I’ve been fortunate to spend the last couple weeks hanging out with IK Multmedia’s iLoud bluetooth speaker/monitor. This is the first part of a 2 part review and will feature the basic information and usage as a Bluetooth device. Look for part 2 within the next couple weeks.
Packaging and contents were straight forward. The iLoud came with a with a 3.5 mm male/male connector and a 2 part charger (14.4v, 2500 mA) with ‘Fullpower®’ branding and made by Shenzhen Yingyuan Electronics (szyingyuan.com). A small user manual, a registration card, and of course the iLoud (also made in China, designed in Italy) were provided as well. The iLoud felt sturdy and solid with no loose parts or anything that made me feel like this was anything but a quality product.
Setup was very simple but I had to wait for a while for the device to charge because, according to the Quick Start Guide, they “recommend fully charging… iLoud the first time you use it.” The LED on the back of the device indicates where you are in the charging cycle (orange while in progress and green when done). Pretty simple but with a 2 hour charge time, it does not have to be all that complex. Setting up Bluetooth was as simple as I could want and is illustrated in the GIFs below.
For this section, I’m comparing the iLoud vs the 2 of what i consider to be main competitors for this level of device; the BIG Jambox and the Bose Soundlink.
|iLoud (source)||Bose SoundLink III (source)||Bose SoundLink II (source)||BIG Jambox (source)|
|Battery Life||Up to 10*||Up to 14 hrs||Up to 8 hrs||Up to 15 hrs|
|Weight||2.9 lb / 1.33 kg||3.03 lbs / 1.37 kg||2.9 lb / 1.32 kg||2.7 lb / 1.23 kg|
|Dimensions HxWxD||16 cm x 25 cm x 6 cm||13.15 cm * 25.6 cm * 4.8 cm||12.95 cm x 24.38 cm x 4.83 cm||9.3 cm x 25.6 cm x8cm|
* site says at max volume battery life is more like 3 hours. Once you hear it, you’ll know why.
The one main difference, and this is for you musicians out there – the iLoud is not only Loud but it does integrate with super cool IK Multimedia musician software – (only one)
Regarding output (Watts) for the competition, this is not a stat that’s readily available on the manufacturer websites. I can tell you in practice that the iLoud blows the doors off the Jambox and the SoundLink II (did not test the III). Playing different songs on each and turning up the volume all the way on all 3 devices, I can hear the iLoud clearly above the others. Sure, there’s a cacophony of noise but the difference is CLEAR.
The set up and usage of the device is very simple. For basic Bluetooth connectivity, all you have to do is charge it up, turn it on and press the Bluetooth pairing button. You can then manually adjust the volume using the large knob on the front of the device PLUS you can control via your phone. If you want to max out the out put you’d crank your phone volume all the way up and turn the knob on the iLoud until it blinks. Then you’re blowing out your eardrums. Seriously, it’s quite loud and not really needed unless you’re in a large area and are sending your music to a sizable audience. What I loved the most about the iLoud was the clarity of the sound and the clear bass. I thought the Jambox sounded good before this but the iLoud really supports the lows better than either the Soundlink II and the big Jambox. It’s not that either of the others sound bad, the iLoud just does a really nice job of supporting a nice range of sound and includes strong lows. While the iLoud is very easy to use and understand, I wouldn’t mind having some additional visual indicator that told me the sound level. If you’re between zero and maxed out, you can’t really tell the volume level. To be safe, I turn it all the way down and then work up from there since I’ve surprised myself with a loud blast of sound once or twice during the review period. The Red light around the volume knob looks cool but if you have very large fingers you might have a little difficulty turning it. The volume knob is set in to the body and the bevel around the knob is not that deep and not all that wide (again, if you had large fingers).
The device feel sturdy as I mentioned earlier and sits at an angle when placed on a flat surface. The iLoud has a little kickstand on the bottom that gives it some extra stability as well. (see photo).
For the musician – using it with a guitar with Amplitube is also quite easy and we’ll get in to some detail about that in our next installment of the iLoud review. Basically, the built in iRig circuit turns this device in to a sweet and very flexible monitor for the mobile and tech savvy musician.
So – What does it cost? According to the IK Multimedia website the retail price is $299 and you can get them at many, many retailers. Check the site, they have a dealer locator. If you are in the market for a very loud, high quality blue tooth speaker – please be sure to add the iLoud to your consideration list. It’s the same price as the BIG Jambox and Bose offerings, it sounds fantastic and has extra functions for the mobile musician (iRig integration). I’ve been using IK products for the last couple years and have had no issues with them at all so I would highly recommend that you check them out.