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Klipsch iGroove HG Speaker System Review

by March 07, 2007
Klipsch iGroove HG

Klipsch iGroove HG

  • Product Name: iGroove HG Speaker System
  • Manufacturer: Klipsch
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: March 07, 2007 11:25
  • MSRP: $ 249.99
  • Buy Now

Frequency Response: 65 Hz - 17 kHz

Max Acoustic Output: 98 dB SPL @ 1m

Crossover Frequency: 2.9 kHz

Tweeter: 1.0-inch tweeter

High Frequency Horn: MicroTractrix™ Horn

Midrange: 2.5" woofer

Amplifier: Class D

Enclosure Material: ABS plastic enclosure/dock and remote

Enclosure Type: Tuned port

Inputs: iPod docking connector Stereo mini auxiliary input J-Cup adaptor (included, uses mini auxiliary input)

Dimensions: 5.5” x 16” x 6.5”

Weight: 4.6 lbs

Features: IR remote, iPod ® docking station with charger

Finishes: Black high-gloss paint

Voltage: 120v

Pros

  • Incredible styling – best looking product of its kind on the market
  • Includes universal adaptor so it can be used with any iPod or portable MP3 player on the market
  • Deep bass and clean, pure Klipsch sound

Cons

  • Bass can be boomy when used in a corner
  • Remote control ergonomics could be improved
  • Remote does not control all iPod menu functions
  • No MUTE button

 

Klipsch iGroove HG Setup and Using the System

This year Klipsch celebrates its 60th anniversary.  They have built a company that caters to a specific customer, and they gear their products towards this customer rather than worrying about what trend might be hot in the marketplace.  The release of iGroove HG follows this philosophy.  They did not rush an iPod product to market, but instead took time to develop a quality digital music player-driven speaker system that would appeal to the Klipsch fan base – a true two-way design utilizing woofers, crossovers and horn-loaded tweeters.  The result is a slick little shelf system with the widest frequency response of any all-in-one system of its kind on the market today.

iGroove HG angledMy review actually began months ago in the Apple Store, where I listened to several shelf systems designed for iPods.  There were units from Bose and JBL set up on either side of the iGroove HG.  I cued up the same song on all three products and began my own little shoot-out right there in the store.  The iGroove HG was a clearly superior product, but it fell into the same price range as the others.  It was then I decided I needed to get one home to listen to in an “everyday life” setting.  If you have ever been into an Apple Store, you know how loud and busy they are.  If this thing sounded this good in a noisy retail environment, imagine what it would sound like in my office!

Set Up & Build Quality

accessoriesUnpacking the iGroove HG, I was immediately struck by how simple the product was.  In the box you will find the main unit, a remote, power cord, and adaptors for different iPod models, as well as a universal J-cup adaptor.  Set-up is as easy as choosing the proper iPod adaptor, inserting the iPod, and then plugging the unit into the wall.

This product looks fantastic.  It has lines like a Porsche – killer design with plenty of curves.  The unit is a deep glossy black – it almost looks wet, like a great wax job on a sports car.  This is not something you want to hide from view – it begs to be put front and center on your shelf.  People will want to touch it.

The rear of the unit is very clean. There is a small handle built into the rear of the unit, a connection for the DC-in cord, and a very small port.  The substantial metal grille will not dent or ding easily.  The weight of the unit combined with three wide rubber feet keep it very stable.  It feels rock solid.  The overall result is a very high build quality.

Using the System – Controls

rear viewHit the power button on the iGroove HG, and then hit play on your iPod or the included remote, then adjust the volume.  That’s it.  It is that simple. This is a true plug-and-play product, ready to go straight out of the box.  Which is exactly how a product in this category should be.  The only buttons on the iGroove HG are the power and volume buttons.  The power button glows red when off, green when on.  At first, the system did not seem to remember the volume setting last used after powering off.  Each time I turned it on, the volume returned to a default level. After speaking with Klipsch, we found that the unit does remember the volume setting last used in certain circumstances.  The volume level is split into three ranges: low, medium and high. If the unit is anywhere in the middle range when turned off, it will remain at that exact level when turned back on. If the unit is anywhere in the low or high levels, the extremes, it will default to the middle range when turned on. As much as I love the simple, uncluttered design, I would like to have seen a MUTE button on both the remote and the front of the unit.

