iPod is the new black. And with iPods and their accessories now coming in two different shades, the idea that a white colour scheme is "iPoddy" could soon be redundant.
Jamo's i300 is the latest gadget to receive a black lick of paint, after having been on the market a while, but still demonstrates that it's all about great sound.
Jamo came quite late to the iPod dock party, but their patience paid off. In effect, there are really only two serious choices for hi-fi iPod accessories: Jamo and Monitor Audio. Both companies tackle the problem differently: Jamo go the PC/home theatre route of a sub and two satellites with the i300; while Monitor Audio go for a mini hi-fi look in their i-Deck system.
The Jamo 75W satellites use three-inch woofers with an integrated tweeter, and the 6.5 inch subwoofer is rated at 150W. In addition to the three speakers, the Jamo i300 also includes an external iPod dock with a volume control. This connects to the sub, which, in turn, houses the amplifier, and auxiliary audio input.
Unlike the Monitor Audio i-Deck, it is possible to change the volume from the main unit, as well as control the subwoofer volume. Navigation is via the iPod itself.
One feature we like, and one which is counter-intuitive for most hi-fis, is that the auxiliary input doesn't disable the iPod input. This means that you can plug it into your computer and use your iPod at the same time.
After testing the excellent home-theatre-in-a-box, we found the i300 to be left a little in its wake. While the two products use seemingly identical satellites, the i300's sub simply isn't as good as the A 102 HCS 10's. Unless they are set correctly, the i300 has a tendency for muddy-sounding bass, which is hard to control as there is only a bass volume control -- no fancy bias or equalisation here.
Perhaps it's a matter of physics: a six-inch sub will never push as much air as the HCS 10's eight-inch model. As an example, the bass and vocal in Nick Cave and the Bad Seed's Red Right Hand sound disconnected where they should be distinct, and each vying for your attention.
The satellites, as we've mentioned before, are fantastic, and flatter acoustic music especially. But given the right material, dance, hip-hop and rock can also sound forceful and stomping. The stereo image is excellent for a device of this type, and detail is up there with the best iPod accessories -- even if the sound is lacking in some warmth. Using a PC will work well, as will movie watching, where a stronger bass won't matter as much.
One issue is that the RRP of the i300 is still AU$100 more than all of its competitors -- Bose, Klipsch and Monitor Audio -- and while we have seen it available for AU$500 you really have to search. The Monitor Audio already slays it, but if you can get it cheaper, what are you waiting for?
If you want to listen to music, go for the i-Deck, but if you want a relatively flexible system that is better than most other competitors, this is a good option.