By Nate Adcock on Wed, 11/23/2011
Speakal has some of the more interesting audio products available for iPhone, and iPod. I have written about several on our blogs, and in terms of quality, have found them a decent product for the price. Maybe not in the same class as say the Sonos or iHome audio products like the iW1 we've reviewed, but they still produce a good sound. Speakal has the market nearly cornered in unique and eye-catching designs with clever features (see my review of the motion-sensing, rechargeable iPig). If you want a sound dock that simply looks good, sounds good, and doesn't break the bank, the iKurv is a good pick--which, by the way, will also push composite video from your iPod/iPhone to a TV or monitor.
The sleek tube design of the iKurv does not have much to do with the overall acoustics that the unit produces, which is kind of a shame because it looks a little like a horn instrument. The speakers are mounted at the very end of the tubes, so I doubt there is much effect. Might have been interesting if they had been positioned further inside the tubes. For a small portable hard-plastic dock, it sounds good anyway. Some 20W of output, and a frequency response range of 90Hz and 20KHz.
Like many Speakal designs, the iKurv is supposed to work with practically any iPod and the latest iPhone versions. I did have some trouble with my iPod touch 4 mounting for some reason (happens with many docks). I ended up using an adapter I keep around for this reason (from RadTech).
The included remote covers the main functions of play/pause, volume and menu navigation, but I really couldn't get any controls other than play/pause and volume to do anything with my iPods. The iKurv comes with a pack of molded base adapters for several models including the iPhone (but none for iPod touch 4).
There are tiny volume and power buttons on the base itself, so you can still at least play music without the remote. On the back, you'll find a composite video port, and a 3.5mm aux-in jack. I tested sending audio in from my HP TouchPad, and seemed to work reasonably well. I connected it to my TV, and was able to project a signal from my iPod touch. All my iPods would indicate an error saying the accessory wasn't compatible, but it charged and played music connected to any of them. There were some issues. After resetting a few times, they would suddenly work, which was pretty wonky.
The iKurv is in the $70-80 range, and thus it's made of a lighter weight plastic, but still sounds surprisingly good. Like other Speakal docks, it does well even at high volume, though there really isn't much bass response. I think it's a good all-round cheaper alternative to the iPig, but not nearly as flexible or flashy. If you don't want to shell out a little more for the iPig, then it's a good second choice. The vendor needs to test and fix the unreliable controls and remote. I don't know why it gave me so much trouble, but it could have potentially been isolated to only the review unit. Once I got it playing, it was mostly fine. You can grab the iKurv here at the Speakal site.
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