Review by Andrew Kameka on Wednesday November 27, 2013.
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Speakers tend to come in one of two varieties: the high-quality stationary sound blasters or the more affordable portable sets that don't offer much in the way of sound fidelity. The iLoud Bluetooth speaker by IK Multimedia breaks those rules. It's a Bluetooth speaker aimed at musicians who wish to have studio-quality sound wherever they go, and that translates to music listeners benefitting from that set-up as well.
It makes sense that IK Multimedia would target musicians because the company has the iRig apps and several iPad, iPhone, and Android accessories aimed at creating music through mobile devices. You can see that influence with the inclusion of ports for line-in and guitar amps to hear crisp audio anywhere someone travels. I'm no guitar hero, so I didn't test that aspect of the iLoud. Instead, I focused on the experience as a person buying the speaker to enjoy music rather than create it. From that perspective, iLoud is a roaring piece of equipment. Despite its relative small size, iLoud is capable of projecting to a very high volume. It has 40W sound that can raise the decibels to the point that your entire room will ring with whatever audio you like. The four-speaker box worked perfectly well in my apartment and was loud enough to be clearly audible when listening outdoors in a local park.
Aside from the high level of volume, iLoud has high levels of quality as well. A device targeting musicians needs to play a full-range of audio, so the speaker is capable of playing the bass of a Dr. Dre song one minute and then have smoother quality for an Ella Fitzgerald song the next minute. Though the bass is tuned fairly well, some obsessive users might prefer it to be slightly heavier, so it helps if you play music through a smartphone app with equalizer settings. Otherwise, vocals and instruments sound remarkably clear. Many Bluetooth speakers have a tendency to be distorted or echoey when reaching high volumes, but iLoud sounds great for any genre of music. It's not quite on the level of larger systems like Sonos, but it's far more portable, requires less work, and outpaces most Bluetooth speakers that I've used.
IK Multimedia sells iLoud for $299, which might be an issue for many buyers. At that price, iLoud is about $50 more than the Jawbone Big Jambox and a little more than the Logitech UE Boombox. The extra money may be more than someone needs. All three speaker sets are capable of getting the job done, so the iLoud is more appealing as a way to get supreme sound quality for the form factor and the enhanced input options. The battery lasts 3 hours at maximum volume and 8 to 10 hours at more reasonable sound levels.
The iLoud has above average sound quality and a very light body, so it's worth having for someone who can justify the price. If you're tired of listening to music through your smartphone, or want to make watching a movie on a tablet have ear-rising sound, iLoud packs a lot of boom in a little box.
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.