When we reviewed Logic 3’s original i-Station back in May 2005, we were impressed: The $100 i-Station (now retroactively called the i-Station 6) provided sound quality that was nearly as good as the then-market-leading $180 Altec Lansing inMotion iM3, but for as little as half the price. Since then, the iPod portable speaker market has become quite a bit more competitive, and Logic 3 has responded with the new i-Station7.
The i-Station7 is basically the original i-Station with a number of useful improvements. (I encourage you to read our feature review of the original i-Station, at http://playlistmag.com/reviews/2005/05/istationrev/index.php, for the full rundown on that system’s design and features.) For starters, the i-Station7 uses Apple’s Universal Dock design, so it fits any dockable iPod using Apple’s Universal Dock adapters. (Newer iPods include their own model-specific adapters; adapters for older dockable iPods are included with the i-Station7.) The i-Station7 also includes a wireless, infrared remote that includes the standard buttons — power, play/pause, forward, back, and volume up/down — but also includes buttons for shuffle, repeat, next/previous album, next/previous playlist, and to toggle Logic 3’s “3D” processor. (Unfortunately, there’s no place on the i-Station7 to store the remote.) You also get a dedicated iPod dock connector for connecting the i-Station7 to your computer to sync your iPod (instead of the mini-FireWire and mini-USB ports found on the original i-Station) and slightly larger speaker drivers. Finally, in response to criticism that the original i-Station’s front-mounted power button made it too easy for the system to be accidentally turned on during transit — for example, while bouncing around in your suitcase — Logic 3 added a hardware On/Off switch on the back of the i-Station7 that overrides the front power button.
These new features make the i-Station7 a significant improvement over the original i-Station in terms of functionality. Yet Logic 3 has added these attributes while keeping the price the same: $100. And if the original i-Station’s street pricing is any indication, you should be able to find the i-Station7 for as little as $80.
How does the i-Station7 sound? Very similar to the original. However, thanks to the 7’s slightly larger drivers, the i-Station7 has a bit better bass (actually upper bass in systems of this size) and warmer midrange. Logic 3’s 3D processor also performs differently in the 7: You don’t get quite as “spacious” an effect as you did with the original i-Station, but on the positive side, the i-Station7’s 3D processor doesn’t distort at moderate volumes the way the original did. Overall, I’d give the i-Station7’s audio performance the nod for small but noticeable improvements.
The i-Station7 won’t give you the kind of sound quality you’ll get with some of the more expensive portable speaker systems, such as Logitech’s excellent $150 mm50. But for under $100, I haven’t seen a portable iPod speaker system that sounds better or gives you as many useful features.–Dan Frakes