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TEAC iTB1000 iPod dock review: TEAC iTB1000 iPod dock

The TEAC iTB1000 sits at the top of the "party" dock food chain with no known predators, but other devices give better bang for buck.

Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury
4 min read

Up until now most iPod docks have taken the form of mini hi-fi systems, with a space for the iPod where once there was a CD or tape deck. The TEAC iTB1000 has deviated from this approach, and is more akin to the jukebox systems you'd hire for a 21st birthday party. It even has disco lights. But AU$650, are they kidding?

7.7

TEAC iTB1000 iPod dock

The Good

Surprisingly good sound. Goes very, very loud. AM/FM radio. Ruggedly built.

The Bad

Costlier than most docks. Terrible touch-panel controls. Pathetic "disco" lighting. Some mobile phone speakers have better "stereo" response.

The Bottom Line

The TEAC iTB1000 sits at the top of the "party" dock food chain with no known predators, but other devices give better bang for buck.

Design and features
Calling the iTB1000 an iPod speaker dock is like referring to a Hummer limousine as a car. This bears very little resemblance to your cute little speaker docks. To say this thing is absolutely freaking massive is understating the state of play by only a little. At 1.1m tall, and a hernia-baiting 18.2kg, this is the largest iPod dock we'd ever hope to see. It's solidly built, and even comes with the type of industrial-strength carry handle you'd usually see on guitar amps. As far as the shape is concerned, imagine a door wedge placed on its end and you're there — the bit that would usually be gripping the floor is the speaker part.

Underneath the usual speaker grill lives a three-way speaker system. You get two fabric tweeters, two three-inch mid-range woofers and a separate six-inch subwoofer. The sub is ported, and comes with an on/off switch mounted on the back.

The remote is relatively classy for an iPod dock, and while it doesn't provide much in the way of functionality it does let you control the iPod. But since you can't view the iPod's interface via the video-out the menu buttons aren't very useful — if you can read the iPod screen you're close enough to touch it anyway. We do like the ATT/MUTE button, however, one press attenuates and two presses mutes the dock.

If you want an iPod dock with features, then the TEAC provides them: it has an AM/FM radio with alarm clock, S-Video out and a "colour LED subwoofer" — or "disco lights". The front-mounted controls are touch-capacitive and stand out with their red backlight. The LCD display, on the other hand, not so much. It's a simple affair with an off-white backlight.

Performance
We'll admit that we didn't have many expectations for the performance of the TEAC, and in this way it surprised us. We've seen plenty of sub-standard docks in our time, and we're pleasantly surprised to say this is one of the better ones. While it's not "hi-fi" in the same way that the Monitor Audio i-Deck or the B&W Zeppelin is it actually has less lofty aspirations. It wants to rock your party!

Considering that the two "stereo" drivers are centimetres apart there's not that much in the way of stereo separation. This isn't a dock for sitting and appreciating jazz fusion or the like: it's designed to turn up loud. And we found it did this quite well, coping with the complexities of LCD Soundsystem's bowel-rumbling bass, at full bore, without cracking a sweat. This system will run — that's run and not ruin — many a house party.

But if you feel like notching down the adrenalin levels a tad then you'll find that the "Tall Boy" can handle it: Nick Drake's Pink Moon worked a lot better than we imagined it would, though the guitar was a little too boomy. The system certainly provides lots of treble, and vocals have a reasonable amount of detail, but due to the physics of the thing there's a bunch of lower mid-range missing. While you can turn sub off, we suggest you don't. It just sounds a little thin, and the amount of bass wasn't unpleasant enough to warrant turning it off.

While the iTB1000 sounds better than your average mini-system it does compete with the LG FB163, a device half the price which will also play DVDs and was tuned by "hi-fi professional" Mark Levinson.

While the TEAC's a very good unit it does have a couple of downsides. Firstly, and most humorously, the "colour LED subwoofer" is a bit of a joke, small LEDs in the base flash in time to the music, but they won't get your disco moving — unless you stand very, very close to the bottom of the unit. We flicked off all the lights in the room and had to squint to see the LEDs flicker at all.

Secondly, the sound is quite directional, which is quite unusual for a unit designed to spread music over a large area. You'll need to sit dead-on to the unit or miss the subtleties and presence this unit is capable of. While it's twice the price of the TEAC, the Zeppelin is so much better at filling a room with sound.

Lastly, the interface is quite confusing — particularly on the front of the unit. As the buttons are capacitive you have to press them multiple times — each with an attendant beep — instead of holding them down to do tasks such as tuning the radio. This gets old. And some of the pictograms aren't even buttons, while others have multiple functions that can only be worked out through trial and error. Messy.

Conclusion
At present, there aren't really any competitors to the TEAC, though the now-defunct iPod Hi-Fi was better at all of the things the TEAC aspires to: room-filling sound, hi-fi delusions, *cough* portability *cough*. In its absence, however, this is a room-filling speaker system with a difference. Just don't lose the remote.