Chicago Tribune writer: ‘Don’t be duped’ by Apple’s iPod Hi-Fi

“There’s a maxim in the fashion industry that says customers are willing to pay extra for a hot brand name,” Eric Benderoff writes for The Chicago Tribune. “Now Apple Computer Inc. is adopting the fashion strategy by putting a high price tag and its highflying brand on an iPod speaker system that is at best a “me-too” product in an already crowded field. For a price ($349) more expensive than all but the biggest iPod, Apple is promoting these portable speakers as a replacement for traditional home sound systems, which Apple calls ‘a huge stack of speakers’ in sales material. Don’t be duped.”

“To be sure, there is a lot to like about Apple’s speaker system. The iPod Hi-Fi is a model of Apple’s famed design efficiency… It’s all very nice and very Apple. Except for one problem: It sounds lousy. That’s lousy in relative terms. Before any comparison tests, I thought the sound was adequate for a portable speaker system. I knew I was listening to a compressed sound file played through speakers. This is not ideal for enjoying music out loud, and my low expectations were met,” Benderoff writes. “So here’s a better idea. Take the $349 Apple wants for the iPod Hi-Fi and spend some of it on a pair of good headphones. You’ll hear the difference. Then go to Target or RadioShack and buy a cheap set of external speakers to play your music out loud. You won’t hear the difference–and you’ll have money left over.”

Full article here.

Apple’s brand new iPod Hi-Fi speaker system. Home stereo. Reinvented. Available now for $349 with free shipping.
Apple’s new Mac mini. Intel Core, up to 4 times faster. Starting at just $599. Free shipping.
MacBook Pro. The first Mac notebook built upon Intel Core Duo with iLife ’06, Front Row and built-in iSight. Starting at $1999. Free shipping.
iMac. Twice as amazing — Intel Core Duo, iLife ’06, Front Row media experience, Apple Remote, built-in iSight. Starting at $1299. Free shipping.
iPod Radio Remote. Listen to FM radio on your iPod and control everything with a convenient wired remote. Just $49.
iPod. 15,000 songs. 25,000 photos. 150 hours of video. The new iPod. 30GB and 60GB models start at just $299. Free shipping.
Connect iPod to your television set with the iPod AV Cable. Just $19.

Related articles:
Time Magazine’s Gadget of the Week: Apple iPod Hi-Fi – March 13, 2006
CNET: Apple iPod Hi-Fi is a ‘box of delights’ – March 09, 2006
Detroit Free Press: Apple’s new iPod Hi-Fi delivers ‘powerful, room-filling sound; mighty tempting’ – March 07, 2006
PC Magazine Editor’s Choice: Apple iPod Hi-Fi ‘this one’s a winner’ (4.5 stars out of 5) – March 04, 2006
Review: Apple iPod Hi-Fi – March 03, 2006
The Inquirer reports on attack of Apple cultists, blames MacDailyNews for inciting ’email fatwa’ – March 03, 2006
CSFB: Apple iPod Hi-Fi a harbinger of things to come – March 02, 2006
Inquirer writer: Apple Mac, iPod users are gullible saps – March 02, 2006
Apple iPod Hi-Fi photos from all angles – March 01, 2006
Videos of Steve Jobs introducing Mac mini, iPod Hi-Fi – March 01, 2006
Apple debuts iPod Hi-Fi speaker system, leather cases for 5G iPod, iPod nano – February 28, 2006


  1. Here’s a tip for the writer: don’t buy an iPod! Buy a $45 cheap Korean player (crappy sounding headphones included) and you’ll have money left over.

    Then borrow your friend’s iPod, compare the difference and jump in the nearest lake!

    MDN:”Longer” as in NO LONGER crappy sound in my ears or in my house!

  2. I tend to agree, this speaker smacks of ‘conspicuous consumption’, ‘keep up with the Jones’ mentality, I’m lovin my 99.00 dollar Klipschs’, or if they didn’t exist the M-Audio 99.00 studio monitors would propably work just fine. The RDF didn’t, in this case, penetrate my awareness.

  3. Two points

    You can tell you are listening to a compressed sound file ONLY on a good quality sound system. You can’t find the flaws easily on a cheap system.

    Also, one advantage is that this speaker system will work on Batteries and you can take it to the park or beach with you. He fails to point out that one important detail.

    Don’t get me wrong, I personally care for the system, but I don’t like this kind of reporting from someon who claims to be an expert.

  4. Anecdotal “gee, that sounds X” reports of sound equipment are always useless. Sound is very subjective and vulnerable to the placebo effect.

    No matter who the listener is, it’s necessary for comparative sound tests to be blind. The non-blinded opinion of some random columnist’s wife is doubly irrelevant.

    Also, in this case, if he was so worried about compression artifacts, why didn’t he encode the CD in Apple Lossless? This test turned out to be more a review of whatever encoding he used, and has little to do with the quality of the Hifi.

  5. The guy’s right. $349 is way too much money. Plus the market is already flooded with this crap. Too bad, nobodies perfect. Apple blew it on this one. It’s pretty funny watching everyone eat it up though.

  6. I bet this author has never actually played with the HiFi or has really poor hearing or both.

    If you’re after a big pile of entertainment sound system, check out how much home theater you can buy at Walmart from big brands like Sony and Panasonic. Giant sub, lots of speakers, cool looking receiver/DVD player, lots of bass whomp…. all for well under $349.

    But if you want a compact system that sounds great, supports the iPod, is easy to use and runs on batteries or AC, the HiFi is very nice. I’ve listened to it several times at our local Apple store and I want one but I don’t need one.

    I have a compact pair of eight inch two way monitors that sound fantastic. You can get similar LOOKING speakers that sound very good for a much lower price but I wanted these, they cost $5000 a pair and are made by a small company called Meyer Sound. I could have bought over 12 pairs of M-Audio monitors for the price of my HD-1’s.

    Some people hear things differently. Value is in the ears of the beholder.

    The author of this article probably needs to get a hearing test asap.

  7. G Spank:

    MDN posts only the poorly-researched or poorly-written negative Apple coverage. Stuff that the sheep can tear apart even their dull wits.

    iHiFi is an OVERPRICED PAIR OF NOT-QUITE-STEREO SPEAKERS. That’s it. If they sound great, they’re overpriced. If they sound okay, they’re EXTREMELY overpriced.

    Despite Steve’s inexplicable references to the handles and “just pop 6 D-Cells in there and take it to the cabana,” this thing is not portable. It’s 15-17 fricking pounds. You need a cabana boy to carry it to the cabana, and you have to drop $30+ (the price of a cheap pair of actually portable speakers) on batteries.


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