Apple’s anemic iPad speakers can be improved for little money or lots of money depending on portability
At 3 AM a skunk let lose in our neighborhood. The fumes got into the air exchanger and we woke with a start thinking the house was on fire. The house was safe but our noses and eyes were burning.
I couldn’t get back to sleep. After watching a re-run of Ken Burn’s excellent history of baseball I settled in the kitchen on the iPad surfing for portable speakers.
Eureka, there is a cheap solution for better sound for music on the iPad (and iPod and iPhone). Connect the stereo headphone out port to a received or the Bose Sounddock Portable with a male-to-male mini-pin cable.
5 AM seemed like a bad time to test my discovery so I waited until 9 AM. Sure enough the iPad can drive a good sound system. My receiver didn’t have a mini-pin connector so I doubled it to a mini-pin to RCA pin connector.
I’ve been listening to the iPad music all morning. That’s a big improvement. It’s not as good as CDs or LPs. The dynamics seem squished and there isn’t any real low end bass. There is a sub-woofer on our system and it’s not getting a real workout from the iPad.
I’d rate using a home receiver or surround system somewhat disappointing since the system is capable of sounding better than the compressed audio files Apple dishes out on the iTunes store. They don’t promise high fidelity, after all these are portable mp3 players.
Being a nervous sort, I wish the cables had some isolation between devices to protect them from electrical glitches but no one worries about this is describing how to connect them. At least protect your iPad and speakers by turning them off before unplugging them.
The iPad can drive a Bluetooth wireless speaker system which means portable music for the deck, pool, or outdoors. The compromise in sound quality is going to be obvious. There is minimal realistic bass from small speakers. That being said, here are some of the popular choices.
Altec Lansing inMotion SoundBlade Bluetooth A2DP Speaker
Altec-Lansing offers reasonably easy Bluetooth connection plus two 2.5 inch speakers making this a popular choice. Amazon.com customers rate it 4 stars – “good but not great”. It uses 6 AA batteries or a wall adapter. There is also a mini-pin connector for non-Bluetooth mp3 players. Priced on Amazon.com at $55.00
An innovative tubular speaker wins the design award. The two speakers are easily disconnected and connect with a wire to each. The speakers connect with one button to the iPad by Bluetooth. The connection is claimed to go 30 feet. The USB rechargeable batteries are rated at 4 hours. The IPEVO is available from Amazon.com who are acting as storefront for the direct sales site IPEVO.COM.
Cost $79.00. I couldn’t find any impartial reviews but this video may help.
There are also a few YouTube user reviews. The site offers a 30 day return policy whether you buy direct or through Amazon.com.
It definitely looks cool.
A good strategy would be to take your iPad / iPhone / iTouch to a Best Buy or Future Shop to try what they have in stock. Your reaction to the sound is your best judge.
In an accompanying article I will revisit using the Bose Sounddock Portable with the iPad.