Cygnett Unison i-X5
- Great detail, Smooth design, Great remote, Video output
- Bass too strong, Slightly recessed mid-range
The Cygnett Unison i-X5 is a great pair of speakers that will play back audio and video from your iPod. The sound won't suit all kinds of music, but the extremely powerful bass will please a lot of listeners.
Price$ 399.95 (AUD)
Sporting a sleek gloss black facade and offering both audio and video connectivity, Cygnett's new iPod dock speaker system, the Unison i-X5, is a great little system. It can play back your audio on the included dual cone speakers as well as pumping videos from your iPod video straight to your television. While the video quality isn't anything outstanding the audio is quite good, if a little bass-heavy for our tastes and it should prove popular with a wide variety of listeners.
The bass is both the best and worst element of these speakers, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, it is extremely powerful and extends very deeply. Despite having no dedicated subwoofer the vibrations can be felt strongly during particularly bassy sections, and we didn't even have the volume up all that high.
But on the other hand, the bass really is a little too strong. It absolutely dominates the rest of the music, which is great for some styles like dance, but is less impressive for jazz and classical. We found it great during our bass heavy electronic tracks and it was even alright for some heavy metal, but it was too strong during rock and piano based tunes. The individual notes have a tendency to decay very slowly, meaning a lot of the bass meshes together and doesn't sound all that great.
It isn't helped by the fact that the mid range is a little recessed, meaning it takes an even further back seat to the prevalent bass. This really had an impact on guitar based music, which requires a hefty dose of mid-range to sound at its best. Meanwhile the highs were a little rolled off, but this isn't always a bad thing as it adds quite a smooth texture that flows well with the bass-laden sound.
The key area where this system shone was clarity and detail, particularly in the mid range. Despite being slightly recessed the detail of the i-X5s was excellent. We could hear every individual pluck of the guitar strings and the separation between notes was excellent. Vocals are pushed forward slightly, which may or may not be to your tastes, but it certainly gives a lot of emphasis on rock and metal tracks. Overall the sound suit everyone, but it will certainly satisfy a lot of listeners and is great for specific types of music.
Aside from sound quality, the other noticeable feature of this system is the design. The stylish gloss black exterior of the speakers is as smooth as the sound they produce, and will look perfectly at home in a modern home theatre setup.
The back of one of the speakers is peppered with ports, including a jack to connect the second speaker, the power input and an RCA audio connection to plug into the docking station. Meanwhile the dock itself has an S-video port for outputting iPod video files to a television, and even a USB connection to sync your iPod with your PC. All of the connectivity bases are covered here, making for rather complete little system.
As the video is output via a composite connection, it is never going to be exceptional quality, but considering most iPod video files are compressed heavily anyway, it isn't such an issue. During our tests it looked about how we'd expect, which is serviceable but not outstanding. This extra connectivity is good in a pinch for watching the occasional television episode on a bigger screen, but it isn't the primary purpose of this system.
We were a little disappointed to discover that there were no bass and treble controls on the unit. There are two buttons on the docking station which control volume and another volume knob on the back of the control speaker. Aside from these the system is bare.
However this is made up for by the fantastic included remote, which has the ability to completely navigate the iPod menu. You can switch between artists, scroll through tracks and move back and forward through the menu effortlessly, as well as use all the usual play, pause and track skip options. This is a brilliant inclusion, as most iPod speaker systems tend to omit the iPod menu controls, making navigation somewhat frustrating.
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