REVIEW: Griffin Amplifi 2.1 Sound System for iPod

When it comes to a lot of the iPod speaker docks out there, you are offered sound quality that isn’t much better than a set of el cheapo PC speakers. Sure, they may be jazzed up with some glossy white styling, but if the sound output is no better than a set of bargain computer speakers, what’s the point?

Despite its remarkably minimalist design, the Griffin Amplifi 2.1 Tabletop Sound System actually offers quite a bit more “umph” than you’d get from a set of el cheapo PC speakers. Considering that the list price on this iPod speaker dock is $150 though, you should probably expect that it offers some decent audio quality.

Features and Technical Specifications

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear. The Grffin Amplifi Sound System is designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to play your iPod-fueled (or other audio source) tunes through a set of aurally-pleasing speakers. It’s not going to output your video to a larger screen. It’s not going to connect to your computer for synchronization purposes. At least it comes with a remote.

At the top of the unit is a standard iPod dock. In this way, the Amplifi will work with just about any contemporary iPod, including the iPhone and the iPod touch. Inside the box are a set of dock adapters to provide you with a better fit, but I personally ditch these in favor of just a regular connection. The dock connector seems robust enough to not snap off inside my iPod nano.

Other features include a compact acoustically-tuned wooden enclosure, slim 6-function IR remote, iPod charging, two 2.75″ neodymium high/midrange speakers, 5″ woofer and bass reflex port, 3.5mm stereo input jack, and AC power cable.

Get Ready to Squint (or Not Care)

In keeping with the minimalist approach, the Grffin Amplifi really brings nothing to the table aside from a set of speakers. What this means is that if you are looking to fill a room with your Amy Winehouse playlist, you won’t really be able to see what you are playing unless you’re pretty close to the speaker system itself.

There is no display at all, so you are relying entirely on your iPod screen. If you’re rocking an iPod nano or even an iPod classic, this can be quite the challenge. From further away, it can still be difficult to see what’s going on with your iTouch or iPhone.

I would have liked a simple display of some kind, but that could make for a slightly different product. Instead, what you get is a bright blue volume knob and that’s about it. This styling is more fashionable than it is utilitarian. And I’m usually more of a utilitarian.

The credit card-sized remote is perfectly useful for advancing tracks and adjusting the volume. It’s just that you’ll have no idea what you’re listening to unless, well, you know what you’re listening to.

Sound Quality and Equalizers

Who cares how it looks so long as it sounds good, right? Given the relative size of this sound system, you probably shouldn’t expect it to provide the same kind of aural experience as a larger home theater system. And you’d be right.

Largely because the Grffin Amplifi is a 2.1 system (and not a 2.0 system), you are able to enjoy a decent amount of bass. The five-inch woofer isn’t the largest thing in the world, but the reflex port provides an adequate amount of punch. The two midrange/high speakers aren’t quite as satisfying, especially at higher volumes. Whether I was listening to rock, hip hop, or pop, I found the sound to be a little too “sharp” for my tastes.

In order to adjust the audio settings, you’ll have to go through your iPod or other audio source (there is a 3.5mm jack in the back, which overrides the iPod dock when a signal is detected). There is no on-board equalizer for the Griffin Amplifi. I guess with no display, that’s to be expected.

Closing Remarks

As opposed to the cheaper plastic docks that you may find on the market, the Griffin Amplifi features an all-wood enclosure. When paired with a set of neodymium speakers and an adequate subwoofer, the resulting audio quality is definitely a step above the cheaper docks on the market. The Amplifi is far from being the best and you probably won’t want to use it for replacing your home theatre, but it’s good enough for a kitchen or bedroom.

I dig the overall style, but the lack of a display is a bit of a deal breaker for me. If you can find the Amplifi on sale somewhere for a decent price, though, it could be worth picking up. It sure beats $10 PC speakers.


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