IK Multimedia iLoud ReviewMarch 4, 2014
Plenty of Bluetooth speakers have come and gone in the mobile market, but none thus far have captured my full attention the way that IK Multimedia’s iLoud has. Since it was first unveiled last year, I’ve been itching to get my hands on a unit to run it through its paces. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews of IK Multimedia’s products, you’ll know that they set the bar high as far as quality is concerned. The company once again makes good on its tagline “Musicians First” with the first Bluetooth speaker truly designed with musicians in mind — the iLoud connects directly with a guitar, bass or microphone and interfaces with the Amplitube app on iPhone or iPad. The sheer power, clarity and portability of this tiny, lightweight speaker is truly something to behold.
The iLoud weighs in at just shy of three pounds, but feels solid and sturdy. While the unit appears to be made entirely out of plastic, aside from the IK Multimedia logo and the light-up volume knob, it definitely does not feel cheap. The LED lights surrounding the volume knob change colors in different situations, such as when pairing with a Bluetooth device or when the device is running low on battery power. The back panel has a 1/4 inch jack for guitar or bass, as well as a 3.5mm input and a dynamic microphone input – unfortunately, a condenser mic will not work with the iLoud as there is no phantom power or XLR input.
The bottom of the iLoud has two rubber pads, as well as a swivel stand that stop it from falling over. The unit is positioned at an angle for superior listening quality, and users will get roughly 10 hours out of the iLoud when it has a full charge (which takes about two hours). If you’re cranking the iLoud at full blast, you’ll get about three hours out of it, but honestly I never felt the need to use it at even 75% of its maximum volume – this thing is seriously loud.
Unfortunately, you can’t just plug in a guitar or bass and start jamming, as the input on the back only sends the audio to your tablet to be processed with an app, as it effectively acts as an iRig unit. You’ll need to plug the 3.5mm connection into your smartphone or tablet to hear anything when you’re playing, but the sound quality is stellar. You can load up backing tracks or drums on your device and have it play along with your instrument through the iLoud’s speakers, which is really fun. Impressively, there’s no discernible latency when playing.
When playing music or watching movies with the iLoud, the unit demonstrated a flat frequency response, with powerful lows, clear mids and pristine highs. The iLoud can be pushed way past a comfortable listening volume before audible distortion can be heard. I came away very impressed with the speaker’s incredible clarity and power – across a variety of tested music genres the drums, guitars, bass and vocals all came through crystal clear with great separation.
Overall, it’s hard not to be impressed by IK Multimedia’s iLoud. The balanced sound reproduction, extreme portability, and crushing power of the iLoud make it an easy sell to musicians and audiophiles alike – especially when considering that it doubles as a compact amplifier as well. While it would be great to see IK Multimedia figure out a way to integrate its AmpliTube and VocaLive technology into a future model, eliminating the need for an iOS device when playing an instrument, there’s really not much else to complain about here. Without question, iLoud is a stellar addition to IK Multimedia’s mobile product lineup.