XtremeMac is known for innovative, high quality iPod accessories, including A/V accessories for the AppleTV and iPod-ready speaker systems like the Tango – a sleek, high-powered speaker system built for use with any generation Apple iPod, iPod mini, and iPod nano. We at Digital Trends put the Tango through the paces to see if it’s a worthy competitor in the iPod speaker market, or if it falls short of expectations. Continue reading to find out how the Tango performed.
Features and Design
The XtremeMac Tango is a low-profile, compact speaker system somewhat reminiscent of the iPod Hi-Fi. The shell is made of glossy, smooth white plastic, and its rounded sides give it a futuristic/chic appeal. The speaker housing is enclosed in a suspended, black metal frame with a mesh-like front grill. Inside the housing are two 2.5″ mid-range speakers, two 1″ tweeters, and a 4″ downward-firing subwoofer.
To prevent the unpleasant flatulent sounds of loose bass, XtremeMac designed the Tango with built-in vibration dampening. Even when volume and bass are turned up high, bass holds tight and clean. This should hold true for most music genres. (Extreme hip-hop bass may push the limits, however.)
When buying XtremeMac’s Tango speaker system, you’ll find nearly everything you need to begin listening to truly awesome audio. You get the Tango, remote control, power plug, five plug adapters (US, UK, EU, AUS, KOR/PPK), three iPod adapter inserts, and Tango documentation. The reason I say “nearly everything you need” is because not all available iPod dock adapters are included. The second-gen nano adapter is one example.
The Tango remote has track forward/back buttons, volume controls, and surprisingly, bass and treble controls.
All versions and generations of the iPod can be connected to the iPod dock on the Tango, except for the Shuffle. When an iPod is connected, the Tango will charge the iPod whether the Tango is turned on or not. Of course, if the Tango is not plugged into an outlet, no charging will occur. According to XtremeMac, the only standard iPod that will not charge on the Tango is the third-generation iPod (but it will play fine).
For fifth-gen iPods (iPod video), the Tango has an S-video jack and a 1/8″ audio/video line out jack to send audio and video to an external TV. In lieu of buying an AppleTV, the Tango can be used as a sort of middleman or proxy for bringing video content to a television set.
The Tango weighs about 7 lbs. 9 oz., whereas the iPod Hi-Fi weighs 14 lbs. 8 oz. The Tango is much easier to move from room to room. In deference to the iPod Hi-Fi, the Tango has no battery bay and therefore cannot be used unless an outlet is nearby. You won’t be able to get your groove on during a blackout. (Not that kind of groove, anyway.)
The XtremeMac Tango
Setup and Use
Setting up the Tango is very easy. Upon opening the product packaging, it’s clear to see that there are few parts to worry about. The box contains the Tango and in small, separate boxes are the power cord, several foreign plug adapters, the wireless remote, three universal iPod dock adapters, and a nicely presented packet of product documentation.
After removing the Tango from its box and placing it in an acoustically-friendly location, plug it into an outlet. Be thankful that the Tango doesn’t have a bulky power brick. Find the proper iPod dock adapter for your iPod. (Unfortunately for me, XtremeMac only supplied an adapter for the first-gen nano, so I had to use a spare second-gen nano adapter from my office.) Once your iPod is docked on the Tango, retrieve the remote control.
Although the remote is slightly larger than I would have expected, I was surprised that it had bass and treble controls in addition to the standard power, volume, forward, back, play, and pause buttons. It also has a nifty “R” button to instantly return the Tango back to default/neutral settings. At first I thought it was a superfluous feature, but I’ve already used it a dozen times. It’s pretty cool.
The only thing missing from the remote is a button to control navigation through the iPod’s menus. To change artists or playlists, one needs to navigate the menus on the iPod itself. This is a bummer for folks who don’t want to (or can’t) get up to change tunes. Why didn’t XtremeMac include such a critical and obvious feature?
With everything set up, navigate to one of your favorite playlists and press play on the remote. In my tests, the very first song I played, “The Safety Dance,” sounded sort of bland. I thought it was odd, so I checked my iPod settings and discovered that the EQ setting had somehow been changed. I set the EQ back to “Off” and tried playing the song again. It was awesome! Bass, mids, and treble sounded lively and authentic. I skipped forward to Bjork, Ice-T, INXS, Nelly Furtado, and Akvarium, all of which sounded fantastic.
When turning the Tango off via the remote, any music that’s currently playing fades to silent, then the unit turns off. When turning the Tango back on with the remote, the previously selected song begins playing again, this time increasing gradually to the previous volume level. If, for whatever reason, the previous volume level was way too loud, you won’t scare the crap out of yourself or your neighbors with an instant explosion of music. You’ll have a couple seconds to halt the volume at an acceptable level. No more ringing eardrums or startled neighbors.
Tango Vs. iPod Hi-Fi
When Apple first announced the iPod Hi-Fi, I was smitten. The morning it was released, I bought one and brought it home. Once set up, I tested it with some of my favorite songs. Sadly, my music sounded different, and not in a good way. Although all the notes were audible, somehow the spirit and vivacity was diluted. I was disappointed.
When I saw the Tango for the first time, my first instinct was to discount it as an iPod Hi-Fi wannabe. Prematurely critical, I started it up to see how long it would hold my attention. I was very pleasantly surprised! After 40 minutes of fiddling with the Tango and experimenting with numerous songs over and over again, I was drawn in. I decided to get one and continue testing it in my office.
Listening to the Tango and iPod Hi-Fi side by side – dueling speakers, if you will – I found that the Tango offered much better mids and highs. Even though the iPod Hi-Fi’s bass was a bit stronger, bass from the Tango seemed cleaner and truer to original recordings.
What surprised me most was the low price of $149 USD vs. $349 USD for the iPod Hi-Fi. I checked online and saw Tango prices as low as $129 USD.
The Tango is an awesome iPod speaker system for home or office use. With its two mids, two tweeters, and beefy bass pumping out sound, the Tango easily fills rooms with crisp, clean sound. In most cases, the Tango sounded as good as or better than the much more expensive iPod Hi-Fi.
I found myself constantly impressed by the Tango’s performance. That said, I realize that the Tango won’t replace more complex, receiver-based home audio systems. But if you’re in need of a simple, high quality solution for enjoying your iPod music, the Tango is a great choice. Although I love Apple products, I have to say that if you’ve been considering the iPod Hi-Fi, you may want to reconsider. Get two Tangos and a $45 iTunes gift card for less than the iPod Hi-Fi.
• Impressive sound
• Very affordable
• No bulky power brick
• External audio in and out
• No iPod menu navigation
• No battery option for mobility