If the iHome brand seems familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen or heard their products at your favorite large-scale retailer. In 2005 iHome began making affordable clock radios for the iPod and since then has expanded their product line to include a dizzying array of portable speakers, home stereo systems, earbuds and even more clock radios. iHome, though very successful and popular, is not what we’d characterize as a “high end” brand, but with the introduction of the iP1, the company aims to change that perception.
Decked out with powerful digital amplifiers, individually enclosed speakers and a proprietary DSP chip that promises to improve sound by “adding back what the MP3 took away” the iHome iP1 certainly looks and reads like a high-end iPod speaker dock. In this review, we’ll put the iP1 through its paces and see if its sound measures up to the all of the company’s hype.
Out of the Box
The first thing we noticed about the iP1 was its weight. At a little over 8 lbs, the iP1 is one of the heavier iPod speaker systems we’ve tested and certainly on par with the weight of many of the high-end brands we’ve seen. But as soon as we removed the iP1 from its box, our attention was stolen by the iP1’s striking appearance. The iP1 doesn’t have a cabinet or case, per se. Instead, each speaker is backed by a cylindrical enclosure and mounted into a ½” thick slab of smoked Plexiglas.
Included with the iP1 is a power adapter stout enough to run your laptop (which we do not recommend trying, by the way), an ultra-thin remote control and an extra pair of grill-less speaker bezels that allow the user to show off the slick looking 4” speakers.
Features and Design
If iHome’s design intention was to get the iP1 to stand out in a crowd, then they’ve succeeded in a big way. The individually cased speakers mounted into clear plastic forces one in for a better look.
High frequencies are taken care of by two individually enclosed 1” silk dome tweeters driven by a 20 watt digital amp. The midrange and bass frequencies are produced by two 4”, fiberglass woofers with very high-end looking phase plugs that protrude from the center of the driver. The 4” speakers are driven by a separate amplifier that delivers 80 watts of digital power; (In case you’ve lost count, that 100 watts is pretty impressive for an iPod speaker dock.) Each 4” driver is backed by a ported cylinder enclosure for enhanced bass output.
The docking portion of the iP1 is located in the center of the unit and adorned with just four buttons that control power, volume and the iP1’s proprietary Bongiovi (not to be confused with Bon Jovi) digital processor. An adjustable rubber bumper is located in the center of the unit to offer varying degrees of support to the back of iPod or iPhone that is being used.
On the back of the unit we found the iP1’s power jack, a 1/8” line input for use with other audio devices and a component video output to send video off to your TV, if you like.
iHome makes a big deal out of the Bongiovi DSP chip buried under the hood of the iP1. According to the product literature, the Bongiovi chip is a complex algorithm that reprocesses your audio and “replaces” sounds lost in the compression process while also boosting bass. All you need to do is “press the button” and your sound is transformed.
The iP1 loses a few points for missing some convenience features. You won’t find a clock on this unit nor is there any carrying handle to be found.