Remote / Command Center
With any product, ease of control is a very important consideration both remotely or on the device itself. The iSonic 2 sports a small, but completely functional remote that is common for most compact music systems. It is sized similar to that of car stereo remotes and is only slightly bigger than a 3rd generation iPod Nano. Despite this, about every possible function can be controlled (except audio adjustments) from the remote at a tested range of at least 15-20 feet. It is lightweight (but sturdy) and fits easily in the palm of your hand. The layout is typical, with power and inputs near the top, volume channel and device controls in the middle and secondary uses (in this case alarm controls) at the bottom.
The command center on the iSonic is also very well done, with buttons that are flush with the surface and very clearly marked. At first glance, the buttons appear to mimic that of a standard clock radio, but a closer look reveals that they are actually the nerve center for the iSonic 2. All functionality can be controlled from these buttons including power, clock options, source, video, audio and adjustment levels. This is a solid inclusion, as too many audio devices rely on the remote for some exclusive functions, especially with the compact size of the iSonic 2’s remote as it is highly susceptible to getting lost. The only issue I encountered was that the smaller buttons of the Command Center felt a bit “loose” under my fingers, but they did their job every time and this did not seem to be a long-term issue.
The fist step with any audio product is to get the power cables and antenna hooked up to get some sort of sound. It actually took longer to unpackage these items than it did to plug into the back of the iSonic 2. The Power supply is external, so after connecting the two halves, it went into the 24V plug on the back and the AC outlet on the wall. The antennas were almost as easy, with the FM connected via coax and the AM via spring clips. One puzzler for anyone that hasn’t read up on the iSonic 2 capabilities may involve the presence of composite and S-Video outputs on the unit? Well, the answer is that it can output video from any iPod directly to a TV. So after downloading that episode of your favorite TV Show or purchasing a movie from iTunes, you can use the iSonic to display the video on any TV that accepts either of those inputs.
After getting the radio functional, I next turned my attention to hooking up my iPod Nano. On the top of the iSonic 2 is a small door that lifts up to expose the iPod dock and headphone jack. The dock is actually a protruding connector that is recessed into the chassis, but the iSonic 2 comes with six different plastic adapters to allow for any of the compatible iPod devices to sit comfortably and be supported in the dock. They are very easy to snap in to place and remove. Additional audio devices can be hooked up via the analog RCA-style jacks in the back, which allows for the connection of other MP3 players, game consoles, DVD players, camcorder audio, laptops and any other product that has a mini-plug out. You will need to purchase a mini-plug to RCA adapter (about $5) to hook up anything that has headphone jack but not analog audio outs.
Adjusting the audio is fairly easy, as the iSonic 2 shuns the more current approach of providing consumers with pre-programmed EQ settings and sticks to traditional stereo roots with the ability to only adjust the treble and bass. These adjustments are done exclusively via the command center buttons on top of the iSonic 2, where I went with my personal favorite of bass at 80% and treble at 60%.
As I completed the setup, it struck me as a missed opportunity with the lack of more than a single Auxiliary input. Yes there is an iPod dock, but the one analog (RCA) input doesn’t allow for more than a single game station, DVD player or other device to be hooked up at a given time. It would be possible to run the analog outs from a TV into the iSonic 2, but those can be limited (or non-existent) as well on older sets. With the potential that this unit posses to meet almost all audio needs, this is a small drawback from making it a great system.
As I progressed deeper into the set up of the iSonic 2, it became quite clear that this was a product that anyone could get working right out of the box. It took me just over 10 minutes to unbox, connect and make adjustments to tailor the iSonic 2 for my use. I am fairly experienced with the installation and setting up audio gear, but this was quick, concise and to the point easy that anyone with even a vague sense of what they are doing will be all set. Basically, if you have ever hooked up a home stereo, adjusted the settings on a car radio or set up an alarm clock, then you will be good. For those that haven’t, do not worry as the manual is very well put together and walks you through all aspects of set-up and adjustments.
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