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XtremeMac Tango Studio review: XtremeMac Tango Studio

XtremeMac Tango Studio

David Carnoy
David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
3 min read

It's important to put the XtremeMac Tango Studio in its proper place in the iPod-speaker food chain. At $60, the Tango definitely falls into the budget class. You can find iPod speakers for a bit less, but $60 is affordable--and if you look at the Tango Studio in this context, it's reasonably good. However, in the grand scheme of things, it's nothing to write home about.


XtremeMac Tango Studio

The Good

Compact iPod speaker with understated minimalist styling; retractable iPod dock; built-in FM radio and auxiliary line-in jack; slick blue LED; very inexpensive.

The Bad

No presets for radio; no clock or alarm; thin sound.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a budget-priced iPod speaker, the XtremeMac Tango Studio has some redeeming qualities--just don't expect big, rich sound.

What you're getting is a compact, understated speaker that has a built-in FM radio, a retractable iPod dock, an auxiliary line-in jack for connecting other audio gear, and a wireless remote that controls your iPod's basic functions (volume, track advance/skip back).

The Tango Studio has a couple of nice design features. We liked that the iPod dock is retractable. This feature lets you can tuck away the dock when you're done listening to the speaker. We also dug the blue LED light that sits in the middle of the speaker and shows through the speaker grill. It displays all pertinent information, including volume levels, radio station numbers, and what source you're on (iPod, radio, or Aux).

The unit measures 6.5 inches tall by 11.5 inches wide by 3.875 inches deep and weighs a little more than 3 pounds. While it's small, this model doesn't have a bay for batteries and it isn't designed to be portable. But it can obviously be moved from room to room very easily. Also, like other iPod speaker systems, it charges your iPod when it's docked. (The Tango Studio is compatible with the latest generation of iPods and iPhones, though you should put your iPhone in Airplane mode to avoid the buzzing associated with radio frequency interference.)

As far as sound goes, the Tango Studio measures well against other iPod speakers in its price class. However, as you might expect from a unit this size, it's not endowed with a great deal of bass. Like other tabletop stereo speaker systems that have their two speakers essentially side by side, there's very little in the way of stereo separation. As a result, this little guy sounds best from about three feet away. After that, you're basically listening to a sound coming from a glorified clock radio. Again, it's not terrible, and we can see how this might work just fine in an office, a teenager's bedroom or a dorm room (it may not exactly fill a small room with sound, but you can hear it throughout the room).

For this price, we don't expect such features as a video output for displaying iPod video on a TV, but we would have liked a few presets for the radio. As it is, you have to manually scan until you hit a station (you can use the remote or the tuning button on top of the unit), and it should be noted that we did have some trouble pulling in less powerful radio stations. Also missing from the Tango Studio is any sort of clock or alarm system.

Notably, step-up iPod speaker models in XtremeMac's line address some of the shortcomings of the Tango Studio. The $120 Luna X2 adds an alarm clock, as well as an FM and AM radio with 8 presets. The Tango X2 improves on the bass-heavy dedicated subwoofer of the original Tango by adding a 6-preset AM/FM radio.

In the end, the lack of radio presets is really the only major complaint we had on this model. For the price, the Tango Studio isn't a bad deal. If you're willing to pay a little more than $100, you'll find a wider selection of options with better sound--and potentially a few more features. However, if a basic unit with OK sound is all you're really looking for, the XtremeMac Tango Studio fits the bill.


XtremeMac Tango Studio

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 5Performance 5
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