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GINI iTube review: GINI iTube

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Two solid-sounding satellite speakers (16 watts each, 4.5 by 5.5 by 7 inches) with gold-plated binding posts, and an exposed driver (the tweeter is housed behind metal mesh) come bundled with the iTube. The back of the iTube includes an attached power cord, a power switch, and stereo RCA inputs and outputs. Though the system is marketed and designed for a white iPod, it'll work with any audio device via the RCA line input. The iTube is bundled with two sets of RCA-to-speaker wire cables and an RCA-to-1/8th-inch cable. You also get an infrared remote control that mimics the front panel controller.

If you want slicker iPod integration, you can add the iConec ($69), a decent iPod dock with its own remote control. The circular dock ships with a variety of dock modules and it includes a stereo RCA output, power input, USB out (dock connector style), and an S-video output. The front of the unit features line-level volume up and down. We really like the puffy-buttoned remote control because it lets you skip through playlists and albums. You can also use your own dock and remote control system.

The $79 iConec is a pretty decent iPod dock

While the iTube has been compared to a trash can and generally is considered "big," "ugly", and/or "too much of an iPod ripoff," it does sound spectacular. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? There's enough power to fill a room with sound that is (again) warm, smooth, and balanced. Bass is tight but not overpowering (even at the highest bass setting), and the mids and highs mesh very well with the whole. The system added presence to Regina Spektor's voice in Dusseldorf while each strum of the guitar in U2's Stuck in a Moment sounded amazingly live. Electronic music was equally impressive. The tube amp's ability to smooth out the "rough edges" of a compressed file is definitely noticeable, and the soundstage is certainly wide. We did, however, detect a slight electronic buzz when we operated either remote control.

If you can get past the looks and lack of out-of-the-box iPod integration, the iTube will definitely impress even the pickiest listener, though we're still big fans of the more attractive and powerful Klipsch iFi.

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