By serving up premium sound quality, Klipsch’s remarkably simple iGroove SXT delivers where most others have failed. Lightweight and unassuming, it may be just what you’ve been looking for in a portable iPod or iPhone speaker system. Be aware, however: The device does come with some drawbacks, including the lack of several features commonly found on competing models.
Have you checked out your local department store’s electronics section lately? If so, then no doubt you’ve noticed the plethora of iPod- and iPhone- related products lining the shelves. The iPod’s seemingly never-ending rampage has sparked an onslaught of products and accessories made by every electronics brand you know – and many you’ve never heard of as well.
Ironically though, these feature-laden, bulky and downright ugly contraptions usually miss the mark when it comes to the one feature that really matters: Actual audio performance. Thankfully, Klipsch has begun developing products that refuse to sacrifice sound quality at the price of convenience. With the iGroove SXT, form and function combine to offer you more than you bargain for when looking for an iPod speaker system.
Out of the Box
The iGroove is packaged sparsely. Inside the box you’ll find a cluster of dock adapters, a DC power supply cable, a small card-style remote and a manual.
It’s hard not to notice how light the iGroove SXT is when removing the unit from its packaging. For decades now, weight has been associated with quality when it comes to audio. Quality speaker magnets, power supplies and anti-resonant enclosures are usually made from heavier materials so, naturally, to sound good it must be at least a little bit beefy, right? The iGroove’s weight matches is diminutive size though, and at just 4.75” x 12” x 4.625” the system just doesn’t appear capable of delivering full-bodied sound without distorting.
Then you turn it on….
Features and Design
Since inception, Klipsch’s hallmark design has been the horn-style tweeter. Its low power requirements and superior dispersion have been providing Klipsch fans with big soundstages and engrossing stereo effects for years. We’re pleased to see this tweeter technology included in such a compact and inexpensive product. Indeed, most other manufacturers use a single driver to cover the entire spectrum of sound and, frankly, they just aren’t up to the task.
The two ¾-inch MicroTractrix Horn tweeters are mounted in the upper corners of the iGroove and are accompanied by two 2.5-inch mid-woofers. We suspect this is a similar driver compliment to what is found in Klipsch’s HD Theater 500 (reviewed here). The speakers are bi-amplified, which is to say that the tweeters and woofers are each powered with their own class D amp. This approach usually leads to very accurate sound with low distortion.
The top of the iGroove provides a scant three buttons for operation: Power and Volume +/-. The remote adds play/pause, track advancement and mute buttons. On the back you’ll find the DC power jack, a 3.5mm mini Aux input (for use with just about any other audio device) and an S-video output jack.
Auditioning iPod speaker docks is usually a disappointing process. Many models we’ve seen sport bells and whistles that suggest a well-designed product, but fail pretty miserably when it comes to generating pleasing sound. Mercifully, the iGroove’s musicality is breath of fresh air for the mid-end iPod dock market.
You can’t help but be impressed by the might of this little guy. Each song selection we used tested the limits of the iGroove in some way. Each time, our challenge was met with finesse. Only when pushed to its maximum were we met with distortion and, well before that time, sound became uncomfortably loud for the room we were in.
That’s right: Not only are high volume levels reachable, but audio quality was clear and balanced at all volumes. Though you won’t be upsetting the neighbors with any pounding bass, each instrument in the low end is faithfully represented. We didn’t sense any glaring holes or annoying coloration to the sound. Where other iPod docks’ sound came off as tinny or hollow, the iGroove consistently provided balanced, enjoyable audio that was clearly audible from several rooms away.
Controlling the iGroove was easy enough, but then there isn’t that much to control. Most iPod related functions are still controlled from the iPod, save track advance or reverse. We also like the addition of the S-video output. Though not practical for everyone, the ability to output video can come in very handy when entertaining or on the road in a hotel. Just connect an S-Video to a capable display and you’re all set.
Despite its deceivingly small stature and light weight, the iGroove delivers great fidelity at impressive volumes. It’s safe to say that few (if any) products in its price range offer anything close to its performance. The iGroove’s authoritative, unbloated bass response, clear, accurate midrange and brilliant high end detail are sonic attributes found primarily in much larger and/or more expensive iPod docking systems. While you won’t get an AM/FM tuner, alarm clock or EQ settings in the iGroove, realize. What you will get is exceptionally balanced audio performance from a very portable and affordable product.
- Impressive sound quality rivals most competitors in and out of its price class
- Compact, light and portable
- S-video output for TV connection
- Quick-charge circuit charges iPod/iPhone rapidly
- No battery power option
- No FM Tuner
- Limited control of iPod or iPhone
- No cable for 3.5mm aux input provided