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Tannoy i30 iPod speaker review: Tannoy i30 iPod speaker

All up, the i30 is a solid performer in a refined-looking package, but we were craving more bass from its deep drivers.

Ella Morton
Ella was an Associate Editor at CNET Australia.
Ella Morton
4 min read

Design
The i30 is shaped like a giant medication capsule, its surfaces coated in super-shiny -- and recently polarising -- piano black. With nary a square edge in sight, the speaker is decidedly softer-looking than the more blocky Griffin Evolve, Logitech's Pure-Fi Elite and the Bose SoundDock Portable.

7.4

Tannoy i30 iPod speaker

The Good

Rich, enveloping audio. Uncluttered, elegant design. Wall mountable. USB connection for synching.

The Bad

Bass is a little weak. Control is via remote, which is teeny and could get lost. Would look bulky on the wall. Pricey.

The Bottom Line

The i30 is a solid performer in a refined-looking package, if a little wanting in the bass stakes.

The most striking design feature of the i30 is the complete lack of buttons. There are no knobs, switches or keys to be found on the unit, as all volume and music control is handled by the teeny remote. This is fabulous if you are cultivating a minimalist aesthetic, but not so great if the remote's battery gives up the ghost in the middle of a raging party.

The central iPod dock -- compatible with all dock connector models thanks to the five included adaptors -- is flanked by two gunmetal grey speaker grilles. These are very tightly woven and non-removable, being built into the unit.

On the back of the unit are just two ports: a 3.5mm stereo socket for plugging in non-dock audio devices, and a USB connection for all your iTunes synching needs. The only other blips in the glossy black facade are the power socket and two screw holes for wall-mounting.

At 3.6 kilograms, the i30 is not in the portable class of iPod speakers, but it's not the heftiest of the all-in-one home dock line-up. Apple's own iPod Hi-Fi clocks in at a hernia-inducing 6.6 kilos, while the Pure-Fi Elite is equal at 3.6 kilograms.

The most notable spec is the depth, which measures 14 centimetres. If you're planning to mount the i30 on the wall, be prepared for it to stick out like the proverbial painful digit when you attach it to the similarly deep wall bracket. That's an optional extra, by the way -- such a blocky attachment wouldn't fit into Tannoy's slender treasure trove of beautifully packaged accessories. (We were appreciative of, though slightly perplexed by, the inclusion of two Union Jack badges.)

Performance
The i30's twin 10-centimetre drivers pumped out strong, enveloping audio, but bass levels lacked a certain oomph. Adele's piano-and-vocal track "Hometown Glory" rang out clear and full, with no background hiss to speak of. Tunes with a greater emphasis on the bassline, such as Kanye West's "Drive Slow" and Yo La Tengo's "The Summer", were slightly lacking in power at the lower levels. While we weren't searching for the bowel-percolating bass you get from your average hefty subwoofer, we occasionally found the bass a little, well, wimpy. This is not a dock to send the neighbours fleeing as their foundation walls crumble and fall.

There were a few peculiarities relating to volume control. Adjusting the volume level on the iPod itself has no effect on the output level, but that is pretty standard for MP3 player docks. What we found odd was the behaviour of the on-screen display when volume was adjusted via the remote control. When using an iPod Touch, pressing the volume buttons sometimes caused the iPod's volume indicator to flicker, but not move up or down. At other times, pressing the volume-increase key caused the indicator to move down. Huh?

The teeny, feather-light remote could easily get lost between sofa cushions, which is not a good thing when it's the only way to operate the dock. It feels comfy in the hand though, and the mute button is a blessing for those times when you're dancing in your pyjamas and the phone rings.

The iPod Touch and Classic are not listed in the manual as compatible models, but we found that the players slotted into the iPod Video adaptor with no problems. Our Touch wobbled a little when we pressed it, but not enough to cause annoyance. If you are finicky about fittings, you can order the correct adaptors from Apple's iPod store.

The USB connection was handy for the odd quick iTunes sync, but does raise the question: is this a dock for the lounge room or your computer desk?

All up, the i30 is a solid performer in a refined-looking package, if a little wanting in the bass stakes. We would liked to have seen a control for bass levels to allow for a bit more grunt, but this would likely spoil the button-free status Tannoy has carefully cultivated.

Our other complaint is price. Tannoy has a reputation as a fancy British audio firm, but six hundred clams for an iPod dock is a bit steep. The Griffin Evolve may sport the same price tag, but that model's feature list stretches far beyond that of the i30.