home audio loudspeakers, decided to give us iPod listeners the benefit of their years of audio expertise with a quasi-portable stereo system. The sleek and brawny Tannoy i30 looks impressive on any surface.
This heavy-duty speaker system has an oval shape that is flat from the front view, but extends the oval in the back, complete with an inset hidden handle. The clean front design has not a button to be seen; so all the controls are on the small remote.
The front is graced with two non-removable gray grills that cover 4-inch iCT, Inductive Coupling Technology , speakers and an iPod dock, under which is a gray TANNOY label. When removed from its suitcase-like box, the sheer weight of the speaker system is impressive, as is the simple packaging. The i30 weighs in at a whopping 8.2 pounds.
Ensconced in thick foam, the i30 comes wrapped in soft cloth labeled the kit, while the accessories are in a box similar to the rectangular iMac accessory box, slipped between the foam. Inside the bits box are five iPod docking inserts, a stereo min-jack audio cable, the power cable, an English printed manual and a mini-disc with the manual in other languages. The mini disc probably wasn't a great decision considering how many computers come with slot loading disc drives. Two Union Flag pins with the Tannoy logo also grace the top of the package, so you can wear your purchase on your sleeve, so to speak.
The back of the Tannoy i30 includes the power cord plug, the 3.5mm Stereo mini-jack port, an USB port, a video-out port, and two screw holes, if you want to mount it on a wall. You can buy the wall mount separately. The video-out is not compatible with newer iPods, but the USB-B port lets you connect it to your computer, so you can synchronize your iPod with iTunes without removing the iPod. If you opt for the wall mount, don't place it too high, because you need to be able to view your iPod screen to navigate play lists.
The seven button infrared remote is your only control interface, and it lacks menu navigation, shuffle, and repeat capabilities. Basically, you have to manually choose your song or play list and use the remote to control the start, stop, or move forward and back across songs. The remote also mutes and turns off the i30. The i30 also automatically turns off when you remove your iPod, but with the lack of lights you can't tell. While the remote works better than many other IR remotes, it still needs a line of sight to work well.
The speakers produce good resonant bass with little to no distortion, even when the volume is turned up, which is no problem for the 50-watt system. This box is capable of extremely loud sound. As best as my ears heard, it achieved its advertised frequency response of 60Hz to 22kHz, and this is one of the few systems I've tested that accomplished its goal. There's a nice depth of sound across the high and mid-range levels, but the bass overshadows them. While listening to Sentimentale, a Suite for Flute and Piano, the flute was almost lost completely. An equalizer adjustment might have solved this problem, as does using uncompressed music. Acoustic guitar, rock, and rap music sounded great though. If you're interested in more of the technical aspects of the sound system, please peruse the review at About.com.
I think the well-designed system is impressive, but like most iPod stereos with no tone controls, pushes the bass too much. Many systems push the bass to adjust for compressed music, so when you listen to Apple lossless or uncompressed formats, it overshadows some of the midtones. Most listeners should be very happy with the sound generated by the i30 though. The issue is whether you really want to spend $400 for an iPod stereo that is useless if you lose the remote and is only as portable as the power cord will reach.
While the i30 is a beautifully designed system, I still prefer the Monitor Audio i-Deck, which you can now buy on sale for significantly less money than when it was introduced.