The ICR6806DT’s feature set sounds promising: with four EQ settings, an adjustable snooze feature, FM and AM bands (each with ten presets), a full-featured remote control, video output, and a smart-looking design, the iLive seems like it would be a winner. Yet execution is everything, and in most respects this system fails miserably.
The 13″ wide by 4.75″ deep by 6.5″ high unit has an iPod dock cradle at the base of the front, with speakers set behind it — it looks similar to the many “desktop” iPod speaker systems, such as Bose’s SoundDock. The design is nice to look at, but unfortunately, the way iLive has implemente it makes the system top-heavy. Since the iLive’s controls are located along the top edge of the unit, this means that it’s extremely easy to knock the system over. The smallish snooze button doesn’t help things in this respect — rather than pressing the snooze button, I was prone to slapping the entire unit over onto its back.
The ICR6806DT also features a bright, blue-backlit LED, which is likewise attractive — until you realize that it can’t be turned off; those who prefer a dark room may not find it as appealing.
How’s the sound quality? In a word: bad. When in iPod mode, there is a constant distorted buzz, present even when a the player is paused. When listening to “Kind of Blue,” Miles Davis’ beautiful trumpet sounds like a tin horn. Bass notes sound terrible, midrange worse, and don’t get me started on drums.
As for the AM/FM radio, of the three stations that I use when testing radio reception, the ICR6806DT could not receive the weakest one whatsoever; it had only poor reception with the middle one; and when tuned to the third — a strong signal prone to bleeding into adjoining stations — the iLive sounded about the same as most systems do when tuned to a weak station.
I was also disappointed by the apparent construction quality of the ICR6806DT, and the instruction manual is so filled with spelling and grammar mistakes that I found it difficult to follow.
On the positive side, the ICR6806DT includes a handy USB port for connecting a first-generation iPod shuffle. Although the audio quality isn’t any better when using a shuffle, you can at least use the iLive system to charge your player.
The ICR6806DT performed poorly in nearly every respect — sound quality, radio reception, what have you.–Mathew Honan