Portable Audio

mStation 2.1 iPod Dock Amplified Tower Speaker System

mstation-2.1-ipod-dock-front-main.jpgIntroduction

Well, what is it?

The mStation tower is an all in one solution for taking your iPod music out of your ears and into your room. The tower consists of one down firing 5.25" woofer, and two speaker modules with two 2" midrange and one 1" tweeter per speaker. There is a docking station a USB port and a 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo mini-plug jack. All in a four foot tall, 14" wide aluminum tower.

Specifications

  • Design: Stereo Speakers with Amplifier, Made for iPod
  • Speakers: Two 1" Dome Tweeters, Four 2" Midrange, One 5" Woofer
  • Power: 100 Watts Peak
  • Remote Control Included
  • Dimensions: 43" H x 14" W x 8" D
  • Weight: 21 Pounds
  • MSRP: $299 USA

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Setup

The unit comes separated, and you must connect the cylinder shaped speakers to the base before you can hear music. Then you can connect the power cord to the unit and turn on the rear mounted switch. Plug your iPod into the dock, or use the 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo mini-plug jack to connect any device that has an audio output (CD player, portable music player, etc.). If you want to get real fancy you can also plug the unit into your computer and sync your iTunes with your Ipod.

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The speaker units can be turned 45 degrees from center which allows for some soundstage widening, although at the loss of center image. The tower's remote control turns the unit on and allows for adjusting the volume, bass, and the treble, as well as some basic iPod functions.


Listening Impressions

Here is where things get difficult. If you want detailed treble, deep articulate bass and realistic imaging, you will not find that with this device. For starters, you have two 2" midrange drivers playing down to 200 Hz, crossed over to a 5" woofer that tries to play 50-200 Hz while firing towards the ground. The shear height of the woofer from the floor negates any real boundary loading which would be the only benefit to mounting the driver this way.

Quite honestly, I found the sound to be much too boomy and much too harsh. I attempted to do some critical listening with this unit, using lossless encoded music, and everything came out sounding lifeless and unemotional. Regular MP3 files sounded no worse than their lossless copies. Nor did they sound any better.

Where this product actually sounded good was in my (eternally) unfinished basement pushed into a corner, with the speakers angled about 20 degrees outward. This provided room filling sound while I sanded, mudded, and re-sanded my newly dry-walled basement. The unit was able to provide a welcome escape from the dust and procrastination that is my basement. And for that it was appreciated.

Conclusions

The size and weight of the unit prevent it from being a portable solution which could have made up for the audio shortcomings. The 1/8" mini plug and USB connector are nice, and the remote does add a greater level of functionality.

Frankly, this is not a system designed for the serious music listener. The fact that it is marketed towards the MP3 crowd will already rule out a good portion of those users. There is now a great deal of these types of devices available, and one must find a balance between cost and sound. Even at $299, there are better sounding units that provide the same, if not better, level of functionality.