As a 6’3″ guy who weighs no more than a buck-65 (wet out of the shower), I have a lot of respect for anything skinny (editor’s note: are you calling me fat?). So it’s been my pleasure to test the Kensington SX-2000 speakers for iPod. Like several other systems that turn your iPod into a mini-home stereo, it’s a speaker with a built-in docking station.
There are so many docking stations for the iPod that I thought Kensington’s entrant to the market wouldn’t impress me. In fact, Apple’s own addition tanked and is probably the worst product they’ve put out in years. Think Mack Truck in your living room. With all of these docking stations, I was ready to write the “also-ran” review. Not so. This product is fantastic and brings your entire music collection into places that you may never have considered.
Voila. Music. Kensington also ships with adapters, but unless you have a really old iPod or a mini no additional effort is required. I didn’t need to use them for either my Nano or iPod.
First I placed the SX-2000 in our bedroom. This is a spot where my wife and I haven’t been able to enjoy our 30GB of music (thanks DMP3music.com). With the slim form factor, I was able to put this on top of our cluttered chest of drawers and not have my wife yell at me about our overflowing technology collection. The skinny size, and you know I have to represent the skinny, means that it is unobtrusive and can go in any room. In fact, having access to all our music in rooms where it didn’t exist before has been fantastic. Now we’re able to listen to music all the time.
Now slim size is a nice plus and all, but for me the main question was: “How does it sound?” The answer is “amazing.” The sound is rich both at high and low volumes and nice and steady throughout. It’s not a Cambridge Soundworks system, but for the price and size, it does everything we want. We’ve even started to crank up the tunes while we are in the other rooms and the sound carries well and with no notable distortion. Part of what impresses me about the Kensington unit is the NXT technology (used in the device).
When you compare the sound quality relative to the size of the unit it creates a full sound range despite being so thin, no subwoofer needed, and no loss in the midrange. I’m not an audiophile and I assume if you are, you probably don’t consider an iPod as a worthy enough device to play your music anyway. No judgment here on my part, but you’re probably doing fine with your Sonos.
This weekend, I was able to play with the Bose SoundDock and when you do the price-to-sound-quality math with the Bose priced at $299, the Kensington wins hands-down.
I’ve had 4 iPods since the first generation version, and loved them all, but they aren’t perfect (gasp). One of the most frustrating things to me (and others I know) is their battery life, even on the new ones. It’s not Apple’s fault, it’s just the nature of portable electronics. One of my favorite things about the SX-2000 is it charges the iPod while playing. This eliminates the need to keep docking the iPod or connecting your USB cord to your computer.
As with any device, there is always room for improvement. The power switch and volume do not control the iPod, only the SX-2000. This means you are using both the iPod and the dock to turn power on and increase/decrease volume. If this doesn’t sound important to you, think of it like this: if you try listening to music, but can’t understand why the speakers don’t go that loud, you might maximize the volume on the SX-2000 to compensate for a low volume setting on your iPod. But then you go for a run (not me) and while using your headphones you turn the iPod volume up fairly high. Now you return home and dock the iPod and push play to hear extremely distorted sound (you could even blow the speakers). Rule of thumb to all hardware designers: never create devices that have independent volume controls if they don’t need them!
The only other detraction of the SX-2000, and I don’t blame them for this, is that if you have a skin for your full-size iPod, you have to finagle a bit to get the iPod to dock. You can see in the pictures that the cover to protect the connector on the iPod gets in the way of having the iPod fit perfectly in the dock. The iSkin that I’m using on the iPod is pretty standard, so I’m sure some of you may experience this. I didn’t have issues with the Nano (also pictured).
If I could make a recommendation, a great addition to the device would be a front-row style remote control. With a remote I wouldn’t have to walk over to the SX-2000 every time I want to skip a track or adjust the volume.
Overall, the Kensington SX-2000 Speakers for your iPod is a phenomenal accessory for your iPod. At about half the price of an iPod, freeing your music from your earbuds or your computer is absolutely worth it. Having great sound quality is almost like an additional freebie. I’m not only going to buy a unit to keep, but am considering another one for the kitchen.
- Slim design makes it work in any room or environment
- Phenomenal sound quality
- Easy to setup and use
- Not for audiophiles
- Independent Power and Volume controls
- Anyone who wants to free the music from their iPod headphones
- In fact, anyone who owns an iPod
- Anyone who doesn’t want to invest in an expensive sound-system
Thanks to NXT for providing a review unit.