It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed an iPod speaker system so we thought we would let you all know about one from XtremeMac. These guys love their iPod accessories, with cases, speakers, chargers and adapters for the entire line of iPods and more recently, the Apple TV.
I’ve been test-driving the XtremeMac Tango 2.1 speaker system in conjunction with my 5G 30GB iPod. The styling of the Tango reminds me of a downsized version of the iPod Hi-Fi and is undoubtedly inspired by the Cupertino design.
With an all white top that curves over the top of the unit and a black front and back, this system definitely ticks all the boxes for my ‘sexy design’ checklist.
It’s very clear that the same paradigm for product design has been applied to the packaging with a well designed box and a ‘fresh’ user experience to unpacking the contents of in a similar way to the un-boxing of many Apple products. You’re probably thinking, “Why the heck are you bothering to write about the un-boxing of a product?!”. Apple are probably most famous for using non-generic packaging for its products that are just as well designed as the products it carries.
The reason Apple do this isn’t because they’re pretentious (although one would understand why you might think this), it’s because they want the person who has received the product to have a great experience not only in using it but also when they first get it out of its box and put it all together. It’s all about the user experience and Apple are very successful at doing this, so XtremeMac has taken that ideology and applied it to their products, so kudos to them!
Inside the packaging you will find docks for the 30GB, 60GB, 80GB and Nano although the Tango does work with all iPods with the iPod dock connector but those older than 4G models will not charge in the dock. You also get travel adapters, not that you’re likely to be taking this with you anytime soon, it is handy and thoughtful of XtremeMac to include these.
The seductive curves and iPod-white enamel casing is beautiful not only to look at, but when no one else is watching you might want to sneak a few strokes as well.
With such a minimalist design there’s not much that marks the surface of the glossy white exterior, in fact the only buttons you’ll find are the power button and volume controls. Directly above it is the iPod dock and that’s it. You can just admire the smooth luscious white veneer.
It’s the same story with the front of the unit, a black speaker grille that travels along the entire width of the unit until it reaches the curved white exterior. Underneath that speaker grille, right in the centre is the LED status light that shows you when the unit is in standby (red), on (blue) and will flash blue whenever you press a button on the remote.
Once you hit the ceiling for any of the audio controls like bass then it flashes red, likewise when you’ve reached the lowest setting. The LED finish is a nice touch to a stunning-looking set of speakers.
Turn the unit around and you will find the expected jacks alongside some unexpected ones. Naturally you will find a Line In jack and the power adapter but the Tango doesn’t just stick with the standard. They’ve also included an S-Video and 3.5 mm A/V out jack. So not only does the Tango operate as a standalone speaker unit, you can also hook this up to your T.V and play your movies through it (providing you have a 5G iPod of course).
The remote control is decked out in the same white and black material with a soft touch to the buttons. It’s not iPod-remote small but its no brick either, fitting comfortably in to any trouser or shirt pocket.
The XtremeMac Tango is a 2.1 speaker system so when you read that it has 5 speakers, something doesn’t quite add up. Not content with just two speakers and a subwoofer, the design team have implemented extra 2 mid-range drivers to reproduce a full, clear and crisp sound. In total this sound system can throw out 120 Watts of pure joy with its two 2.5-inch mid-range speakers, two 1-inch tweeters and a 4-inch subwoofer.
The subwoofer is sealed in its own acoustic chamber with a bass reflex port. Using a sealed acoustic chamber for the subwoofer is important for stopping it interfering and audio ‘leaking’ in to the rest of the speaker cabinet. Without the sealed acoustic chamber, you would end up with music made up of just bass as the low frequency drowns out everything else.
A bass reflex port is used to complement the subwoofer by extending the low frequencies of your tunes. This gives you a naturally deeper bass without distortion.Â Perfect combinations for some thumping loud tunes that will make the neighbours jealous of envy….or just pure hate.
Front facing are the four speakers with fifth speaker, the subwoofer designed to fire downwards right on to the surface the Tango is sitting on. XtremeMac aren’t one to miss anything in its design with rubberised feet helping to absorb the shock and vibrations from the subwoofer and potentially causing damage to your precious speakers.
Using the infrared remote control is straightforward and offers you the functions you’re going to use most often. There are a few things that I would like to have seen included though. Whilst there’s functionality for the usual power/play/pause/skip there’s also bass and treble control and a reset button to get the bass and treble back to its default settings.
The controls that are missing are the ability to skip to the next album or playlist and a Shuffle and Repeat buttons. Whilst I understand that the designers were going for the most minimalist design they could get away with, I think the lack of the album or playlist skip buttons are a mistake but one that can be forgiven as I discovered when I first fired up these speakers and blasted through some Timbaland tracks on it.
Looks can be deceiving, but the innocent look is nothing to go by because the sound is second to none. The Tango can really do some hearing damage with its massive 120 watts of pure audio enjoyment. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m no audiophile but these speakers are incredible, they have the ability to produce deep and powerful bass and a crystal clear mid-range. It’s so fantastic that even rubbish tunes will sound good on these speakers.
With a downward facing subwoofer, this can result in sound quality issues, especially when the sound is hitting the surface at a close distance. This can result in the bass sounding flat and also transfer vibrations on the surface that it’s sitting on.
I can tell you now that isn’t the case. Part of the beautiful design with the white top and black speakers is that the speakers are suspended in mid air away from the table and the gap that will form when you place these speakers on a table surface is enough for the sound to actually travel without affecting the audio quality. As for the vibrations, well the rubber feet will take care of that, stopping it dead in its tracks. Even at very high volumes, I didn’t experience much if any vibration apart from the table it was sitting on.
I’ve played an assortment of audio tracks on the Tango from Fratellis, The Fray, Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, Jack Johnson, John Mayer and even Jonny Cash, and they all sound as they should do with a full and rich audio experience that you wouldn’t expect. For the bass-addicts out there (I’m one of them) getting the Tango would be a match made in heaven, pump the bass up on the remote and you’ll be crying by the end of the first Floorfillers album.
XtremeMac have really hit the mark with the Tango and further reinforces just how much they love everything and anything to do with the iPod. Their flagship speaker system represents tremendous sound quality at a fraction of the cost of some of the more expensive systems out there. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is probably the best sounding iPod speaker system I’ve ever come across next to the iPod Hi-Fi.
A quick Google Products (previously known as Froogle) search showed that you could pick up these speakers for less than £100. Yes. You saw it right the first time. For less than £100 these speakers are insanely under priced. I would be selling these at iPod Hi-Fi prices if it were up to me. Luckily for you I’m not! It’s a ridiculously low price for what I think is the best loudspeaker system designed specifically for the iPod. It’s certainly the closest to the iPod Hi-Fi and that costs over twice as much.
There are just some minor quirks about it that I found whilst using the Tango, the first one is the need for direct line of sight to use the remote. Unlike the Apple-remote you need to point it pretty accurately in order for it to work.
With massive audio performance and powerful bass technology built right in to the unit, the Tango isn’t designed for ‘quiet’ listening, instead it’s a speaker system for blasting your tunes. Ideal for any party the XtremeMac offers a rich bassy sound with crystal clear treble.
There’s not a lot I can fault this unit on, it really is a superb system matched with a premium design that will make any iPod more than welcome to its dock.