The Blue Raven Maestro 1070 is an 18-pound, 70-watt iPod speaker system that is all about power. Given its size (17.75x7.25x7.5 inches) and weight, the Maestro is not the kind of dainty boombox that you take out for a picnic--it's a room-filling, window-rattling, black-and-chrome beast.
In spite of its name, however, the Maestro's sound quality does not stand up to scrutiny. The system is heavy on bass and lacks the high-end clarity and stereo separation that fans of jazz, classical, and other acoustic genres would appreciate. That said, if you're looking for an affordable way to tick off the neighbors, the Maestro is certainly one of the loudest iPod speaker systems we've tested in this price range. Its two 3-inch tweeters and 5-inch woofer have no trouble blasting away higher fidelity systems such as the Bose SoundDock or the Altec Lansing IM600.
The Maestro 1070 includes three key features: a video output for playing iPod video through to your television; an auxiliary input for connecting non-iPod audio sources; and a remote control. We were happy to see that the remote control offers the rare ability to jump in and out of the iPod's onscreen menus. Unfortunately, unlike the DLO HomeDock Deluxe or the Griffin TuneCenter, the Maestro does not allow the iPod's menus to display through to your television. The whole point is rather moot, since we couldn't get the remote to work unless we were directly in front of the Maestro. Attempting to use the remote at an angle, or even just 5 feet away, produced nothing but frustration.
One of the Maestro 1070's more competitive features is the inclusion of adjustable bass and treble EQ settings. While a built-in EQ sounds like a great asset for an iPod speaker system, we found it odd that it could only be controlled using the flawed IR remote. Furthermore, unlike the Apple Hi-Fi's ability to use the iPod screen to display current EQ values, the Maestro leaves you to guess at whether the bass is set to zero or full blast. We would have preferred some kind of hardware EQ on the Maestro, allowing us tone control long after the remote gets lost between our couch cushions.
The Maestro 1070 is attractive, inexpensive, and loud. This system would be right at home in a dorm room or at a house party, but the Blue Raven Maestro 1070 will fail to satisfy people who are picky about audio quality or need a portable system that can easily be moved between rooms.