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Klipsch RoomGroove (iPod speaker system) review: Klipsch RoomGroove (iPod speaker system)

Klipsch RoomGroove (iPod speaker system)

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
4 min read

At first glance, Klipsch's RoomGroove iPod speaker looks like just another iPod speaker. Sure, its clean lines and black cloth grille are a step up from the typical plastic boxes, but what makes the RoomGroove a bit more interesting is that you can link one RoomGroove to additional units in other rooms to create a multiroom system. In other words, if you're willing to invest in a second RoomGroove, you can listen to your kitchen-based iPod in your bedroom, for instance.


Klipsch RoomGroove (iPod speaker system)

The Good

iPod speaker system with wireless "KlipschCast" that allows it to link one or more RoomGroove speakers for multiroom operation; relatively rich sound; clean-cut design.

The Bad

For the price, it should have additional features, including video output, radio, and/or Internet audio support; you need to buy a second KlipschCast product to take advantage of the wireless feature, which isn't compatible with non-Klipsch products.

The Bottom Line

The Klipsch RoomGroove is a solid-sounding iPod speaker, but you'll need at least two of them to take advantage of the wireless transmission feature.

As for design, Klipsch keeps it simple and elegant. The top edge of the RoomGroove's gently curved front panel has just a few buttons: volume up, power, and Transmit and Listen controls (for sending or receiving wireless audio to fellow RoomGrooves). The rest of the front is covered with a non-removable black cloth grille, and the retractable iPod dock is centered on the lower edge (a gentle push on the drawer makes it open or close).

The RoomGroove measures 7 inches high by 15.75 inches wide by 4.6 inches deep, and it weighs 6 pounds, but the plastic cabinet feels sturdy and solid. The system comes with a set of five iPod dock adapters and an external AC power supply box that snaps into place on the rear of the speaker. The power cable can be wrapped around the power supply to eliminate the unsightly jumble of wire behind the unit; there's no battery option, so don't expect to use it as a portable boombox. Klipsch offers an optional wall-mount bracket in case you want to hang the unit up.

Around the back of the unit you'll find an auxiliary (line-in) input for hooking other audio devices--anything with a headphone or line-out jack--but there's no video output for displaying your iPod videos on a TV. (By contrast, the half-as-expensive step-down iGroove SXT features a video output.) Of course, the RoomGroove will charge your iPod over its 30-pin connector. But aside from the wireless option, the feature list is pretty bare: no built-in radio, clock/alarm, or anything else.

The RoomGroove comes with a credit-card style remote that only controls volume, iPod/aux selector, play/pause, and track skip buttons. Accessing menu functions is a hands-on iPod operation. Other than that little hassle, the RoomGroove is easy to use.

Klipsch is known for its "horn" loaded stereo and home theater speakers, and it's applied that technology to the RoomGroove's 1-inch tweeters to increase the system's efficiency, dynamic range, and minimize floor and tabletop reflections that would adversely affect its sound. Klipsch is the only iPod speaker manufacturer we know of to incorporate horn tweeters. The RoomGroove also has a pair of 2.5-inch woofers. As for the stereo system's power rating, it isn't specified, other than to say it's a Class D (digital) amplifier.

As for performance, the RoomGroove has a big, dynamic sound, with powerful bass. Even when we pumped up the Rolling Stones nice and loud, the compact speaker didn't cry uncle. The soaring vocal harmonies of bluegrass rockers The Avett Brothers were quite credible. We listened up close, within 2 or 3 feet, and from the other side of the room, and the RoomGroove sounded fine at any reasonable distance. Like virtually all single-chassis iPod speakers, however, don't expect a great deal of stereo separation. If that's a priority, opt for the component-based Klipsch iFi or the wireless speakers of the Griffin Evolve.

As noted, the RoomGroove is equipped with Klipsch's own wireless audio system, dubbed "KlipschCast." That means that a RoomGroove can transmit to one or more RoomGrooves located elsewhere in the house (Klipsch claims the system has a maximum transmitting/receiving distance of 75 feet). Doing so is really straightforward: You simply press the "Transmit" button on the RoomGroove to send music to other RoomGrooves and press the "Listen" button to hear what's playing on any RoomGrooves in other rooms (the Listen button glows red when receiving signals from a remote RoomGroove, and blue when you are listening to the iPod in its dock). You can skip tracks on the iPod from the remote location, but there's no way to access the menu on the iPod in the other room.

Sending music to or receiving it from other KlipschCast-compatible audio systems is as easy as hitting the "Transmit" or "Listen" buttons, respectively.

To eliminate possible interference with other 2.4 GHz wireless devices such as cordless phones or wireless routers, the RoomGroove features a user selectable Home Code, with "0" as the factory default setting. If problems arise--or if your neighbor buys the same product--you simply set your RoomGrooves to one of the other nine codes.

It's also worth noting that Klipsch will be releasing a KlipschCast-compatible home-theater-in-a-box system, the CS-700, in the spring of 2008 (nearly a year after it was originally scheduled). That system will be able to send audio from its any of its audio sources (built-in CD/DVD player, AM/FM radio, AV inputs) to other RoomGroove systems in a home. The RoomGroove remote will even let you toggle between them--but to do anything more elaborate (change a station), you'll need to return to the main system and do so manually.

At the end of the day, the Klipsch RoomGroove is a good-sounding iPod speaker, but you're paying a premium price--around $300--for the wireless feature. So, is it worth it? As with all of these proprietary systems, it comes down to whether or not you're going to invest in--and stick with--the whole Klipsch "ecosystem." And with at least two RoomGrooves costing $600 total, that's a pretty big investment. If that suits your needs, feel free to jump in. Otherwise, opt for one of the many other more full-featured iPod speaker systems available for less, or consider investing in a more effective multiroom digital audio solution such as the Sonos or the Logitech Squeezebox Duet.


Klipsch RoomGroove (iPod speaker system)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 7