Review: Kicker iK500 iPod Dock

Do you live above me? If not, go ahead and buy this astonishingly bassy, badass iPod dock. The Kicker iKick (iK500) even looks mean: With a Vaderesque design and scowling speakers, it actually looks like it’s a little pissed. And while it will kick you around a little with its loudness, it can just as easily play nice on the quieter stuff too.

Kicker has made a name in auto subwoofers – chances are last time someone pulled up alongside you with his trunk rattling with ear-bleeding bump, it was a Kicker. But the iK500 is made to shake your wainscots and windows indoors. Its two 5-inch subwoofers and passive radiator on the back pump out the shock waves while the dual tweeters take care of the crispy bits. Whether its thump or twitter, the Kicker sounds equally good, and it can attain its maximum volume without any kind of distortion. It gets so loud that your teeth will throb with delight even if your ears complain.

More than a brutish and simple set of speakers, the Kicker comes with a remote that lets you navigate your iPod menus to select playlists or songs and adjust the volume, not just the shuffle and volume of lesser remotes like the Bose SoundDock’s. But every rose has its thorn: Directional buttons (rather than a wheel) make for slow going when scrolling in menus, especially if you have 80 GB of songs.

Knob revivalists will dig the prominent protuberance on the front of the case, which covers power, volume, bass, treble and aux-in selection. The back of the box offers a 3.5mm line-in port and stereo RCA-out for connecting external speakers, but – and I’m not complaining here – a video-out or mic-in would have been welcome additions.

Eight dock adapters snap onto most iPods for a snug fit on all but the Touch and iPhone. You can still perch an iPhone on there pretty snugly, but don’t be surprised if the bass jiggles it off mid-song. The only problem is that the iPod stands stock-straight, making it hard to read at anything below eye level.

You know something’s good when it can turn an erstwhile drawback into an advantage: Let’s face it, this thing is sort of ugly, but it’ll still look good on a bookcase or desk – badasses aren’t supposed to be cute.

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