The ipod revolution has literally inspired hundreds, if not thousands of products designed to enhance the portable music experience. One of the fastest growing sectors of the market is the ‘portable’ speaker designed specifically for the ipod. That brings us to the Altec Lansing ‘In Motion’ IM7 speaker system.
Is this the best of the bunch? Is this something you need for your ipod? Read on for my thoughts. The ipod has spun off a whole new economy with regards to headphones (stay tuned for reviews on some of the best,) speakers, cases, music services, etc. The success of the portable speaker is somewhat curious to me. Many of us have nice Home Theater systems or other Stereo equipment in our homes. We can always plug our ipod into one of the numerous jacks behind or in front of the receiver and listen. Maybe this is too complicated or maybe we just want to be able to take our speakers with us like we do our ipods.
Many of the best names in loudspeaker technology have found this to be the case and designed ‘high end’ solutions for the ipod. Names like Bose, Klipsch and Altec Lansing are known for speakers and headphones and now, for ipod solutions.
The Altec Lansing IM7 takes a similar, yet slightly different approach as compared to the Klipsch and Bose models I have seen in the stores. The IM7 is actually portable. It has a nifty handle in the back and it can be run on batteries for use outdoors, or at a bar-b-q or wherever.
The IM7 is very classy – actually beautiful to look at. It is white (ipod white) and rounded. There are no sharp corners. The ipod sits in the middle in a nifty retractable tape-deck-like iPod cradle. At the back end of the retractable cradle is an adjustable dial which adjusts the depth of the cradle so it can fit every size ipod. The only ipod that didn’t fit in the cradle or in the included adapter was the Nano. After visiting the Altec Lansing web site I saw that a brand new adapter could be ordered for, get this…free (including free shipping.) When the iM7 is plugged in, it will charge the iPod while it’s in this cradle. On either side of this slot, behind the protective grille, are two 1-inch tweeters and two 3-inch midrange drivers. A 4-inch side-firing subwoofer and a 4-inch passive radiator sit behind the screens on either end of the cylinder.
On the back side of the IM7 are lots of jacks. There is a headphone jack, a composite video out and an ‘S’ video out and an auxiliary out jack. So, with the included cable, any mp3 player or anything that puts out an audio signal can play through the auxiliary jack. The cool thing about this unit is that with the new ipod video or an ipod photo, you can have your images play through your TV or monitor.
This is where the IM7 shines. Somehow, this little device puts separate tweeters, mid-range drivers, subwoofer and passive radiators in a small space to deliver big…really big sound. The high frequencies are crystal clear. The stereo separation is probably as good as it can be when speakers are so close together. Vocals were rich and smooth and instrumental solos were a pleasure to listen to.
The bass is just not to be believed. In a relatively large room, the bass was tight and full and could be felt. Now, it is not like there is a 12 inch subwoofer – but it is better bass than any portable speaker system I have ever heard. The subwoofer fires a huge amount of air making bass full and believable The IM7 is capable of filling a large room with loud, full and accurate sound.
The IM7 is amazing in so many ways. In addition to the great sound, it is truly portable. Batteries can be inserted for outdoor use. The carrying handle makes transport easy and the design is very sturdy. The addition of the video out jacks was terrific. I was able to show photos on my TV and watch video from the ipod on a bigger screen with the beautiful sound of the IM7.
The Technical Details from the Altec Lansing site are as follows:
High Efficiency Digital Amplification
XDB(tm) enhanced Subwoofer
Built-in iPod Cradle
AC and Battery Powered
Maximum Output Neodymium Drivers
Video Output for iPod photo and new iPod video
This is, hands down, the best portable speaker solution I have yet to hear for the ipod. The design is sleek, the sound is huge and clear and the ability to connect to a monitor for video/photos is just icing on the cake.