Product Type: Alba speakers
Newest Review: ... purpose they are brilliant. They fold and so are easy to store and pack up. They are quite stylish in white. They feature a nice little st... more
Where do you find a plug on a beach?
Member Name: Randal
Date: 29/12/11, updated on 29/12/11 (67 review reads)
Advantages: Compact, well designed and adequate.
Disadvantages: Sound quality may not be to everyone's tastes.
But let's firstly start by looking at what these Alba IM8's are. If you intending to play music in a hotel room, or on a beach etc from your mobile phone or mp3 player, without the need for headphones, you'll need some form of speaker or speakers, and if you are travelling around, you don't really want to be carrying a large heavy set of speakers. Ideally you would want a smaller more portable set, and this is where these Alba IM8s come in. The speakers fold up into a sort of little white plastic elongated cube which will fit into the palm of your hand, where the speaker cones are all protected when folded to save them getting damaged, meaning that the overall assembly can take some knocks in your baggage without too many worries. Folding the speakers out, you have a central stand for your phone/mp3 player with a hinged speaker either side. The overall dimensions folded out are 190mm wide by 67mm high by 62mm deep. So a very tidy, not too obtrusive size.
The speakers are powered by 4 AAA batteries (not supplied) which fit into the battery compartment at the back of the central stand to give a sound power amplification of 2 x 1.00W. There is also an option to have a mains supply to power them (charger not supplied), but I've yet to find a suitable plugging in point on a beach.
At the front of the central stand bit there is a small pull out tray on which you can stand your phone/mp3 player in between the 2 speakers. The tray is 62mm wide and can come out as far as 25mm, so should be more than enough to accommodate most phones, Ipods or mp3 players. Of note, the tray is totally removable, and has to be when you close the speakers up. But you can then slot the tray in from the back of the device and close it up against the battery compartment. This then ensures that everything is kept together when you store the speakers away.
Connection to your player is achieved via a short 18.5cm lead that has a 3.5mm plug on one end which can then be plugged into the headphone socket of your musical device. The 3.5mm plug is a standard connection for many phones, Ipods and mp3 players, but is also equally applicable to laptops, CD players and portable games systems. So these speakers can be used with quite a range of devices. Of note, some thought has been put into how the lead is stored on the speakers because a nice little groove has been created around the outside of the battery compartment at the back of the device. So when not in use, the lead can be safely tucked away in the groove without fear of it snagging on something.
Across the top of the device you have a simple sliding on/off switch, next to which is a small green LED to indicate when the power is on, and to complete the 'tour' of the top, you finally have the plug-in point for the external power supply. So everything is very compact and easily accessible. There is no specific volume control on these speakers because everything will be controlled from your musical device. So these speakers are very easy to operate - plug-in and switch on.
Now let's look at (hear?) the sound quality. For the price, I wasn't really expecting much more than a tinny tone with the odd base sound thrown in, and to be honest, with only 1.00W of speaker power, that was pretty much what I got. But to be fair, I wasn't intending to hold our own personal disco in the middle of the day on the beach, and hence, for what these speakers output in terms of musical quality, they are perfectly adequate for our needs to have something quietly playing in the background on the beach or in the hotel room. You can still distinguish the notes and hear everything clearly, and they are ideal to play in a kitchen or even a child's bedroom. They are much better that a simple mobile phone speaker, but not quite up to your Wharfdale disco speaker standards. They can play at a fairly loud level, enough to be easily heard across the room, but if you try and crank them right up with your device, the sound does start to distort.
In summary, I had initial concerns over the durability of these speakers, and yet, over a year later, my kids still use them in the garden and they still look like new (apart from a few minor scratches on the case). So they are well built and designed to last, which was much more than I was expecting for the price. The sound quality, whilst not 'thumping', is adequate for purpose and should satisfy the majority of people's musical needs. So balancing everything up of price against quality and against sound, I would give these a 4 star recommendation.
Review also on Ciao under Randal1.
Summary: A compact, foldable, portable speaker system for your phone/mp3 player.
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