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Macally TUNEPRO Flat Panel iPod Speaker - . . . or How to out-Bose, Bose.
September 4, 2007, by Keith Benicek – Audio fanatic

On the backside base are three buttons for “Clock Set”, “WOW, Tre, Bas” for selecting SRS WOW stereo surround sound enhancement on or off, Treble and Bass attenuation (-3 to +3 steps) and “Dimmer” control the 3 step dimming of the front LED display. Also on the back panel are the AC power jack, a jack for the supplied loop AM antenna, an Auxiliary 1/8-inch stereo input and the attached dipole FM antenna. That’s it, as simple as it needs to be.

The LED Clock and menu display is behind the mirrored translucent speaker panel at the top right side. Bright enough for broad daylight or dimmed enough for a darkened bedroom.

There is no remote control to operate the TUNEPRO or the iPod. There is also no internal battery to keep the clocks time if your lose power or unplug it. It does store for an undetermined period of time, the AM and FM station presets you configured.

Listening is believing –
Looks aren’t everything, time to test its acoustic capabilities for our group in the review panel with some sonically taxing tunes. Each our review panel submitted two favorite songs that they feel are either difficult for speakers sonically to produce accurate sound, or ones that were recorded so well with rich full range of tones that playing makes or breaks speakers.

We found in our testing that sometimes the SRS™ WOW™ enhancement isn’t needed for exceptional listening. If the recording is especially good, I mean the original production of the song, then WOW doesn’t add anything, in fact it may make the song a little exaggerated, over produced.

Don't get me wrong, the SRS WOW enhancement is an astounding technology, adding a 3D feeling to music that normally might sound flat.

Hardware for the test – a 5th generation Video iPod, all songs ripped in AAC lossless format.

Here’s our list and listening test results –

- Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train: The hard driving bass is tough, some slight distortion near max volume 27 of 30.
- Jeff Beck Group – Going Down: Incredible range especially in the mids and highs, the TUNEPRO sounded great.
- AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip: Mega crunch rock and the TUNEPRO held in very well, some bass distortion at volume 28 of 30
- Judas Priest – You’ve Got Another Thing coming: Metal anthem with a hard charging middle frequencies, which were very good on the TUNEPRO.
- AC/DC – It’s a long way to the top: Raspy Bon Scott vocal is tough and it sounded pretty good on the TUNEPRO, 9 of 10.




.- Acoustic Alchemy – The Crossing: Sonically thrilling, a real test and it nearly sounded studio fresh through the TUNEPRO. 9.5 of 10
- Al Jarreau – Cold Duck: Both the vocal and instrument have lots of body, with the SRS WOW on, it sounded 9.5 on a scale of 10

Last test and my favorite
- Al Green / BB King – Take Me To the River live: Great live recordings are tough to sound good and the TUNEPRO did very well, 9 on a scale of 10

Over-all score on the sound tests, 9.5 of 10

FM station reception with the dipole antenna fully stretched out vertically and in an area with good strong stations is quite good. Fidelity depends on signal strength from the station tough. AM is reception is not so hot, at least in our area because all the stations are in LA or San Diego, 100 miles in either direction.

Because both sides of the Flat Panel produce the sound, the TUNEPRO has sound holes on the backside of the panel. We found that the TUNEPRO sound much better if there is no wall or solid object close to the back of the unit. On an open desk, the TUNEPRO produces rich full and sharp tones from the music played. With a wall within 9 to 12 inches of the back, the sound is noticeably muted and dull. I believe it is the result of “wave nullification”, same result as stereo speakers being hooked up out of phase.

By the way, for size challenged speakers with limited width, the TUNEPRO does stereo effect exceptionally well if you’re near the system; say within 6 to 8 feet. And, it’s fun watching the Flat Panel ripple to the sound frequencies, interesting because you actually see the stereo effect from a single panel of material. This NXT speaker technology is just too cool.

We do have two criticisms – as we mentioned the TUNEPRO needs a battery backup for clock and alarm settings when power is removed or lost and an IR remote control would be real nice.

- The latest NXT flat panel loudspeaker technology coupled with SRS WOW technology for superior audio enhancement
- Award winning industrial design with attractive front mirror screen and a Clock display behind
- Designed for all Apple iPod devices with 30-pin dock connector, including 1st and 2nd generation iPod nano, 4th and 5th generation iPod, iPod Photo, and iPod Mini
- Dock, listen to and charge iPod simultaneously
- Dual independent Alarm settings with Snooze
- Wake to your favorite tune in iPod, Radio or Buzzer
- Gradual volume increase to Alarm
- Sleep timer function
- Easy to set up and use
- Supports 12/24 Hour time format
- Five AM and five FM Radio memory channels
- Additional Line-in jack for other portable audio devices
- Three display dimmer levels
- Slim profile and small footprint design
- Universal well dock, three iPod inserts included

Part Number: TUNEPRO
MSRP: US $ 129.99   (Lowest Street price $99.95)

The Bottom Line
We were all very impressed with the sound capabilities of the TUNEPRO, it’s one of the top 3 we’ve tested in the sub $200 category. Manufacturing quality is also exceptional good for the price (MSRP - $129.99). The TUNEPRO will look great on your desk, on a table in your family room or on your bedside nightstand. This is an outright bargain for iPod speaker systems. Tech Edge E-zine awards Macally an Editors’ Choice for 2007 and 4.5 stars out of 5 from our Tech Lab reviewers.


© 2007 Tech Edge E-zine

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