iLive IT209B 3.1 Channel Soundbar with iPod Dock Reviewed

iLive_IT209B_soundbar_review.jpgDuring a recent trip to my local Target, I stumbled across a soundbar from a company I’d never seen before – iLive. What made the iLive 3.1 Soundbar stand out from the rest wasn’t its sound (it wasn’t plugged in as you will often find in big box and warehouse stores); it was the included, or should I say attached, iPod/iPhone dock jutting out from its face. I looked over the iLive soundbar and thought it looked to be a pretty full-featured, cool piece of kit so I got one for review.

Additional Resources
• Read more soundbar reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com’s staff.
• Explore LED HDTVs and Plasma HDTVs to pair with the iLive IT209B.

The iLive Soundbar retails for $149.99 and is sold in many retail outlets such as Target and Wal-Mart. It measures 37-inches wide and comes only in black though the end caps are dressed up a bit with some high-gloss accents. The iLive Soundbar can be table or wall mounted and comes with the appropriate hardware for both applications. As I said earlier, the iLive Soundbar has a motorized iPod/iPhone dock; it also has a backlit LCD display that doubles as a digital clock complete with alarm function – making the iLive Soundbar a truly versatile, lifestyle product.

The iLive Soundbar features a built-in subwoofer, hence the 3.1. Surprisingly enough the iLive Soundbar also has a subwoofer output, meaning you can mate an additional subwoofer to it for better, smoother bass response. As for the iLive Soundbar’s other connection options, there’s a composite video out, S-video out, two analog audio inputs, a mini line in input (3.5mm) and auxiliary input.

Behind the scenes the iLive Soundbar is Apple certified for iPod use and its motorized dock will charge your connected iPod or iPhone while you listen. The iLive Soundbar features SRS TruSurround XT sound technology, which simulates a full 5.1 surround sound effect. It has both treble and bass controls as well as preset EQ, all of which is controlled via the iLive Soundbar’s rather comprehensive remote. The iLive Soundbar also has a built-in radio tuner with station memory (10 stations) and last channel memory.

As far as the iLive Soundbar’s sound quality is concerned, it gets a little boxy and colored at above moderate volumes and becomes flat and forward too, which leads me to believe the ideal environment for the iLive Soundbar isn’t in a living room but instead a bedroom or den. Of course if you live in a small studio apartment or one bedroom, then perhaps the iLive Soundbar can serve as your main virtual surround sound system but it really does seem perfect for a bedroom system. When played at moderate to late night levels the iLive Soundbar’s sound is okay, possessing solid bass from its narrow cabinet, with tame though not airy highs and a somewhat middle of the road midrange. The iLive Soundbar’s ability to convey a surround sound performance from its three small speakers isn’t bad either, though because you can’t turn it up it’s not exactly engaging. The iLive Soundbar’s iPod dock is a nice feature and is great if you wish to play back your favorite music in the background while getting ready or working out in the morning. I also like the iLive Soundbar’s LCD clock. If there’s one thing that could be said about the iLive Soundbar’s performance it’s that it’s versatile.

Read about the high points and low points of the iLive IT209B soundbar on Page 2.

iLive_IT209B_soundbar_review_iPod.jpgHigh Points
• The iLive Soundbar’s build quality isn’t as cheap as I was expecting
and the number of built-in features, like the subwoofer, is shocking at
its price point.
• Speaking of subwoofers, if the iLive Soundbar’s bass performance
isn’t to your liking you can easily connect an outboard subwoofer to
round out its bottom-end.
• The iLive Soundbar can be wall mounted and comes with the requisite hardware to do so, which is a nice touch.
• The iLive Soundbar’s motorized iPod dock is pretty trick and slides
back into the cabinet when not in use. It worked perfectly with my
Apple products and allowed me to play hours of music, albeit at
reasonable volumes, while I worked out and got ready in the morning.
• The iLive Soundbar does a good job with movies provided they’re not
too bombastic or you turn things up too loud. For late night, bedroom
viewing it fits the bill.

Low Points
• The iLive Soundbar’s lack of a digital audio input, be it optical or coaxial, is a bit of an oversight and somewhat limiting.
• I like that the iLive Soundbar has video inputs and outputs but
composite or S-Video just doesn’t cut it. I’m sure the iLive Soundbar’s
lack of digital video inputs and outputs is a cost saving measure but
I’d rather not have any than a set I can’t really use.
• The motorized iPod dock is cool but I’m curious how long it will take to break.
• I’m a little let down by just how poorly the iLive Soundbar performs
when played back at higher levels. Many soundbars fall apart at higher
volumes but the iLive Soundbar’s threshold seems to be a lot lower than
the competition.

Competition and Comparison
Soundbars are hotter than ever and the iLive Soundbar faces some stiff
competition despite its seemingly low price. Another soundbar to
consider is Polk Audio’s SurroundBar 6000. While it may cost more than the iLive Soundbar at $499.95 its
performance is leaps and bounds ahead of where the iLive is, not to
mention its build quality is fantastic and it includes a wireless,
standalone subwoofer. It lacks an iPod dock though.

Another soundbar to consider is Vizio’s VHT-210 soundbar. At
$269.99 it too is more expensive than the iLive but again its
performance handily trumps the iLive in virtually every way.

For more information on soundbars including the latest news and
reviews please visit Home Theater Review’s Soundbar page.

Conclusion
If you’re looking for an easy to use, affordable soundbar that will
double as your iPod/iPhone charging station and alarm clock, then look
no further than iLive’s 3.1 Soundbar for it’s tailor made for you.
Install it in a small room, such as a bedroom or den, and keep the
volume on the more rational side of loud and it should serve you just
fine; however if you want a more cinematic sound experience you’re
going to want to look elsewhere.

Additional Resources

• Read more soundbar reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com’s staff.

• Explore LED HDTVs and Plasma HDTVs to pair with the iLive IT209B.

SOURCE:http://hometheaterreview.com/ilive-it209b-31-channel-soundbar-with-ipod-dock-reviewed/