As of early 2008, Klipsch offers two single-chassis iPod speaker systems: the RoomGroove, which offers compatibility with the company's wireless "KlipschCast" feature, and the iGroove SXT, its no-frills entry-level model. That said, the relatively affordable iGroove SXT doesn't look or feel cut-rate. As soon as we put our iPod into the dock and the music started playing, we appreciated the little system's relatively full sound and keep-it-simple approach.
The top edge of the front panel has just three buttons: volume up, volume down, and power. The rest of the front is covered with a nonremovable black cloth grille, and the iPod dock is centered on the lower edge. It's a rather handsome design. The iGroove SXT measures a compact 4.75 inches tall by 12 inches wide by 4.6 inches deep and weighs a mere 4 pounds, but the plastic cabinet feels sturdy and solid. Like virtually all iPod speakers, the iGroove SXT recharges nearly any iPod with the standard 30-pin connection when the player is docked, and it comes with a set of tray adapters so players of varying sizes will fit snugly. The iGroove SXT requires AC power, so it's not truly portable, but it's small enough to be moved easily from room to room.
Klipsch is known for its "horn" loaded stereo and home theater speakers, and it's applied that technology to the iGroove SXT's 0.75-inch tweeter to increase its efficiency, dynamic range, and minimize floor and tabletop reflections that would adversely affect its sound. Klipsch is the only iPod speaker manufacturer we know of to incorporate horn tweeters. The iGroove SXT also has a pair of 2.5-inch woofers (the sides of the cabinet have slotted ports to enhance bass response). As for the stereo system's power rating, it isn't specified, other than to say it's a Class D (digital) amplifier.
Around the back of the unit you'll find an S-Video output for displaying your iPod videos on a TV and an auxiliary (line-in) input to hook up other audio devices--anything with a headphone or line-out jack will work. However, we should point out that the video output is only compatible with the earlier generation of video iPods--not the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPod Classic, or video-enabled Nanos.
The iGroove SXT comes with a credit-card-style remote that controls just volume, play/pause, and track skip forward/back. Accessing menu functions is a hands-on iPod operation, so don't expect to navigate the player's menu system from your easy chair.
Considering its small size, we didn't expect the iGroove SXT to rock our world, but the R.E.M. Live CD put out so much bass we could feel it vibrating the table in our listening room. Michael Stipe's vocals were clear, and the drums sounded powerful. The iGroove SXT sounded best when we sat 2 to 4 feet away; as we moved farther away, the sound was less impressive. Stereo separation is barely noticeable at any distance, but that's true of most iPod speakers. The iGroove SXT can play fairly loud without obvious distress.
To finish up our testing, we compared the iGroove SXT with the Logitech Pure-Fi Elite. The Logitech is larger, with larger woofers and tweeters, and has a built-in AM/FM tuner and digital clock. No surprise: The Logitech sounded bigger, with deeper, tighter bass and superior treble detail. Even so, we appreciated the iGroove SXT's richer/warmer tonal balance, and for some buyers the Klipsch's more compact size will be an asset. Street prices are about the same for both iPod speakers.