IK Multimedia iLoud Portable Personal Studio Monitor

IK Multimedia has just released its latest product, aimed at musicians and music lovers alike: the iLoud portable speaker. The company claims it is “studio quality” and equips it with a guitar/microphone input. Hmm, “studio quality”—I’ve heard that one before, but I decided to check it out. Is it actually something I would have used in my own recording studio?

IK Multimedia is known for creating guitar and bass apps for the Apple iOS world and the company has incorporated that know-how into the iLoud. Setting the iLoud apart from most other portable speakers is the aforementioned guitar input, but there’s more to it than just the hardware. It’s part of IK’s iRig system that uses an iOS device running AmpliTube, VocaLive or another processing app that let you mix and record from a guitar, bass or microphone and hear it all on the iLoud output. In addition to connecting to the system via the guitar input or ⅛” TRRS input, the iLoud also has Bluetooth connectivity.

The iLoud (MSRP $299) is a 40-watt RMS portable system using bi-amplification with active crossover and digital time alignment. It will run for up to 10 hours on a single charge of its Li-ion battery.There is an auto shut-off feature that saves power when no audio is detected for a few minutes. Its footprint is about the size of an iPad but it is over 2 inches thick—easily transportable, but not exactly pocket-sized. That is entirely excusable given that the iLoud has an array of four speakers and a bass-reflex port that give it a much fuller sound than most of the portables out there today. Specifically, it uses two 3-inch neodymium woofers and two ¾-inch neodymium tweeters. Unlike many other systems, it uses the same playback characteristics when unplugged as when plugged in. (Some portable systems reduce bass response when playing off battery.)

Pairing to the iLoud is simple enough, and it will pair up to two devices so you don’t have to pair each time you switch devices. I listen to music from my iPod nano and videos on my smartphone, so I really appreciated this feature as I was switching quite regularly.

The iLoud does play incredibly loud. Listening indoors, it plays louder than I usually care to listen to music. Outdoors, it overcomes traffic noise to be a perfect poolside partner. I just hope my neighbors like my playlist.

The iLoud claims to be studio quality. I thought it sounded good, but it certainly doesn’t compare it to real studio monitors. I checked it out with Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” The phased guitar throughout the verse was clean and crisp, and his vocals had a nice clarity.The treble response was rather pleasant at comfortable volumes. Although it plays loud, it gets rather harsh when playing at truly loud levels. What I found most disappointing was the lack of deep, robust bass. There was a good amount of kick and what I would consider mid-bass, but the lower, driving sounds that are typically mixed into today’s music was lacking. This particular song has a massive world-beat bass and percussive mix, and it just didn’t have the impact it should. The bass the iLoud does have has a tight, punchy sound, but there should have been more.

If you’re a musician looking for a portable rig with more than acceptable sound quality, the iLoud is a go-to product. Even without need for the guitar input, I found myself grabbing the iLoud before many of the other speakers I have around when I wanted to listen away from my studio. Studio quality? Well, not really, not in my studio. But a nice little speaker? Definitely.