CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
The Griffin Amplifi is a stylish, powerful iPod speaker system that's offered at an attractive price ($149). Compared with the heavyweights in the iPod speaker system market, the Amplifi lacks the refined sound of the Bose SoundDock (at twice the price), or the portability of the Altec Lansing iM600 or iM7. What it does deliver is loud, balanced, powerful sound, with a sleek design and an outstanding value.
Griffin products always seem to have that Ikea-esque match of modern design and affordable prices--the Amplifi is a perfect example of this. The enclosure is relatively large, measuring approximately 14 inches wide, 5.5 inches tall, and 9 inches deep. Design purists will appreciate that the Amplifi's controls have been boiled down to a single knob, plus a remote control. With such a knob-centric design, Griffin pulled out all the stops and slapped a really nice, hi-fi style aluminum knob on the front and even illuminated it with blue LED trim. The knob is a little wobbly, but it gives the system a classy touch.
While the speaker grills on the front and bottom of the Amplifi are perforated metal, most of the enclosure is wood and plastic. It's also quite heavy, weighing around 12 pounds. The extra weight can be great for projecting sound, but it does make the system less than portable. Bear in mind that Griffin has simultaneously released a product called Journi, explicitly intended as an on-the-go iPod speaker solution.
The Amplifi's features match its design--spare. Unlike much of its competition, the Amplifi offers no EQ, stereo enhancement, video output, FM radio, or USB pass-through connection. On the back panel, you'll find a DC power jack and a stereo minijack line input--that's it. The six-button IR remote control (rated at 30 feet) is similarly restrained, offering basic controls for volume, play/pause, track skip, and power. Amplifi also includes six iPod dock adapters, as well as international plug fittings for the power supply.
Presumably, with a system like Amplifi, you're paying for power and performance over features. The front grill hides two 2.75-inch neodymium drivers, spaced approximately 9 inches apart. Flip the Amplifi on its back, and you'll find the real secret behind the system's big sound--a 5-inch woofer with a 1.5-inch bass-reflex port off to the side.
The Amplifi gets loud--not the distorted loud you hear cranking up the stereo in a Ford Escort, but the kind of clean, full-range loud you want when listening to AC/DC. In fact, unlike many systems we've tested, the Amplifi actually sounded better at loud volumes than at tamer levels. The 5-inch woofer certainly delivers on bass, but it's by no means overwhelming. The bass on Rick James' "Give it to Me Baby" sounded deep and punchy, and the guitar on the White Stripes' "Let's Build a Home" positively wailed.
While the Amplifi has more than enough volume to fill a room or even power a small house party, its sound quality is on the blunt end of the spectrum. iPod speaker systems such as the Altec Lansing iM600 or Klipsch iGroove present better sparkle and clarity on the high-end, as well as improved stereo separation.
Despite some drawbacks, the Amplifi's ability to produce loud, rich music is unmatched at this price. If you're more concerned about portability than power, take a look at collapsible and rechargeable iPod speaker systems such as Griffin's Journi and Altec Lansing's iM600.