Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/21/review_ipod_dock_intellitouch_eos_eos100b1trb/

IntelliTouch Eos wireless iPod speaker system

Compact, punchy, multi-zone music setup

By Lewis Caliburn

Posted in Hardware, 21st May 2009 08:02 GMT

Review Fancy an affordable wireless iPod system that can grow to suit your needs or just looking for a way to avoid hardwiring speakers in the your home? Certainly, wireless sound systems take some beating in terms of convenience but, typically, at a cost. Addressing both portability and price, the new IntelliTouch Eos offers multizone audio may prove to be a sound investment.

Intellitouch EOS100B1TRB

Intellitouch's Eos: starter kit includes docking station and wireless speaker

At £250, the Eos100T1RB is the main docking base station with an Eos100RB client speaker included. With additional speakers at £100 apiece, five zones of audio can be furnished for just under £550. Not bad value and certainly loads less hassle that going down the route of a wired whole house approach.

Also available in white, the looks are nothing to get excited about with the test model clad in a relatively neutral black body and silver grill on both the main docking station and the client speakers. Included are five adapters for different iPod models. However, older third generation universal adapters are not supplied. Neither is an adapter for the Nano and fifth generation Video iPods, iPhones and iPhone Touch. As Apple bundles adapters with these particular iPods, this should not pose too much of a problem.

The Eos iPod docking base station/transmitter features two stereo speakers and a ported sub-woofer. The base station’s auxiliary audio input makes use of the good quality 3.5mm stereo jack cable supplied with the unit, so that anything with a headphone or line output can play through the system.

The Eos also utilises WOW sound enhancement technology from SRS Labs. The science behind WOW is to deliver improved bass response and a wider stereo image using psychoacoustic techniques. The attributes of the SRS WOW signal processing are also broadcast to all the wireless stereo remote speakers linked to the base station/transmitter.

Intellitouch EOS100B1TRB

Simple controls, but where's the off button?

Front mounted buttons on the base station control volume, switching between sources, muting the main speakers and turning the wireless transmission on and off. All are well laid out and labelled, allowing you to get started with minimum fuss. However, we could not find a main on/off button on the docking station or on the small remote, which does mean the unit has to be turned off at the wall when not in use.

So how does it sound? The base station’s stereo speakers and ported sub-woofer – mounted on the base of the unit – do provide a surprisingly dynamic performance. The bass response is particularly good for a unit of this size and a genuinely wide stereo field is created with a pleasing level of detail across all frequencies.

Intellitouch EOS100B1TRB

Sonic boom: psychoacoustic algorithms bolster the bass response

To give the unit a real test, we drilled through some tracks from Led Zeppelin’s BBC Session album. This is a pretty raw recording with lots of very fuzzy bass to catch out the main unit. We also chose to feed the tunes through the 3.5 mm jack over a 192kb/s MP3 signal using a fairly ancient Sony Walkman. We have to say the unit coped really well, with only a very minimal drop in sound quality from using the main iPod dock, How Many More Times came over with the grimy bass sounds, huge drums and squealing vocals mostly intact.

Intellitouch calls the Eos wireless delivery system GigaWave. It operates at 2.4GHz and uses error correction and a frequency hopping scheme to deliver a claimed range of up to 50 metres through walls and ceilings, for both indoor and outdoor environments. Outdoor use is limited by the fact that all the clients need a power source, but the amount of power used by the system would probably make any battery approach of limited use – maybe next time?

Getting started with the wireless speakers is very easy. Simply place the clients in the desired areas, press the wireless button on the base station, turn the client on and about two seconds later it’s all up and running. A really neat trick the client speaker has up its sleeve is the ability to mount itself on the wall by plugging directly into the wall socket.

This is a tidy space saving feature, but in case the approach does not work for your room or shed layout, the power pack is easily removed from the back of the unit and acts in a normal plug and cable approach. The sound quality from the client speakers, again, was surprisingly good.

Intellitouch EOS100B1TRB

Noise reduction: each speaker has a black volume control knob, next to the antenna

The speaker units use the same stereo and ported woofer approach and this time we gave it something a little more considered in the form of Ian Dury and The Blockheads’ New Boots and Panties album, this time through the main iPod dock. The recording’s eclectic mix of rock, jazz, punk and poetry came across well with subtler moments of piano doing just as well as the more soaring saxophone sections.

The company’s claims on signal range held up to our tests, which revealed nothing in the way of interference. However, should you experience signal interference difficulties or want to run more than one Eos system in the house, a unique ID can be given to the client speakers, so that they and the bass station will only communicate with each other.

Intellitouch EOS100B1TRB

Speakers can be wall-mounted directly from the mains socket

Working in ‘normal’ mode, the system is non-specific and just attaches itself to the first four client Eos speakers it finds. There is also a booster switch on the rear of the base station with extends the wireless range of the system and signal strength. This Range EX feature introduces a delay of 64ms betweens the base station playback and the client speaker as opposed to 20ms in normal mode. The system uses that extra time to check whether the audio packets have been received correctly and if not, it resends them.

Verdict

The only really niggles are the remote functions only provide very basic control of the iPod docked in the station and a proper stereo phono input would be welcome to link up hi-fi gear. While not as elegant as some wireless solutions, it’s quick and easy to set up and delivers remarkable sound quality for the price. ®

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