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Monitor Audio i-deck Review

by March 02, 2006
Monitor Audio i-deck

Monitor Audio i-deck

  • Product Name: i-deck
  • Manufacturer: Monitor Audio
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: March 02, 2006 19:00
  • MSRP: $ 349


  • Separate High Quality 2-way Speakers
  • Speakers are Threaded for Industry Standard Mounts
  • 30 pin connector port Enables Direct connection to Computer via USB or Firewire iPod Cable
  • 3.5mm Stereo Mini Auxiliary line input
  • Charging Station for iPod
  • Replaceable Bezel inserts
  • Remote Control Functions for iPod


  • Frequency response 75Hz- 25KHz (-3dB)
  • Speaker sensitivity 87dB (1W@1m on axis)
  • Maximum SPL 102 dBA
  • Output Power 18w/ch @ 0.05% THD (both channels driven)
  • Auxiliary input impedance > 10k Ohms
  • Auxiliary input sensitivity 600mV
  • Signal to noise ratio S/N 90dB (W/ A-weight)
  • A.C input 110V~ / 230V~
  • Adaptor output 13V~ / 3A


  • Quality Sound
  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Stylish Looks
  • Simple Operation


  • No External Tone Controls
  • Small But Not Portable
  • Your children and spouse will want one for their rooms


i-deck Build Quality and Setup

Consumer gadgets come and go but few have much of a lasting impression. Then there are those few that do. Like the Sony Walkman before it, the Apple iPod has achieved iconic status in our pop culture. Every student both young and old wants an iPod. Both of my children and my wife have one along with myself. We are a 4-iPod family. Forget just any MP3 player, they are a distant second and likely to remain there for some time. When something achieves the status level of the iPod, it creates a ripple effect in the aftermarket accessory marketplace. From FM transmitters to arm bands there is a plethora of merchandise one can go broke on after you have purchased your iPod. One such category is that of amplified speakers and docking stations. There are many to choose from, and like anything else, there are good ones and then there is junk. One of these that fall into the "good ones" category is the i-deck from Monitor Audio . Read on to get the details.

Description & Build Quality

Having not previously familiarized myself with Monitor Audio's i-deck, I was expecting just another run-of-the-mill amplified computer speaker setup. I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong. This was designed from the ground up to be truly integrated with the iPod. Build quality was excellent; fit and finish superb. My father, who is retired from the plastic mold industry, commented on this fact. With the high polished white and light grey this is a nice looking piece of gear. My wife, who has some sort of plastic addiction hated to see me box it back up when I was done. Included in the box were two speakers, the amplifier/docking station, AC adapter, five interchangeable bezels for every type of iPod, remote control, 3.5mm stereo mini cable for older iPods with no dock connector and other music players, a manual and a quick start guide.



Manual? Who needs a manual? Really, with the i-deck you won't need to bother. Setup was a snap, literally. After unpacking everything, I picked out the correct bezel for my iPod mini and snapped it into place on the amplifier section. I then attached the speakers with the included wires, attached the AC adapter and plugged it in.


All that was left was to set the iPod into the base and pick out a song. Setups don't get any simpler than this. Once you have a song playing you can use the remote. The remote gives you control over play/pause, volume, skip forward and backward. If you are one those technically challenged persons, then the quick start guide will get you on your way. Speaking of the manual - well lets just say it's a good thing that setup is so straightforward and leave it at that! It does include Russian though which I thought was kind of neat.


One really nice feature the i-deck has is the 30-pin connector port on the back. When you attach your iPod cable to this port and then to your computer, your iPod will mount and you can manage it with iTunes. This is very handy and turns the i-deck into a massive docking station. The speakers are also threaded for an optional mount, for those who may wish to do so. I was surprised to find that the speakers do not attach to the base and the AC adapter is a separate piece. Overall this is a nice compact unit, but because everything is separate it is not well suited for portability.

i-deck Listening Tests and Conclusion

To be subjective I listened to the i-deck with songs from my iPod that were encoded at 128kbps AAC format. That is the default setting for iTunes and all songs downloaded from the iTunes music store. I no doubt would have been able to improve the sound further by using a higher bit rate or even using Apple lossless format. But lets be honest; most people will never do that. If you are one who would, then what are you doing listening to an iPod anyway? Having said that I found that the i-deck sounded pretty darn good.

Bass was clean and while not being very low, it was certainly well balanced. Vocals were clear and avoided the boom box nastiness because the i-deck has real 2-way speakers with an actual crossover. Most products in this class usually have one full range driver or just a capacitor on the tweeter and let the woofer run full range. This is something I did not expect on a product of this type. The highs were clean and never shrill or raspy, but they seemed a little subdued to me. The i-deck has no external tone controls so any sound tailoring must be done via the iPod's EQ. A quick look at the specs shows an 18watt amp section claiming a maximum SPL of 102dba. I quick check with my Radio Shack SPL meter and I measured about 97db or so at c weighted average before I started noticing audible distortion (obviously we can vary the input voltages and testing methodologies to get different results, but that's a subjective real-world number to go by). In any case, the 102 dba number seems very plausible to me in a controlled environment. in either case, the i-deck will play loudly enough to have most parents yelling at their kids exclaiming, "Turn it down before your grounded!" Overall the sound was well rounded, pleasing and much above average for this type of product.

Final Thoughts

While there are certainly more affordable and alternate ways to listen to an iPod without the aid of earphones, you won't find many that are this well made and integrated with the various flavors of Apple 舗 s portable MP3 player. This is a perfect choice fora college student living in a dorm, a child's bedroom or any room where you might want something small but yet still retain quality sound. Like all products of this type, they are not intended to be a substitute for a real stereo system. But when space is limited, and sound quality, aesthetics and ergonomics are a concern, then the i-deck by Monitor Audio would be an excellent choice.

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
Analogue Audio PerformanceStarStarStarStar
Remote ControlStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar