Logic3 i-Station 8

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Logic3 may not be well known amongst the big names in the iPod speaker market, like JBL, Harman Kardon or Bose, but they certainly give them a run for their money.

We previously reviewed the original Logic3 i-Station for the iPod and it not only exceeded expectations but for its price and bundled features and accessories, it was the best priced iPod speaker/dock system on the market and even today it still scores highly.

Improving on the original formula of a good set of connectivity and overall impressive sound, the i-Station 8 re-defines the concept for speaker design. It features an industry first, 8 tweeter speaker system with a 2.5 mm woofer and radiator.

Not only does it have 6 extra tweeters than the previous model, it now includes S-Video or Composite out, a backlit LCD display showing track information and a remote which controls the speaker system and the docked iPod. For £99.99 I don’t think there’s a similar solution on the market that comes anywhere near as feature complete as this system.

Nice finishing touches like the slow unfolding dock and the ambient blue glow behind the iPod make the inexplicable design pleasing to the eye. The remote control can be tucked away at the rear of the unit with a space that allows you to lock the remote in to place. This space also doubles up as a carrying handle for when you want to take this system on your travels the system can be powered using 6 AA batteries or mains adapter.

If you’re not content with the built in speakers, you can use this as an entertainment dock. Along side the video out ports comes the line in and line out connectors. There’s not much that the designers behind this funky system haven’t thought of. At the rear, you’ll also find a port for attaching your iPod data cable for synchronizing to your Mac or PC.

The shiny iPod-white design matches the colour and styling of the white iPod. As I write this, there isn’t a black version available but I’m sure that’s on the way. The build quality is good with solid materials and construction. The included remote is super slim and not that much bigger than the Apple Remote by comparison. It offers you enough functionality that 99% of the time you won’t have to get up from your seat to get to your favourite tracks.

The remote will allow you to power the dock, mute sound, volume up and down, forward and rewind tracks, enable shuffle or repeat, skip and rewind albums, next and previous play list and play/pause of course. Whilst a designs similar to the iPod remote would be welcome, I think Logic3 have made a sensible compromise in ergonomics so that functionality isn’t compromised. The 13 button design is simple and easy to use and operate.

Curious about the quality and ability of the remote, I decided to do some distance testing. I was able to go as far back as 15 feet line of sight and still continue to use the remote. There is potential for this remote to work even further distances however I ran out of room! Also just like the Apple Remote for the iPod Hi-Fi, it doesn’t require direct line of sight for you to use it. I was able to sit at my desk with the speaker system to my right hand side and the Logic remote to my left hand side, pick it up and without it pointing directly at it, the remote successfully changed tracks. This again is great news as it seems Logic3 have gone for a no compromise functionality in the design.

So I’ve talked about the design, form and functionality but how about the sound you all ask?

You’re all probably wondering about the ridiculous number of tweeters and the woofer with radiator. The speaker system produces full and clear audio reproduction straight from the iPod. Since the system uses the digital dock, you get digital clarity.

Whilst Im not sure if the 8 tweeters really add anything extra to the sound quality instead of a standard 2 speakers and woofer combination of the previous model, I can’t complain about the sound. It’s got the right level of bass and will offer you plenty of volume when you need it.

Even at the higher volumes, the neodymium speakers fail to distort with a range of different tracks tested. Each of these tweeters are individually powered at 2 watts with a total of 16 watts output. Would it not be the same to just use two 8 watt tweeters to get the same volume? Despite this I think the eccentric design pays of and the gamble that Logic3 have taken with this design will surely be tested in the upcoming months as all the other iPod speaker manufacturers start pumping out their latest models.

I have to say, iPod speaker designs of late are starting to become more and more funky with the likes of JBL’s Radial or the mStation Orb.

The blue backlit display shows volume control and track information. It can be set to be always on, or to switch off at pre-defined intervals. When the unit is powered by batteries, the backlit display is always off which makes sense. The backlit blue display helps improve readability of the display which fails to be of use after moving from several feet away unless you got razor sharp eye sight.

Another minor issue that the display introduces is the plug and play-ability of the i-Station 8 with your iPod. Every time you dock your iPod it takes about 10 seconds for it to Connect and this is display on the screen of your iPod and the speaker system. This is so that the i-Station 8 can take over the controls of your iPod for use with your remote and to extract textual information such as track names. A small compromise but not one that will put you of from buying this speaker set.

When you fold the iPod dock back in to the unit, the supplied plastic cover helps to protect the entire front of the unit, to prevent damage to the woofer and tweeters. This was a feature found in the previous i-Station. However unlike the previous generation, there is nowhere for you to place the front cover once it’s been taken off. A slight compromise in design but one that I think can be forgiven. Despite this, the overall dimensions of the unit are surprisingly compact and well worth packing with you on your travels.

Yet again Logic3 have surprised us all, with an innovative design and fantastic feature set combined with a great price. If you’re in the market for a set of speakers for your iPod present or past then definitely consider the Logic3 i-Station 8 if you can see pass the minor niggles and unorthodox design. I think this one deserves a TechCast Recommended award.

2006-06-22 Onwah Tsang

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