The iPod Shuffle is the redheaded stepchild of Apples iPod product line. While the rest of the models get lots of attention from 3rd party vendors with peripherals from skins to speakers, the Shuffle is ignored like Cinderella on the night before the ball. Well Cinderella, your carriage is here in the form of the Logic3 IP-105 I-Station Sound Dock for the iPod Shuffle.
Weighing in at a mere one pound, this diminutive speaker system is an excellent compliment to the Shuffle, in that it doesn't take up much room, and travels well. The size means that it fits well on a desk, even a small one, and can stand or lay down, for use in nearly any situation where you want portable audio sans ear buds. The Sound Dock comes with a carrying bag to protect it from scratches when not in use.
Attaching the Shuffle to the Sound Dock is done by simply plugging it into the USB port in between the two speakers on the unit. There’s plenty of space to get the unit into the connection, even with larger fingers. The connection is snug, but not overly tight so that detaching the Shuffle is simple, but it won’t fall out on it’s own. One thing to note is that the Shuffle must be powered on independently of the Sound Dock for the audio to play.
The sound of the Sound Dock comes from two 33mm, 4 ohm speakers with neodymium aluminum speaker cones. While this unit is designed with the lower price point, portable audio user in mind, the Sound Dock has some pretty good volume capability. I found that at 90% of maximum volume, it adequately filled my small 1 bedroom apartment with sound. While it surely isn’t meant to replace a standard shelf stereo system, for small spaces the Sound Dock ample power. Outside, the unit would work well for personal listening or even small picnics, but doesn’t have the power to overcome the ambient noises of a city street, or most busy settings.
The Sound Dock is also flexible in terms of connectivity, in that it comes with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio-in cable, allowing the unit to be attached to the any audio input device with an audio “headphone” port. I connected the Sound Dock to the headphone jack on my DVD player, and got adequate, if not overpowering sound. The unit comes supplied with an AC adapter and can also be powered by 4x AA batteries. The advantage of using the AC adapter when possible is that the Sound Dock acts as a battery charger for the Shuffle plugged into it.
While the unit performed admirably there were a few flaws. Battery life seems to be a bit short, with only about 8 hours of life out of 4x AA batteries at about 75% volume playback. While this isn’t incredibly bad, it basically means 2 full days of audio will chew through an 8-pack of AA batteries. Also, at maximum volume, sound distortion can occur. I’m sure this is in part based on the quality of the audio input, or the MHz level of the MP3 being played. I experienced distortion at max volume with some songs, and not with others. Songs with heavier bass seemed more susceptible to this issue.
In conclusion, while the Sound Dock isn’t a replacement for your bookshelf speaker system, it is a way for you to fill an average sized room with sound from your Shuffle without taking up too much space or spending a lot of money.
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