For the last few years, I’ve been on a seemingly endless quest to find the perfect Bluetooth speaker. Some suffer from weak sound, others distort at higher volumes, and then there’s problems with battery life. While I’ve checked out lots of speakers, none have caught my attention or offered the same combination of features as the iLoud from IK Multimedia. That begs the question, could this be the perfect Bluetooth speaker?
The iLoud Bluetooth studio monitor ($299.99 from IK Multimedia) is, what I would consider, a medium sized Bluetooth speaker, with big speaker sounds. It features 40 Watt of audio excellence, and is capable of going up to 11, blazing past most other speakers of a similar size.
The iLoud isn’t just a powerhouse Bluetooth speaker, though. Hiding within it’s cool design is IK Multimedia’s iRig technology, which allows you to plug a guitar or other 1/4″ instrument or microphone into the iLoud, and connect it to your phone, and fire up your favorite audio app (GarageBand, iRig Recorder, Amplitube, etc.) and the iLoud will pass your sound into the iPad (or iPhone/Mac/Android device) for effect processing, and blast the sound back out it’s pair of speakers.
For guitar and microphone amplification, the iLoud didn’t appear to present any noticeable latency, and the sound was accurate. This can no doubt be credited to the speakers, enclosure, and tuning of the device to deliver accurate, rich sound with any instrument or genre of music.
Using the iLoud as a Bluetooth speaker is also a great experience. Pairing is extremely easy, with a clear Bluetooth pairing button the back of the unit, and once paired, hitting play on a few of my favorite tracks immediately filled the room with sound. Bass was clear and crisp, cymbals and synths were bright, but not piercing or offensive, and mids stayed clean and mixed in well.
One drawback of the iLoud in comparison to other Bluetooth speakers is that it uses a proprietary charging plug, and not the typical microUSB. This means that a traditional power outlet is necessary to recharge, and juicing up with your favorite external power block isn’t an option. Fortunately, after more than 8 hours of listening, the iLoud was still going strong for me, reinforcing that it’s 10-hours of battery life is certainly attainable, even at higher volumes.
From a grab-and-go perspective, the iLoud is definitely not pocketable, nor something you’d likely carry in hand, but could be comfortably transported in a backpack. The face of the unit measures similarly to that of an iPad, and the entire box is just 2.3in. (6cm) deep. For me, this wasn’t a deal breaker, as I mostly used it in and around our house, which is how I assume most people would use a speaker of this size, but that doesn’t restrict it from being portable should the need arise.
Verdict: [Rating: 4.5]
The iLoud isn’t the smallest or most portable Bluetooth speaker you’ll encounter on your quest for the perfect speaker, but the trade-offs are well worth it. The integrated iRig Guitar pass through, on device control, overall sound quality, and the capability to get quite loud without distortion make it an awesome Bluetooth or wired speaker.
While the price may be a little steep for some people, if you’re an aspiring guitarist and are already using an iPad or iPhone, it makes an awesome practice amp and could even work for playing coffee shops or other quiet venues. For those looking for a nice at-home speaker, the iLoud would serve as a great Bluetooth speaker for filling a room, whether you’re blasting that new KONGOS album or just want to create a little ambiance for your next gathering.
- Integrated iRig instrument interface
- Cool design
- Excellent sound quality
- Great battery life
- Non-standard charger
Whatever the situation, the iLoud is an excellent Bluetooth speaker option around the house, in the office, or on a coffee shop stage. Pick up your iLoud ($299.99) or get all the technical details over on IK Multimedia’s website.