At first glance, Klipsch's RoomGroove iPod speaker looks like just another iPod speaker. Sure, its clean lines and black cloth grille are a step up from the typical plastic boxes, but what makes the RoomGroove a bit more interesting is that you can link one RoomGroove to additional units in other rooms to create a multiroom system. In other words, if you're willing to invest in a second RoomGroove, you can listen to your kitchen-based iPod in your bedroom, for instance.
As for design, Klipsch keeps it simple and elegant. The top edge of the RoomGroove's gently curved front panel has just a few buttons: volume up, power, and Transmit and Listen controls (for sending or receiving wireless audio to fellow RoomGrooves). The rest of the front is covered with a non-removable black cloth grille, and the retractable iPod dock is centered on the lower edge (a gentle push on the drawer makes it open or close).
The RoomGroove measures 7 inches high by 15.75 inches wide by 4.6 inches deep, and it weighs 6 pounds, but the plastic cabinet feels sturdy and solid. The system comes with a set of five iPod dock adapters and an external AC power supply box that snaps into place on the rear of the speaker. The power cable can be wrapped around the power supply to eliminate the unsightly jumble of wire behind the unit; there's no battery option, so don't expect to use it as a portable boombox. Klipsch offers an optional wall-mount bracket in case you want to hang the unit up.
Around the back of the unit you'll find an auxiliary (line-in) input for hooking other audio devices--anything with a headphone or line-out jack--but there's no video output for displaying your iPod videos on a TV. (By contrast, the half-as-expensive step-down iGroove SXT features a video output.) Of course, the RoomGroove will charge your iPod over its 30-pin connector. But aside from the wireless option, the feature list is pretty bare: no built-in radio, clock/alarm, or anything else.
The RoomGroove comes with a credit-card style remote that only controls volume, iPod/aux selector, play/pause, and track skip buttons. Accessing menu functions is a hands-on iPod operation. Other than that little hassle, the RoomGroove is easy to use.
Klipsch is known for its "horn" loaded stereo and home theater speakers, and it's applied that technology to the RoomGroove's 1-inch tweeters to increase the system's efficiency, dynamic range, and minimize floor and tabletop reflections that would adversely affect its sound. Klipsch is the only iPod speaker manufacturer we know of to incorporate horn tweeters. The RoomGroove also has a pair of 2.5-inch woofers. As for the stereo system's power rating, it isn't specified, other than to say it's a Class D (digital) amplifier.
As for performance, the RoomGroove has a big, dynamic sound, with powerful bass. Even when we pumped up the Rolling Stones nice and loud, the compact speaker didn't cry uncle. The soaring vocal harmonies of bluegrass rockers The Avett Brothers were quite credible. We listened up close, within 2 or 3 feet, and from the other side of the room, and the RoomGroove sounded fine at any reasonable distance. Like virtually all single-chassis iPod speakers, however, don't expect a great deal of stereo separation. If that's a priority, opt for the component-based Klipsch iFi or the wireless speakers of the Griffin Evolve.