Review: MacAlly IceTune

by on August 16, 2005

After spending $200 or more on an iPod, you might not have a lot of cash left over. There are plenty of iPod-specific speaker systems, often taking up little space, and offering a Dock Connector to charge your iPod and tap into the superior line-level signal, instead of the headphone jack. The problem is, many of these cost more than the iPod itself.

MacAlly’s IceTune speakers fit into a new category of iPod-specific speakers—the sub-$100 category. Priced around $70, they’re still more than generic speakers, but once you add the docking capabilities, the price seems a bit more realistic.

IceTune Stacked

IceTune Separated

IceTune Dock w/Adapters

IceTune Dock w/Adapters

The IceTune is a unique system, as many iPod-specific speakers, like the Altec Lansing inMotion are a one-piece unit. The IceTune is a three-piece arrangement—two satellite speakers and the dock.

The satellites are white plastic cylinders with white metal grills. The dock offers controls for power and volume, as well as connections on the back for each satellite. When powered on, a blue LED causes the bottom to glow, much like Griffin’s PowerMate. Thanks to interchangeable adapters, the dock works with any iPod with a Dock Connector (3G, 4G, photo, and mini). Earlier iPods, the iPod shuffle, and any other device with stereo output can use the 3.5mm auxiliary input jack, located on the side of the dock.

Besides the price, the other selling point of the IceTune is its unique design. You can achieve a similar setup with any speakers and an iPod dock from a usability standpoint, but the IceTune offers something more—stackability. Each component offers a molded hexagon which interlocks with the tops of each satellite, allowing you to separate all three components, stack them all, or create something in between. This will make many happy who only have a few inches to spare, although stereo separation is reduced.

One problem we found with every component of the system stacked, was that the iPod dock was easily knocked off the top (fortunately, our iPod was not harmed). Using the system in other configurations was trouble-free.

The speakers themselves sound pretty good, although they are a bit heavy on the treble, as opposed to more bass-heavy response of the inMotion. Distortion didn’t happen until we really cranked up the speakers, but they do a pretty good job of filling up any small- to medium-sized room with sound. Adjusting the equalizer settings on the iPod did help, but those who want more bass might want to look into systems with subwoofers.

The only other downside of the IceTune is the lack of a pass-through Dock Connector, like many other systems. This allows the iPod to sit in the speakers while being synchronized with a computer, especially if one decides to use the speakers near a computer.

Overall, the IceTune speakers are a very solid speaker system for the size and price. They’re great for the office, dorm room, bedroom, or other area that neither has a lot of free space for an audio setup, nor needs really loud sound. With their stackable design, you can position the IceTune in any way you prefer.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

The IceTune speakers are a suitable for anyone who’s on a tight budget, but still wants iPod-specific speaker systems.

Pros: Stackable design, half the price of competition, detachable speakers, auxiliary input, works with all iPods
Cons: Sound quality more treble-heavy, no pass-through Dock Connector, top-heavy if all speakers are stacked
Rating: 7/10

The Facts

Product: IceTune
Company: MacAlly
Platform: iPod (1* 2* 3 4 5 M N S*)
Price: $69.99 (list)

*must use auxiliary input

This post has been filed in iPod, Mobile Devices, Reviews