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Review - iCarrier Hi-Fi
Tuesday, April 18th, 2006 at 12:00 AM - by
Putting your iPod on a pedestal may sound like a metaphor, but for speaker maker Ignitek that idea translated into the iCarrier Hi-Fi, an extremely capable system that stands 38 inches tall.
The iCarrier ships in two parts: the head unit, comprising of the speakers, iPod dock, and controls; and the base unit, which houses a 5.25-inch subwoofer and power supply and accounts for most of the system's height. The head unit docks securely to the base unit with audio and power routed through an integrated USB connector.
A host of rubber molded parts ensure that your iPod rests snugly in the iCarrier, regardless of model. First- and second-generation iPods are also supported to an extentthey fit in the docking area, but connect via the auxiliary input (charging and controlling from the iPod from the remote are naturally out of the question).
The auxiliary input, featuring stereo RCA connectors, is compatible with any other device for that matter, but there's a caveat to connecting anything to the iCarrier that way: you won't be able to use your iPod when anything else is plugged in. The other device doesn't even need to be turned on, simply having a cable connected to the rear of the iCarrier overrides the iPod, plain and simple. Unplugging the audio cable from the rear is the only way to restore iPod support, so while the iCarrier Hi-Fi is capable of doing double-duty with anything else electronic that you own and produces audio, it doesn't do it very elegantly.
Fortunately for Ignitek and any future iCarrier Hi-Fi owners, that engineering oversight is more than compensated by the sheer performance of the system. Simply put, this thing rocks. The subwoofer delivers excellent punch for bass while the four stereo speakers and two tweeters balance out the mids and highs. Frequency response spans from 55Hz to 20KHz, and total RMS power is a sufficiently loud 45 watts.
Worded another way, we haven't found anything that sounds this good for $250 ($200 street price). In fact, the iCarrier Hi-Fi can hold its own against Apple's iPod Hi-Fi, which commands a hundred dollar premium, and offers far better room-filling sound than the Bose SoundDock. Granted, you'll never be able to take the iCarrier Hi-Fi with you to the beach or sit it on a night-stand, but the iCarrier Hi-Fi looks sharp and has a reasonable footprint of 10-inches by 14-inches.
With a passing glance the iCarrier Hi-Fi may seem cheap and gimmicky, but build quality is almost as sound as the performance. The remote control does feel a little cheap in hand and only delivers basic functionality, but does so with very good range. On the plus side the iPod mini-shaped controller is actually more comfortable than a lot of those tiny and flat credit-card sized remotes, so there's an upshot to the lack of elegance.
The Bottom Line
The iCarrier Hi-Fi looks good and sound even better. While the auxiliary input implementation is flawed and the remote control only basic, iPod owners who find that the setup complements their decor are sure to be satisfied by what their ears hear. With a street price under $200, the iCarrier Hi-Fi also serves up impressive value.
Just The Facts
Pros: excellent audio quality, rich bass, sharp one-of-a-kind design, good value
Cons: auxiliary input flawed, basic remote
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