Imagine a portable, battery-powered, rechargeable stereo speaker system roughly the same size and weight as a thick book that pumps out 40W of clean, wide range audio without distortion. Too good to be true? It probably was until IK Multimedia released iLoud recently. Out of the box I plugged in the supplied charger and topped up the Li-ion battery.
This only took a few minutes – a full charge takes about two hours, and delivers up to 10 hours of music. The unit is nicely styled in black plastic with a metal grille on the front panel which houses a rotary volume control. Flick the on/off switch on the back panel and the control glows red, flashing when the volume level reaches maximum (or minimum) levels.
I began by pairing my iPad to the unit by pressing the Bluetooth pairing button on the back panel of the iLoud and connecting via the Bluetooth settings on the iPad. This only took a few seconds. A second device can be connected the same way. Very quickly I had my iPod also paired with the unit. I then got some music happening from my iTunes library and this is where the magic kicked in. It sounds like a cliché, I know, but I couldn’t believe my ears. The sound quality and volume seemed impossible for such a small device. The bass response was particularly impressive and was noticeably enhanced when I positioned the unit as recommended near a wall. This improves the efficiency of the rear bass reflex port.
I can also connect the unit directly to my iOS devices with the supplied 1/8in cable. This I have to do when I want to amplify my guitar. Built into the iLoud is an iRig circuit which accepts a standard 1/4in guitar cable. I then fire up one of my audio apps (Amplitube, Fender, JamUp Pro) on my iPad, plug my guitar into the iLoud and start jamming. The volume is down a bit at first but the manual recommends cranking up the gain control on the back panel from the default setting of 50 percent. This improved things noticeably.
If I want to run vocals through the unit I’ll need to run VocaLive on my iPad and connect a microphone with a 1/4in jack – not an XLR plug.
Being so light and portable the iLoud is an ideal companion for a musician on the road, and in the studio. It also has the power to do the music for small parties, either indoors or alfresco. As far as sound quality goes the only comparable unit I have experienced is my Bose Wave system. And at $459.95 including GST the iLoud is considerably cheaper.