SpeakerCraft MODE Multiroom Audio System Page 4

SpeakerCraft MODE Multiroom Audio System Keypad

Browsing a Pod via MODE is nearly identical to having it in your hand, with tunes neatly sorted by Playlist, Artist, Album, Genre, and so on. The only option unavailable was "Podcasts," and SpeakerCraft says this will likely be included by the time you read this. Also, MODE extracts only your Pod's music, so don't get any crazy ideas about watching videos or photos stored on it. Overall, MODE was very easy to use - certainly easy enough for the whole family - and worked flawlessly.

At the speaker end, the system blasted out the tunes, playing notably loud and clear - a big surprise given the modest specifications and heft of the MZC's amplifier. Only at very extreme volumes did the audio start to sound strained, though, even out by my swimming pool, I never had to run the system wide open. And each zone had independent bass and treble adjustments, which really help fine-tune the sound of in-wall/ceiling speakers.

Excellent performance aside, I should note for the record that I detected a slight buzz (similar to ground-loop noise) while listening via the Base, through both the iPod and an XM satellite tuner connected to the minijack input. Speakercraft helped trace the problem to our receiving an early sample of the MODE adapter, which was reengineered before production to eliminate a line-noise problem. Although our deadline prevented us from testing a second sample in time for print, we're told this isn't an issue for units in the field.

BOTTOM LINE SpeakerCraft has done what many manufacturers won't: It's added a host of killer new features to an existing system. And the company did it without any performance compromises. The MZC-66 starts out as the capable backbone of a fully distributed audio/video system. Modernized with the affordable new MODE 3.1 controllers and iPod components, it puts full control over thousands of tunes at your fingertips, and successfully catapults SpeakerCraft's multiroom offerings to the next level.

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