XtremeMac has deservedly become a household name for excellent and innovative Mac and iPod products and accessories. In an earlier DigitalTrends review, the XtremeMac Tango speaker system earned excellent scores. The Luna is promoted as a “revolutionary alarm clock + room audio system” and “a revolution in time.” With an optimistic and hopeful disposition, we at Digital Trends put the Luna though some rigorous testing to see if we agree with the revolutionary claims and glowing reviews found elsewhere on the Internet. Continue reading to discover how the Luna fared.
Features and Design
The Luna looks somewhat like a miniaturized version of the XtremeMac Tango speaker system, sans the wide beveled top. The outer shell is made of glossy, smooth white plastic that is a near match to the material used to make the beloved 1-3G iPods of yore. The Luna is wrapped nearly 360 degrees by a shiny black mesh-like grill. Under the sleek black grille are two (roughly 2″) speakers that put out 10 watts each, along with a two-channel amp. There are no separate tweeters or subwoofer.
The physical dimensions of the XtremeMax Luna are 11″x5.5″x2.9″ and weighs in at a modest 3lbs 7oz. Add 2oz. for the included remote control.
XtremeMac includes nearly everything you’ll need to instantly begin listening to music through the Luna. You get the Luna itself, the color-coordinated remote control, power plug, clunky AM antenna, FM antenna and a wee bit of documentation. There were no iPod dock adapters included with my Luna. This may have changed since the time mine was packaged and shipped, however it seemed to be a little bit of an oversight on XtremeMac’s part to not include such an inexpensive but necessary part.
The Luna’s remote control is set up much like the Tango remote, but has a few more buttons. It has power on/off, source (FM, AM, iPod), Shuffle, Reset (brings bass & treble settings back to neutral), volume up/down, track forward/back buttons, play/pause, independent bass and treble controls, playlist controls (the only real iPod navigation function available – limited, but appreciated), alarm on/off/reset, and the button most likely to get used… snooze/sleep.
The top of the Luna is adorned with four silvery buttons/knobs that control: Alarm 1, Alarm 2, Volume/Snooze/Source, and Dimmer/Alarm Reset/Menu. The recessed iPod dock is front and center between two of the silver control knobs.
The Luna has a modestly-sized 2.75″ diagonal screen which displays the current time, alarm times, radio stations, etc. The displayed text and icons are a cool, radiating white against a black background. It’s somewhat soothing, which is great for a clock radio. The screen brightness can be changed with a rotating dimmer knob. In my personal opinion, the screen is way too bright for bedside use, even at it’s lowest setting. A clock radio should be visible and pleasantly readable. It shouldn’t illuminate an entire room or leave one with momentary night blindness. It seems that some lower-end clock radios have a built-in sensor that automatically dims the display at night and brightens the display when ambient light increases. The Luna would benefit from such a feature.
XtremeMac Luna & iPod nano
AM, FM, Etc.
Because some people still listen to AM/FM radio, XtremeMac caters to them with the AM/FM tuner built into the Luna. Folks can wake up to crrrraazy morning zoo baloney and countless ads should they wish to. Just plug in the AM and/or FM radio antenna into the back of the Luna and tune into your favorite stations. Granted, you may find that the radio reception isn’t very impressive. I had to hold the FM antenna at about eye level to get one of the more popular stations in town. Setting the antenna down behind the night stand or onto the floor left the radio station with a slight hazy sound.
The Luna has a “line in” jack on the back for AUX input – think secondary iPod, laptop, powered karaoke mic, Zune (ha ha – as if), etc.
The back of the XtremeMac Luna
No More 9 Minutes
Thanks to the Luna’s customizable snooze settings, you can forget about the arbitrary 9-minute snooze dictated by so many clock radios and alarms. Set your own snooze period – 1 minute for the highly motivated, 11, 22 or 33 minutes for the compulsive, or even 60 minutes for those Sunday afternoon snooze-fests.
Another positive feature is that the alarm, whether radio, iPod or otherwise, comes on gradually. There’s no jarring blast to spike your heart rate in the morning – just a gently increasing reminder the get off your duff.
Only 4G and 5G versions of the iPod can be connected to the iPod dock on the Luna, including the second gen Shuffle. It is very likely that the 6G iPods (and possibly the iPhone) will also dock with the Luna and other XtremeMac speaker systems. When an iPod is connected, the Luna will charge the iPod. If you are connecting a 2G Shuffle to the Luna, you’ll need to use the super-handy Griffin shuffle dock adapter which will cost you about $14 in stores. Note that with the Griffin shuffle dock adapter, you’ll have to periodically toggle a tiny switch from “play” mode to “charge” mode. This is because the 2G shuffle can’t simultaneously play and charge on a dock at the same time.
