Pros: sound quality, the way the iPod sits in the dock, ease of use
Cons: could have a radio tuner
I’ve had my Bose SoundDock Docking Station for my iPod a few years now. It sits nicely on a shelf in the living room and had basically replaced having an entire stereo system.
Along comes the Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System. The concept is similar to the Bose player, with a quality speaker system designed to allow me to use it to replace the stereo system by using the iPod to play my CD collection. My husband was impressed because Kicker was the name for auto speakers when he was younger and everyone was trying to out-blast each other from their cars.
OUT OF THE BOX
The Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System is designed to sit on a shelf. It’s a bit bigger than the Bose Docking Station, both in height and width. The kicker is 8 1/2 inches high and about twenty inches wide. It feels lighter than the Bose Docking Station, however, and weighs just under ten pounds.
Setting it up is easy. There’s a two-part power cord that’s easy to plug in. A multitude of adapters for every type of iPod comes with it as well. The battery is already inside the remote included with the Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System, making it almost a plug in and play situation.
The design of the Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System is a bit better as the iPod sits between the two speakers, and is somewhat sheltered from being knocked around, rather than sitting out in front of the speakers. This can be a concerned if the unit is being used in a place where it could get knocked into or animals jump. I like this design. It also serves to charge the iPod when it’s in the dock.
The speakers are also much more distinctive, with speakers on either side of the unit. It greatly resembles a boom-box. A control knob sits in the middle above the docking station for the iPod. I do like the knob design better than the + and - volume control on the Bose unit. In addition, the knob also controls the treble and bass settings for the sound.
There is a handle on the back, so it can be grabbed easily to move wherever you might want it to go. However, since the Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System doesn’t work on batteries and needs to be plugged in, I don’t really understand the point. To me, it’s a shelf system. Perhaps in the future other models will work off of either batteries or electric.
There’s also a jack in the back (and a cord included) to connect the audio output from other mp3 players and your personal computer to the Kicker. Theoretically, I could just run the wire from my PC with iTunes on it to the back of the Kicker and have the same capabilities as I have when the iPod is in the dock, only with much more to choose from to listen to.
Once I had my iPod Nano firmly in place on the Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System, I used the remote to select songs. This works well as the remote with the Kicker handles the iPod perfectly. It makes it easy to place the unit on a high shelf and just use the remote to change the songs around. That is, if you can read the menu settings on your iPod from that distance.
The sound blew me away when I heard it. Kicker states to turn off the equalizer on the iPod when using the Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System. I found it worked well either way and didn’t notice that one way was much better than the other. The bass tones were full and rich, enough to make my windows vibrate with the volume way up. I didn’t keep the volume up that high as the sound was just as rich and powerful at lower settings.
I have a few pod casts on my iPod and the vocal settings were just as good as the music. The voices didn’t become distorted but seemed to adjust themselves perfectly. This would be a great way to listen to audio books as well as music.
One thing that’s missing to make this complete for me is a radio tuner. Although I confess that I don’t listen to the radio as much as I used to , it would be nice as that would be a way to completely replace any need for a stereo system.
BOSE vs. KICKER
I compared the sound of the two units. As much as I have loved my Bose SoundDock Docking Station these years, the Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System simply blows it away. I tested three songs one after the other on the two units, Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, Styx’s Come Sail Away, and Power Station’s Some Like It Hot. The Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System delivered much better sound each time. Especially on Whole Lotta Love, I could hear the bouncing of the notes back and forth much more distinctly than I could on the Bose Docking Station. In addition, I found that in comparing the two there were times that the Bose sounded tinny in spots where the Kicker didn’t. I also noticed more distortion and vibration present in the Bose unit at higher volumes than I did with the Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System.
I’ll get what I don’t like out of the way first. I want a radio tuner. The black plastic housing doesn’t have a heavy feel to it. While this might be good for portability, it doesn’t give me confidence in its sturdiness. And if Kicker is going for portability, why not have it capable to run off of batteries?
What’s most important to me is the sound. Simply put, it’s awesome. I’ve been listening to the Bose for several years and been satisfied with what I was hearing until now. Kicker lives up to the reputation it’s had for years in terms of car audio with this foray into the home audio market. If I were purchasing a new iPod Docking Station/Speaker System, my choice would be the Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System.
I received the Kicker iK500 iPod Speaker System from SCC Grossman free of charge in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion, which I have given above.
My iPod & iPod-Related Product reviews:
2nd Generation 2gb iPod Nano Silver ~ 3rd Generation iPod Nano ~ 4th Generation iPod MP3 Player ~ 5th Generation 30gb Video iPod ~ Bose SoundDock Docking Station for iPod ~ zCover micro3 Silicon Case
© 2008 Patti Aliventi