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When it comes to compact speakers, MacAlly's two PodWave models -- and several similarly-designed and -sized products from other vendors -- have impressed us with both their small size and their decent sound (for the size, of course). But these products have now lost their title of "smallest iPod speakers" thanks to Miglia's MicroSound. At only 2.3" wide by 0.8" high by 1.1" deep, and weighing just over an ounce, the MicroSound nevertheless includes left and right drivers, each just over half an inch in diameter, a rear battery compartment for a single AAA battery, and an On/Off switch.
The top of the MicroSound, on the right side, hosts a stereo 1/8" miniplug that plugs into your iPod's headphone jack. (Although Miglia advertises the MicroSound as being compatible with only the iPod nano and shuffle, since it simply plugs into a headphone jack, it actually fits any iPod -- or any device with a standard headphone minijack, for that matter. The only caveat is that, because of the location of the headphone jack, when using the MicroSound with a full-size iPod or iPod mini, the MicroSound's speakers will face the back of the iPod unless you rotate the MicroSound so that it hangs awkwardly off the right side.) You control the MicroSound's volume via the iPod's own volume control. The MicroSound's base is wide enough that the speaker acts as a decent stand; a tiny brace in the rear of the bottom adds a bit of stability.
The left side of the top edge of the MicroSound hosts a small silicone-rubber pad. When the MicroSound is used with an iPod nano, this pad keeps the speaker unit from rotating loosely around the headphone jack -- a welcome touch that improves on the design of the other ultra-compact speakers we've tested. However, when used with an iPod shuffle, the MicroSound is free to rotate -- not to mention that the 1st-generation shuffle is actually upside down if you use the MicroSound as a stand, as intended. These two issues make the MicroSound a much better match for the nano.
The MicroSound's battery life is rated at 12 hours, and Miglia includes a plastic miniplug cover to protect the unit's headphone plug when not in use.
As with other ultra-compact speakers we've tested, the MicroSound's sound is, well, micro. There's no bass at all, and even lower midrange is absent. What you're left with is audio that's very clear but also a bit tinny. Because the speakers are so close together, you get virtually no stereo separation. And maximum volume, although louder than I expected, is fairly low. I found the overall sound to be somewhat fatiguing over extended listening. But that's the case with most speakers this size, so it's not really a knock on the MicroSound specifically. What I did enjoy was being able to listen to podcasts out loud and on-the-go -- the MicroSound is a great accessory for this purpose -- and for brief music listening. It's also a handy accessory for using your iPod as an alarm clock while traveling.