XtremeMac is no stranger in iPod accessory land, but the company made its first foray into the tabletop audio arena with the Tango. (XtremeMac now also offers an iPod radio alarm clock, the Luna.) Indeed, the Tango looks a bit like a tabletop itself, a design that won't appeal to all users. However, we do have to give XtremeMac credit for coming up with a creative, music-centric product name. Of course, no one wants to tango to poor audio quality. Luckily, the Tango succeeds at offering decent music playback and plenty of bass. At $199.95, this speaker system ain't exactly cheap, so make sure you have all its faults and merits in mind before you go plunking down that credit card.
The XtremeMac Tango isn't ugly per se, but not everyone will like the look--it's rather stark. In fact, it reminds us a lot of the Apple iPod Hi-Fi, and although the Tango has a smaller footprint, it still takes up a decent chunk of tabletop real estate at 14.5x10x5 inches. It's a simple design with a single piece of high-gloss plastic curving over the top to form the supports on the sides. A simple black speaker grille covers the front of the unit, while the rear houses various ports: S-Video, A/V out, auxiliary line-in, and DC power in. On the top of the Tango, you'll find the iPod dock as well as three silver buttons for controlling power and volume. Those and additional controls reside on the included remote.
XtremeMac doesn't note what wireless technology the remote uses--radio frequency (RF) or infrared (IR)--but it's safe to assume IR, since it doesn't work through walls. It does, however, work well in direct line-of-sight from 25 or so feet away, which is sufficient for most uses. In addition to power and volume control, the remote allows you to pause and skip tracks as well as adjust bass and treble levels. Unfortunately, the Tango doesn't offer any visual indication of what the levels are set to at any given time, but the remote includes a key for resetting bass and treble to "center." In addition to the remote, XtremeMac includes a power brick (with a 69-inch cable and five international adapters) and three iPod dock adapters--one for the 30GB iPod with video, one for the 60GB and 80GB versions, and one for the Nano.
During our audio testing, we found it slightly difficult to judge the Tango's performance. Certain songs, such as selections from Shakira, D12, and Roots Manuva, sounded so great that we were tempted to sequester ourselves in the listening room and slack off on writing this review. These tunes sounded rich, full, and clear, with that kind of deep low-end that bass addicts fiend for. Other songs--hard rock tracks, notably--provided less-than-stellar results. Selections from The Mars Volta and DJ Z-Trip suffered from a vibrating hum that was annoying enough to prompt an unconscious jab at the fast-forward button. Plus, we could detect audible background hiss during the quieter moments of most tracks. Still, when the Tango was playing the vibration-free tunes it sounded great--and the unit can get sufficiently loud enough to fuel a medium-sized party--so if you're not a rock fan, it could be a worthy investment.