The Luna has a small battery compartment for two AA batteries. These won’t power the Luna unplugged, but they will save the time, date, alarms and radio presets you worked hard to set up. In case the AA batteries die and the Luna happens to get unplugged, XtremeMac added a 5-minute redundant power backup to help keep your settings intact.
Wake Up! Really, Wake Up!
Ever wake up late after having unconsciously turned your only alarm off when you should have been getting your bleary-eyed self in gear? The Luna gives you a second chance at punctuality thanks to Alarm 1 and Alarm 2. You can set a second alarm for when you expect you’ll accidentally fall back asleep. The second alarm is also good for couples who wake at different times. Alarm 1 and Alarm 2 can even be set to respond with custom settings. If you prefer to wake with your iPod and your significant other wants to wake to his or her favorite FM station, no problem. The Luna can serve up custom presets.
Setup and Use
Setting up the Luna is easy. The product packaging contains the Luna, power cord, remote, AM & FM antennae and limited product documentation.
Remove the Luna from its box and place it on a night stand, side table or desk (wherever you plan to use it). Plug it in to an outlet. Use the silver control knobs located in each corner to set the date and time. As necessary, continue setting up the Luna with alarm settings, screen brightness, etc.
When you’re ready to test your iPod on the Luna, pop in the appropriate dock adapter and dock your iPod on the Luna. The Luna remote won’t control the iPod’s menu for music selection, so you’ll have to manually select some tunes to listen to. Volume controls are on the Luna (silver knob) or on the Luna remote control. Adjust bass and treble to your liking. If you ever get frustrated by your bass/treble settings, you can always reset settings using the “reset” button on the remote. As mentioned elsewhere, this brings the bass and treble settings back to factory defaults.
One cool thing that the Luna allows is the navigation of playlists using the remote. You can toggle between weekend easy-wakie music or workday jolts – whatever you prefer.
XtremeMac Luna w/iPod Shuffle Docked
With everything set up, navigate to one of your favorite playlists and press play on the remote. In my tests, iTunes songs (both standard and iTunes Plus) and home-ripped MP3 files sounded pretty good for a clock radio. Typical clock radios give tinny, crappy 2-watt sound, so the Luna blew the norm to smithereens.
After testing the Luna for several days, I was able to get a solid handle on how the speakers perform. As mentioned above, the Luna has only two speakers and 20 watts overall, so it’s obviously better than most iPod clock radios. Comparing the Luna to other popular iPod speaker systems such as the XtremeMac Tango, I thought the Luna was pretty weak. The Luna’s bass was clear and sure, but it just didn’t have any real depth or spirit. The mids and highs, however, were a lot better.
Because the Luna has been lauded as a revolutionary product and certainly because it was produced by XtremeMac, I thought it would be a lot better. It is, however, better than most other iPod clock radio systems. I suppose the main issue I have is the disparity between the “revolutionary” and “outstanding audio” descriptors used in marketing and the actual real-world audio playback, which is good to really-good, but not certainly amazing or outstanding.
Pushing My Buttons
One of the prettier features of the Luna also happens to be an unexpected and undesirable flaw. The sleek silvery buttons on the top of the Luna control nearly every feature and function available. The very first night I set it up in my bedroom, I did so at about midnight when my wife was already asleep. I pressed the “Alarm 1” button to set the first alarm, and the button depressed with a loud “click! clack!”. It was loud enough that it woke my wife up. I apologized and continued to configure the Luna. “Click, clack! … click, clack! … click, clack!” Over and over, no less than a dozen loud click-clacks in the still of the night as I was setting up the morning alarms. Not only were the buttons terribly noisy, they were somewhat hard to accurately control. They seemed to rotate well, but the rotation and tactile feedback didn’t always coincide with the on-screen menu. Because of this, it is easy to over and under-navigate, making the setup and reconfig process a bit tiring.
I was very surprised that a high-tech bedside clock/radio – one that is described as a revolutionary device – could sound so unpleasantly loud when pushing simple buttons. At midnight or 1AM, when sounds are so amplified, I might as well have been popping bubble wrap. Should the engineers at XtremeMac take this into consideration and silence the buttons and make them a little more accurate in a future Luna revision, the otherwise wonderful design would end up being close to flawless.
The XtremeMac Luna is a great little iPod-based clock/radio system for home, dorm or office use (for those that power nap at work). With its unique design, the Luna looks, functions and sounds better than most other clock/radio systems available on the market. Although I had one significant beef with the Luna (loud click-clack buttons), I was satisfied by its performance as a clock radio. As an iPod speaker system, I thought the sound was hampered when compared to more advanced systems like the Tango. But if you’re in need of a simple, high quality solution for enjoying your iPod music in combination with a classy and feature rich clock radio, the Luna is a great choice.
• Lots of great clock radio features
• Sleek, modern design
• Better sound than average clock radios
• No bulky power brick
• External audio input
• Limited iPod menu navigation
• Excessively loud buttons
• So-so AM/FM reception