Perhaps never before I have reviewed a product with such a perfect name. IK Multimedia’s Bluetooth speaker -- sorry, make that audio monitor -- is called iLoud for a reason.
The black self-contained speaker/receiver is about the size of a box of Wheat Thins. Its all-black design is broken only a by a small logo and a glowing red ring around a knob in the center of the speaker grill — the only user interface on the front of the iLoud. It works just fine with any Bluetooth device, for example an iPhone or iPad. The weight is 47 oz. (1.33 kg).
If HAL 9000 and the monolith had somehow gotten together to have a baby — well, other than that Keir Dullea embryo-thing, that is — it might well look like the iLoud.
Loud is Only Half the Story
If iLoud were just loud, it wouldn’t be much of a story. No, the iLoud manages to be loud and clear — not an easy trick. Even at volumes that literally shook the windows in my house, the iLoud manages to deliver clean, clear audio, with no fuzz or distortion with a rated 40 watts of audio power. It’s an important trait to have, because iLoud isn’t merely intended for audiophiles. Like many of IK Multimedia’s products, it’s meant for musicians — sound designers, performers, editors, mixers.
IK Multimedia says iLoud’s “time-aligned two-way system, precision custom neodymium loudspeakers, tuned bass-reflex, non-resonant enclosure and digital signal processing (DSP), offer an ultra-accurate frequency response, exceptional low-end and stereo imaging.” There’s a lot of technospeak in there, but it’s accurate. The iLoud produces a phenomenally true audio signature that makes it perfectly suited for mobile recording, editing and mixing. And in a lovely little design touch, the iLoud has a foot that swivels out from the base to make it more stable.
View of the back.
That doesn’t mean mere audiophiles can’t appreciate it, though. At US$300, it’s on the high end of the latest generation of bluetooth speakers, but that’s a little like saying a Breitling is more expensive than a Swatch. A Bose SoundDock runs the same US$300, requires you to physically connect your iPhone or iPod, and can't pair with other devices like an iPad or Mac.
Lots of Ways to Get Loud
The iLoud can pair with up to two devices at the same time via Bluetooth or through any device via a standard audio cable. Pairing is dead simple; just press the pairing button on the back of the iLoud to make it discoverable and choose it in your device’s Bluetooth settings. The company says you should get about 10 hours from the battery, and that’s in line with our testing. When the battery gets low, the red circle on the front will start to pulsate, letting you know it’s time to recharge.
The iLoud has become my go-to home audio system, allowing me to play my iTunes library, Pandora stations or anything else I want with pristine clarity. And perhaps this is sacrilegious given it’s name, but the iLoud plays beautifully at low volumes, making it perfect for background and mood music for reading or entertaining.
The Musician’s Friend
But here’s the coolest part. Because iLoud is made by the same folks who make the iRig, it has a built in iRig circuit that lets you plug your guitar, bass, iKeys or microphone into the iRig and through your favorite audio app, like AmpliTube, essentially turning the iLoud into a high quality practice amp.
Now Hear This
With its small footprint, long battery life and of course big sound, the iLoud is an extremely impressive device. Its high quality sound and ability to connect your guitar or mic to its built in iRig circuit make it that much cooler.
The iLoud is yet another huge hit for the folks at IK Multimedia, who are at the top of their game in providing innovative, pro-quality devices and accessories for professional musicians and audiophiles alike.