IK Multimedia has recently released the iLoud and I've been going out of my way to avoid reviews of it as a reviewer (I'm trying to maintain some objectivity here), but it's been popping up on Twitter and no-one's been saying anything bad. When my review unit arrived, I understood why.
First, the iLoud is small. Not so small you would lose it, but small and light enough that you could easily fit it in a bag or backpack for travel. It also runs on either direct inputs or Bluetooth, so if you want to set it up in a corner and never worry about moving it, you can. It's portable though and can run on internal rechargeable batteries. This is a huge plus because buying batteries is a huge, expensive pain but having a set of speakers that I can bring outside with me (or anywhere else I please) is a great thing. Don't get me wrong, you can still plug it in to the wall and keep it stationary if you like, but to me that's missing out on the main draw. Anyone can sit still and listen to music, but you're often inside and there's a bright joyful world OUTSIDE, so why not just hang out on your apartment balcony or in your backyard and listen to some music as you watch the clouds drift by and enjoy a breeze?
I obviously mean on a nice day, not this time of year. Brrrrrr!
The sonic power of the iLoud is impressive with a potential 40 watts being pumped into the atmosphere which is powerful. Really powerful. More powerful than both of my guitar amps combined kind of powerful. And the sound is VERY clear. I'm used to aftermarket iPhone music players, some that even use the 30-pin connecter rather than the headphone jack (and therefore should be of a higher fidelity), but the speakers always suck. iLoud, on the other hand, is crystal clear in the audio with a nice flat response. Some people don't like flat EQs and just love their bass and to these people, IK Multimedia offers a tip: put the iLoud in a corner and let your walls add to your bass. Not that I think the bass NEEDS any help - I was able to hear it clearly while upstairs when my son was listening to "Against Me!" downstairs.
The battery in the iLoud is reported to last with about 10 hours of use which is more than enough to get me through a normal day, but the biggest perk of the battery is that you don't have to constantly worry about it while you're using it. The security of knowing that it will last from the time you unplug it through sitting on the porch listening to music as you drink your coffee, or setting it on the bathroom counter to serenade you as you shower, or sitting there listening to music or podcasts, or just rocking out with your guitar and never having to worry about the battery on this normal-use day? Pretty sweet.
Oh, the guitar thing? Yeah, you can also play guitar through it, which is pretty much the coolest feature of the iLoud. You just plug your guitar into the iLoud, then plug your phone (or tablet) into the iLoud as well using the included wire connecter from your phone/tablet's headphone jack direct to the iLoud. The iLoud is wired with an iRig inside it so you don't need another connecter somewhere in the mix. As cool as it would be to use the iRig HD inside, having an installed iRig is still pretty awesome because you're able to plug in both phone and guitar into the iLoud and reap benefits like not having to share your nasty, disgusting ear buds with other people who have equally disgusting ears (*shudder*), having greater range of head motion since your skull is not tethered to the phone/tablet (who doesn't love greater range of motion?), and being able to hear what your guitar is sounding like in the ROOM rather than just in your ears. Those are really big perks!
At $300.00 from IK's website the iLoud isn't the cheapest set of Bluetooth speakers, but the quality makes it worth the price and truly get what you pay for in this case. Add to that the size, power, portability, and the fact that you can plug your guitar right into it and rock out anywhere you want and it the price starts to make sense. I fully recommend saving up for this because it is the coolest device and your whole family will love it. I use it just as much on the kitchen counter while I cook as I do actually doing recording work. I like being able to set a mood to the room and not having my music follow me around constantly changing the volume for everyone else based on the tiny, tinny speakers of the iPhone. It's perfect for normal home use, it's fantastic for parties, and as a guitarist it is a fantastic tool to monitor your recordings or just to rock out wherever you want.