mStation 2.1 Stereo Tower Review
- Product Name: 2.1 Stereo Tower
- Manufacturer: mStation
- Review Date: December 14, 2007 00:00
- MSRP: $ 299.95
5.25" Subwoofer, 4ohm
4 x 2" Midrange, 8ohm
2 x 1" Tweeter, 8ohm
Amplifier Output - Power:
Subwoofer: 30 W RMS @ 4ohm
LR Speakers: 2 x 15 W RMS @ 4ohm
Amplifier Input Sensitivity:
LR Speakers: 400mV±50mV
Subwoofer: 50Hz to 200Hz ± 5dB
LR Speakers: 200Hz to 20kHz ± 5dB
S/N Ratio (A-weighted): >70dB
THD (kHz, 1W): <0.5%
Channel Separation (1kHz): 40dB
Stereo Channel Balance: ±1dB
Inputs: iPod Dock Connector
USB Mini B
Stereo Mini Jack (3.5mm)
Supply Voltage: 120V AC
Height: 42.94 inches / 1090.6mm
Width: 13.78 inches / 350mm
Weight: 21 lbs. / 9.53 kg
Warranty: 1 Year Parts
90 Days Labor
- Lots of low-end extension
- Beautiful finish and elegant form factor
- Fits almost any style iPod or MP3 player
- Slick control surface
- USB and audio inputs
- Distorts at high volume
- Mediocre remote
- Poor stereo imaging
Gear Corner Review
It's hard to feel luke-warm about the iPod. You either hate it or love it. The hundreds of iPod-centric devices and gadgets which have hit the market in the past several years since the debut of the device has seen to that. I've seen many iPod speaker systems in my time, but none have had the sheer presence of the mStation. Far from catering to the unimposing and diminished size of the iPod, the 2.1 Stereo Tower presents itself as a domineering system that can still manage to hide itself away in a corner or against a wall without taking up too much space. Still, a 43-inch tall iPod music system is something you don't see every day - even in my line of work.
The system comes well-packed in a custom foam-formed container that separates and protects the main speakers by shipping them detached from the main system. This has the added effect of reducing the container height since the speakers stick up above the central tube which house both the electronics and integrated subwoofer. The speakers have three tabs which lock into the circular speaker tower bases and secure them while a center pin assembly makes the electrical connections. There are no wires or manual connections required. Once inserted, the speakers can be twisted at up to 45-degrees for custom adjustment of the stereo image. The 5.25-inch sub driver is parked right at the bottom of the center tube (reach down and you'll feel it) and seemed to have enough volume behind it to really pump out some deep notes.
The power cord is fully removable and plugs into the bottom left of the system, just adjacent to the main power switch. Four iPod docking cradles are included to accommodate the iPod video, iPod nano, iPod mini, iPod with dock connector and iPod photo. If you do not intend to use an iPod you can connect the included dust guard and rest another brand of MP3 player on top of the unit.
Using the System
After plugging in the 2.1 Stereo Tower and turning it on, I selected the iPod nano docking cradle and slipped it into the port. My nano slid easily into place and immediately allowed me to select and play music through the system. I found that I was able to control the volume as well as skip forward and back, pause, and play with the included remote. These mimicked the control buttons located on the surface of the deck surface of the Stereo Tower.
The remote also has very important Bass and Treble controls which can help tame a bit of the bottom end. The remote sensor is located on the front of the system, just below the Blue LED status indicator, making it easy to hit from almost any direction in the room. At times I missed the ability to control the iPod remotely to select more song options, however that would entail an entirely different product with some kind of video system or remote iPod docking device. The system didn't have much of a delay when being utilized, and pausing and restarting playback happened in a snappy manner. When adjusting volume, the status indicator flashed to indicate the volume was changing. It promptly stopped flashing once the upper or lower limits were reached.
You can connect a USB mini cable to the 2.1 Stereo Tower in order to sync music files to your iPod via iTunes without removing the unit from the tower. This is a bit awkward with the USB conenctor located on the top of the unit, but it at least presents an option if you happen to be walking by with a laptop... and an extra USB cable... or something like that. Plugging the system into my PC yielded an automatic detection of the iPod and a launch of the iTunes application which synced the updated music and allowed me to download the latest podcast of AVRant, the industry's best and funniest home theater talk show, which I listen to faithfully every week.
The system actually doesn't play all that loud, but this has the added effect of keeping it from getting too harsh at louder levels. While the audio quality suffered when cranked, it didn't go into an all-out meltdown distortion mode that I've heard from other systems where the speakers would completely break up. The mStation 2.1 Stereo Tower maintained its composure for the most part and behaved itself. I played a variety of music, mostly straight up MP3s I had ripped to 320kbps from CDs.I own. Some tracks sounded great while others made the overt bass emphasis of the system apparent. In terms of being pleasing, the mStation certainly was. Accurate is not a word I would use to describe it, however. I also felt after extended listening sessions that a way to turn down the subwoofer output would have been very welcome indeed. You definitely don't want to park this system in a corner unless you really want extra low-end in your music. For those curious about the capabilities of a tube-loaded 5.25-inch sub, our sweep tests indicated that the sub easily issued usable low frequency output down to its rated 50Hz limits.
I queued up some Jeremy Camp and played tracks like "Letting Go" and "Lay Down My Pride" from his Restored album which had a lot of bass and strong male vocals. It sounded nice and had a well-rounded punchiness that made the music pour out into the room with gusto. This is a great system to have in the office or a formal living room where you may entertain. Toad the Wet Sprocket gave tunes like "Walk on the Ocean" and "I Will Not Take These Things for Granted" some new life as they poured out of the satellite speakers and sub. Classics like Chicago's "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long" and Heart's "Alone" spilled into the room with a liveliness that was invigorating.
As I've stated to death, this is a fun system. Placement is crucial for keeping the bass in control, but overall this is simply an easy-to-use iPod sound system that will allow most users to dock and play. I could see this stereo system occupying many corporate offices in America, with the owner moving his iPod from the car to the top of the control panel deck to migrate music from the car to the workplace. At a retail price of $299 this isn't exactly the least expensive system we've come across, nor is it the best-sounding. It is, however, unique - and I suppose you can charge a premium for a design aesthetic that will be sure to please.
mStation 2.1 Stereo Tower
P.O. Box 364
Paw Paw, MI 49079 USA
The Score Card
At Audioholics Gear Corner we give you a quick but comprehensive look at consumer electronics from several different categories. All products in the Gear Corner have been individually evaluated through hands-on testing by our reviewers in order to give you a quick but detailed overview that we hope will help you in your purchasing decisions.