Remote Control

remote controlThe remote is odd shaped, very small and lightweight.  I would not mind the shape of the remote if it were oriented differently.  It would be easier to grip if were turned around, with the wide end in your hand and the narrow end pointing towards the unit.  The remote is not backlit.  There are only 6 buttons:  power, play/pause, volume up, volume down, track forward, track back. 

Another complaint I have with the remote is that it is very limited in its ability to control the functions of the iPod.  For example, when you press the power button on the remote it turns on the unit.  You can then press the play/pause button and it will begin to play the first song on your iPod.  Next you can use the track forward or track back button to move through songs.  But you cannot, without walking over to the unit and using the controls on your iPod, navigate through your playlists, or search for a certain song by album, title or artist.  My suspicion was that this functionality would add a significant cost to the unit. 

I spoke with Klipsch by phone, and they confirmed that this was the case, and they opted to keep the price down by not including this functionality.  For many users this will be a secondary system – for an office, bedroom, kitchen, etc.  In these scenarios, you probably will not use the remote much anyway. 

docked iPodAlthough the system is clearly designed for the Apple’s iPods, it is important to note that Klipsch has provided a universal adaptor so that you can connect any source via the included J-cup and mini-plug.  The adaptor slides into the unit in place of the iPod adaptors and has a short cord with a mini-plug.  It is very functional and keeps the sleek look of the iGroove HG intact.  Klipsch pointed out to me that most products in this category are built exclusively for the iPod, but the J-cup adaptor sets the iGroove HG apart, making it a truly universal product.  And I agree that this adds flexibility that many similar products do not have.  It allowed my wife to connect her iPod shuffle (which is NOT a docking iPod) to the system.

Klipsch iGroove HG Listening Tests and Conclusion

Klipsch iGroove HGI spent several weeks listening to a diverse selection of music in a wide variety of locations.  I was immediately struck by the fact that while the unit sounds good almost anywhere, the placement can have a dramatic effect on the sound quality.  One thing you will not find lacking in this unit is bottom end.   Very punchy and rich, the lows that this thing generates will have you scratching your head.  I do NOT suggest putting the unit in a corner of a small room.  I tried this in our master bathroom, putting it in the corner on the countertop near the sink.  The bass was just way too boomy.  (And I don’t know about you, but my bathroom is boomy enough…)

I found the best sound came when listening to the unit from across a room.  This held true in my family room (large) as well as my office (small – the secret underground lair that houses the extension offices of the Audioholics Empire is not as large as you might think…yet.)  When placed on a table or shelf, about a foot or so from the wall, the iGroove spreads out and sounds incredibly full and detailed.  It will play pretty loud considering how small it is, delivering quite a respectable groove.  But I found that I enjoyed it even more at lower levels.  Acoustic music such as John Hiatt’s Crossing Muddy Waters sounded amazing even when turned down low.  The rich fidelity was really surprising.  That’s where I think this product shines.  It is much more authentic sonic experience than you would expect from a small iPod-based music system.  But don’t limit it to music.  I listened to podcasts such as ESPN’s PTI and KCRW’s The Treatment, and they sounded fantastic.

Conclusions and Overall Perceptions

In talking with Klipsch about this product, we discussed that while you hate to think that the iPod would be the center of someone’s audio system, today’s reality is that for many people, it is.  With that in mind, Klipsch has designed a product that seeks to make the most out of the situation, providing people with a very high quality audio option that combines the classic Klipsch sound with the modern convenience of an iPod (or similar personal MP3 player)-driven compact speaker system.  And they have succeeded.  This product is a perfect solution for Audioholics looking for a compact audio solution for an office or bedroom.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Audio PerformanceStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
FeaturesStarStarStarStar
Remote ControlStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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Over the years J. has constantly found himself to be an "early-adopter," spending way too much money on "new" technologies such as Compact Disc, LaserDisc, and DVD. He is one of the few people who actually purchased (and still owns) a CORE programmable remote control (bonus points if you remember this product).

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