Friday, November 18, 2011

Kicker iK501 iPhone/iPod Dock Review

Music is everywhere, and we like to take it everywhere with us. Portable MP3 players let us do that. And with the large storage sized of many of these players, it is easy to throw ALL of our music collection on them. So naturally, it is convenient to want to plug it into a device that will let us listen to our tunes at home, or at work.
Enter the iPod dock. These small portable systems that are great for the bedroom, kitchen, or the office for example. They come in various sizes and levels in quality and price. The Kicker iK501 iPhone/iPod Dock is one such device.
It's features and specs include:
Speaker Design: 2-Way
Woofer (in., cm): 5, 12.7
Tweeter (in., cm): 3/4, 2.0
Tweeter Design: Silk Dome
Passive Radiator (in., cm): 6x6, 15x15
RMS Power (watts): 2x20
Effective Frequency Range (Hz): 50-20k
Power Supply (volts, ampere): 22, 2.7
Height (in., cm): 8.5, 21.6
Width (in., cm): 19.2, 48.8
Depth (in., cm): 8.4, 21.4
Weight (lb., kg): 9.2, 4.2
MSRP: 279.95
The Kicker iK501 iPhone/iPod Dock arrived double boxed, and it's box had attractive printed packaging. Opening the box was more protective styrofoam, as well as some accessories. Included were the user's manual, remote control, power cord, multiple sized iPod adapters, and an axillary cable for hooking up an MP3 player or other external device.
Upon inspecting the iK501, I saw the quality of product I have come to expect from Kicker. It was well put together with a good quality fit and finish. I used the auxiliary input for external devices for more flexibility. It even has an audio and video output. So if you have video on your iPod, you can export it to a TV. It looked to have some great features, about the only thing I was slightly disappointed in is the lack of radio tuner. I was really excited at the speaker design which showed great promise! The Kicker iK501 has separate 3/4" tweeters, 5" midrange drives and a 6" square passive radiator subwoofer for additional low end extension. I had high hopes for the sound it would provide.
Controlling the device was very simple. There was a blue LCD display that showed the volume, and switching between iPod and auxiliary input. A simple rotary knob is all that is needed to control the device. I also liked the ability to adjust the treble and bass. A build-in handle also made it easy to carry. I also can't forget the included remote control. Navigating thru albums and songs using the touch pad on my iPod Classic can be a pain when it is docked. But the remote makes it easy to do all the necessary navigating. No need to even touch the iPod while it is docked!
I was not disappointed when it came to the sound and performance of the device. I first started with the axillary in, and connected a portable CD player. WOW! It sounded great, and worked great. I pulled out my iPod and connected it. I immediately saw that it had started to charge my iPod.
Now that it is time to really rest the sound, I thought I would first start with some Steve Miller Band: Swingtown. It had nice tight kick drum beats, and the bass guitar had good extension. Vocals were natural and quite smooth sounding. The cymbals were also sufficiently crisp.
Next I wanted to test some real bass with the passive radiator subwoofer. Justin Timberlake: Sexyback did just that. And WOW! The guys at Kicker did a great job designing the iK501! They must have gotten the airspace inside just right, because the passive radiator sure did not sound passive. Bass beats were clean, with a lot of authority. I could actually feel the vibration in my desk and in the floor under my feet! This thing rocks!!
And just incase you aren't really into rockin' out, I then turned to Mannheim Steamroller's Fresh Aire V: Earthrise/Return. I liked the smooth strings, crisp percussion, and overall nice harmonics. There was good resolution in all the instruments. And what surprised me was the soundstage! The iK501 actually provided a nice deep soundstage with good imaging as well.
I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of the Kicker iK501. With so many choices of iPod docks, you never know how the device will perform or how good it will sound. With a brand like Kicker, you know they put out products that meet the expectations of their brand. The Kicker iK501 iPhone/Ipod Dock performed well and sounded amazing for an iPod dock. It doesn't get much better then the iK501. Infact, with how good it sounded, I know a few people who would be happy to use it as their primary stereo system! It really did sound good. At an MSRP of $269.95, there are cheaper options out there, but you do get what you pay for. And it performed well for its price point. Based on it's design, features and performance, it has earned our Editor's choice Award, even without the radio tuner. For more info and specs, check out their website at