Welcome back to another installment of our weekly music column. Each week, we bring news, reviews, and information on apps and accessories that musicians and fans of music will love. Last week, we told you about the Roadie Tuner. Your strings will never break unexpectedly again.
With the holidays fast approaching, we’ve got a few hands-on reviews in the works for the music lover in your life. Our first review is of IK Multimedia’s newest product to launch this year. The iLoud speaker is a studio monitor-quality speaker that is great for solo musicians. It is also the perfect speaker to fill your holiday party with festive music.
The iLoud is a portable speaker that combines deep bass resonation with super loud audio output. It features a 40-Watt speaker, four Class-D amplifiers, some woofers, some tweeters, and a partridge in a pair tree. No, seriously, this thing has got power.
The speaker itself is about the same height and width as an iPad, but is just over 2.5 inches deep. It is just about as light as an iPad, too. It is actually a bit heavier, but not much.
It is made with a sturdy plastic shell and rugged metal mesh covering the front grill. it features a rechargeable Li-Ion rechargeable battery and comes with a power supply cable for recharging when you are not on-the-go.
You can play audio two ways with the iLoud. If you are just listening to music, you can connect the powerful speaker to any Bluetooth-enabled device for full, rich sound. You can also connect your guitar or microphone directly into the speaker and connect your iPad using a compatible app and play your instrument directly into the device.
For musicians, the iLoud is sort of like a souped-up iRig. You plug your guitar into the speaker, and then plug the speaker into your iPad’s headphone jack. If you recall the first version of iRig, you had to connect a pair of headphones (or a speaker with a compatible connector) to the adapter to hear sound because it was using your headphone jack. Think of the iLoud as the headphones you never wanted to wear. It pumps the sound out through 40 Watts of power instead of your tiny little EarPods.
The speaker is specially designed to sit flat on a table (or the floor, if you so desire). It is tilted upward just a tiny bit. If you need more stability than the 2.5 inches of width can offer, there is a kickstand on the back that rotates outward, giving you an additional couple of inches of girth.
The first thing I did when I took the speaker out of the box was test it with basic songs from my iTunes library. In addition to the super loud volume that pumps into your room, the iLoud offers a level of bass resonance that I’ve never heard in a portable speaker of this size. I have been able to test quite a few Bluetooth connected mobile speakers and they always lose points when it comes to playing Wu Tang at full volume. The iLoud surpassed any bass test I’ve performed on any speaker of this size in the past.
If anything, it was almost too bass-y. Interestingly, the iLoud has a “bass reflex port” on the back that moves around the air and resonance. It is recommended to place the speaker a few inches from a wall for the best acoustic sound. If your music sounds too bass-heavy, pull the speaker away from the wall a bit.
The second thing I did after testing the iLoud’s bass performance was plug in my guitar and play. The iLoud does not play audio from your instrument directly. Instead, it channels through the iRig input, into your iPad, and back out to the speaker. This is how you can turn a crappy old Squire into an epic metal grinder.
It works flawlessly. There was no delay in the sound from when I strummed to when it came out of the speaker. It enhances the effects pedals of the AmpliTube app so that every note sounds like it is coming through a monitor.
Of course, a speaker this small is not going to replace a show PA system. However, this portable little monster can fit in your gig bag along with your iPad so you can head to the nearest café on singer/songwriter showcase night and not have to worry about the power going out.
I’m picturing renegade outdoor shows where small groups of people gather in empty parking structures, listening to indie musicians play acoustic sets without getting busted by the cops for using electricity illegally. I’m not condoning public noise violations or anything. It’s just something I’m imagining right now.
What I Like: My favorite aspect of this speaker is how loud it gets and how comfortable the bass resonance is without distorting at full volume. I have never tested a Bluetooth wireless speaker of this size that performed as well when “turned up to 11.”
For the level of audio output, you’d think this speaker would have to be huge and heavy. It is incredible that it is about as small as an iPad and only a little bit heavier.
What I Didn’t Like: Nothing. I was completely impressed with the performance of this speaker. It truly lives up to its name.
Verdict: You don’t have to be a musician to appreciate the iLoud. Because it connects to any Bluetooth-enabled device, you can use it in your living room to listen to your favorite tunes. If you or someone on your wish list is in the market for a new speaker, the iLoud is a great buy. If you are a musician, this is a great addition to your home recording studio. It works great and plays loud.
- Accessory Name: iLoud
- Category: Bluetooth Speakers
- Developer: IK Multimedia
- Price: $299.99