Kicker ZK500 review: Kicker ZK500

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MSRP: $248.99

The Good The Kicker ZK500 is one of the loudest speaker systems designed for the Microsoft Zune MP3 player, and it includes audio and video outputs, an auxiliary audio input, and a remote control.

The Bad The Kicker ZK500 doesn't include an alarm clock, radio, or battery power, and its sound quality lacks at modest volume levels.

The Bottom Line The Kicker ZK500 Zune speaker system is both physically and sonically intimidating, but it doesn't come cheap.

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7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 8

When it comes to MP3 player accessories, Zune owners have few choices compared to their iPod-wielding peers. Fortunately, the Kicker ZK500 speaker dock ($300) and its built-in 40-watt amplifier provide Zune-sters an equal opportunity aggravate their neighbors and rock-out at deafening levels.

The Kicker ZK500 uses a menacing all-black pyramid design that would look at home in Darth Vader's living room. Measuring 8.5 inches high by 19 inches wide by 8.5 inches deep, the Kicker ZK500 is ideally proportioned as a bookshelf or tabletop stereo, but too large for a nightstand. Two plastic handles are found on the back of the Kicker ZK500, however, with a total weight of 9.2 pounds and no option for battery power, you won't be moving the system around much. Also on the back of the Kicker ZK500 are a 3.5mm auxiliary audio input, composite video, RCA audio output, and a 6-inch bass reflex port.

The front of the Kicker ZK500 is tastefully spare, with a 2.5-inch blue LCD up top, a multifunction backlit dial below it, a set of stereo speakers, and a dock compatible with all Zune models (including first-generation, second-generation, and flash). The Kicker ZK500's dial navigation system is easy to use, especially since features are few. Pushing the dial switches between settings (EQ, volume, and auxiliary), which are displayed on the Kicker ZK500's LCD and adjusted with a turn of the dial.

The Kicker ZK500 is more brawn than brain, with a short list of features similar to the comparably priced Bose SoundDock and Klipsch iGroove. Included on the Kicker ZK500 are a 3.5mm auxiliary audio input, RCA audio output, composite video output, and bass and treble EQ settings capable of nine degrees of boost or cut. A remote control is also included with the Kicker ZK500, with buttons that mimic every function of the Zune's own navigation control pad.

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