By Mike Riley on Thu, 11/07/2013
Nearly all of the IK Multimedia products I have reviewed in the past were primarily designed for musicians. While some of their hardware and applications may have uses beyond the intended performer market, the company’s design philosophy has always been to put the musician front and center. While the iLoud ($299.99) continues to embody those design guidelines, its hardware specifications and capabilities will definitely raise the interest of both musicians and non-musicians alike. Let’s take a closer look at why this is the case.
At first glance, the iLoud appears to be just another wireless Bluetooth speaker, with an additional jack for microphone or guitar cable hook-up. Not until you pair it with an iOS device and play audio through it do you realize that the iLoud is something well beyond this categorical generalization.
iLoud delivers this clear and powerful 40W of awesome stereo audio via four Class-D amplifiers and speakers that supply a wide dynamic range (50Hz to 20Hz frequency response). There’s even a gain knob on the rear panel that allows you to further tweak the sound for even more control.
Besides the incredible audio capabilities, the iLoud also includes a built-in iRig circuit for guitar or microphones. This circuit ties directly into IK’s AmpliTube or VocaLive applications respectively. There’s also a standard TRRS audio input jack for times when Bluetooth isn’t supported, available, or preferred. In addition to being a wireless speaker, iLoud uses rechargeable Li-Ion batteries for standalone operation. During my high volume testing, I was able to blast out audio for just under two and a half hours before the batteries died. IK advertises the battery can deliver up to 10 hours of operation under “normal” usage scenarios.
While the audio quality is impeccable and the built-in iRig feature is a choice addition, there are just a few minor quibbles I have with this exciting first generation product. Given how some musicians may use the iLoud in a completely wireless way for use in small venues where a power outlet might not be easily accessible, it would be really helpful to know the remaining percentage of battery charge available. Perhaps iLoud 2 can include a battery charge bar that quickly shows on the speaker itself how much battery charge is left.
Another minor omission from the package is a protective sleeve or carrying case. iLoud clocks in at roughly 10 inches across by 6 and a half inches high and a little more than 2 inches deep, and weighs around 2 pounds. At that size and weight, it’s a bit large to fit in a gig bag. And even if it did, its surface would be battered by other items knocking into it. Personally, I will wrap the iLoud in an old pillow case before I take it on the road so I don’t ding the surface or dent the speaker grills with inadvertent bangs and drops.
But these two omissions are minor compared to the phenomenal sound and volume that emanate from this surprisingly small speaker package. IK Multimedia’s iLoud offers one of the loudest, clean-sounding wireless Bluetooth speakers available today that will unquestionably appeal to both musicians and non-musicians alike.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars