Price paid: $ 299
Ease of Use — 7
The iLoud is a compact, portable speaker that can connect to audio sources via Bluetooth wireless or with an 1/8" mini cable. It's also a wireless iRig audio interface: you can plug a guitar or mic into its 1/4-inch input and play through AmpliTube or other apps on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod - making the iLoud kind of a mini amplifier. The best part? It's battery powered, so you can use it anywhere. Once you juice up the rechargeable lithium-ion battery, you can go for about 10 hours without plugging in. The whole thing is about 2 1/2 inches thick with the width and length of an iPad, so you can easily shove it in a bag and go. You can pair up to two separate Bluetooth enabled audio sources at any given time without the need for re-pairing. On the front there's just a volume control. On the rear panel is the 1/8" line input, the 1/4" iRig instrument/mic input, a gain control to set the instrument or mic level, a button to initiate Bluetooth pairing, a power indicator LED, an on/off switch and a charger input. The two 3" neodymium drivers, two 3/4" tweeters, and a bass port on the back combine with some deft digital processing for a loudness and clarity that have impressed every friend I've shown this to so far. IK Multimedia says these speakers sound like speakers three times their size, and I have to agree.
Sound — 9
With portable devices you can usually expect some sound quality trade-off - but these things scream! The 40 watts are loud and surprisingly true sounding. For having such small speakers, the iLoud articulates bass frequencies particularly impressively - even compared to much larger speakers I've heard. IK Multimedia reports a frequency response from 50Hz to 20kHz. To test the frequency response, I listened to one of my favorite albums: Rage Against The Machine's self-titled release, then to some of my favorite metal and dubstep albums that I'm really familiar with. This little guy is seriously impressive across the spectrum, but especially in the clarity of the low frequencies. Plugging my guitar in, I played playing through AmpliTube on my iPhone, which I had paired with the iLoud via Bluetooth wireless. I'm a long-time AmpliTube user, but playing through an iLoud was like breathing new life into AmpliTube for me. It's the best I've ever heard it sound.
Reliability & Durability — 7
The iLoud is built tough with a hard exterior casing and a rubber foot. For added stability, a stand folds out from the bottom. Though thee Li-Ion battery is integrated into the device and is easily rechargeable, at home you can always power the device with the included charger cable. The iLoud would easily fit into a backpack on the go, or even a laptop case. Theoretically, with other portable devices that are now readily available, you could fit your entire studio into a backpack and take it camping with you and record your campfire songs.
Overall Impression — 8
I'm seriously digging this little guy. As a portable Bluetooth speaker, it's terrific, but I would especially recommend it to anyone for a small home studio, especially if you want the freedom to go portable. It's not inexpensive, but it does a lot for around the same price as basic desktop studio monitors, with the added bonus battery-powered portability and Bluetooth compatibility. Actually, the iLoud makes the home studio monitors I've been using sound bad. They'll probably end up on Craigslist, and the iLoud will to take over at home, while occasionally going with me wherever I want to make music. This is one of the most impressive portable audio devices I've seen. I strongly suggest you check it out.