Danls92 Reviews: SRS iWOW Adaptor Please Register or Log in to view images Introduction: What I'm going to be reviewing is the SRS iWOW adapter. It is small device that plugs into the dock connector of your iPod and claims to boost the sound quality and soundstage. How I Review: This review is broken up into 3 major categories (Design Overview, Sound, and Misc. Comments) with a final wrap-up at the end. I have never liked the method of reviewing involved the arbitrary assigning of numbers to quantitatively express a feeling because it is so subjective. Due to this, I will not be giving my opinions a numerical value, instead I will be using the words excellent, good, neutral, bad, and horrible. For a brief description of what each means: Excellent- Either perfect or just barely missing it. Something will receive an excellent rating if it is the best it could possibly be. Good- Possible to improve, but by no means bad. This is the verdict I would give something that is good for what it is, but has several things holding it back. Neutral- Neither good nor bad, I don't have any strong feelings. If I feel ambiguous about something it would receive this rating. Bad- The unfavorable outweighs the favorable aspects. If something is not well designed, or poorly implemented this is what I would rate it. Horrible- Unacceptably poor. If something impedes the thing it is meant to assist, or is completely useless I would say this about it. With that being said, let's start the review. 1) Design Overview As popular as iPods are, they did not get there by having phenomenal sound quality. While they are perfectly adequate for general use and leisure listening, the iPods’ sound quality leaves something to be desired. There are several ways to overcome this, with headphones or a headphone amp, and though they have a definite impact, eventually you get to a point where the sound just won’t get any better. Enter the SRS iWOW. This little adapter attempts to face the problem head on by improving the audio itself rather then the way it is outputted. In order to be as unobtrusive as possible, it is shaped to fit with as little a seam as possible to the bottom of the iPod. It was clearly designed in accordance with the dimensions and style of the iPod Classic leading it to be several millimeters thicker than the iPod Touch. It also matches the matte black finish on the front and famously fingerprint conducive metallic back. It adds about a centimeter to the end of the iPod, but it doesn’t make as much as distance as you would think (certainly not as much as the RichardSolo1800 I reviewed previously). On the button side, it has 3 tactile buttons. A power switch located dead-center on the adapter allows you to turn the device on/off, and it glows which is a nice touch and isn’t bright enough to be distracting. It also has two power buttons which work beautifully with the iPod Touch. The headphone jack is relocated to the bottom left of the device. Overall, there’s really nothing to complain about. The device doesn’t quite feel as solid as I would like, but given that it is made for a device that uses its lightness as a major selling point I can’t really consider it a downside. As it has no internal battery, it draws power from the iPod but I couldn’t really distinguish any major impact. The one small flaw I found was that given its design to stay flush with the bottom of the iPod some cases don’t allow it to connect (such as the Switcheasy Capsule Touch). Rating: Excellent Even though this device was made for an entirely different model of iPod, there is really nothing to complain about. It would be nice if the dock connector was a bit longer, but at the same time it would mean that when connected to the iPod sans-case there would be a gap between the iPod and it. It is sleek and functional, with the design leaving nothing to be desired. 2) Sound Quality The first thing you notice when you turn it on is that it really does a lot to boost the bass. While for the bass-heads out there, it will be a godsend but personally I found it a bit overbearing. When I switched to a better pair of headphones it was noticeably better, but with stock iPod headphones or any cheaper models I found that the bass got a bit buzzy and overwhelmed the rest of the spectrum (granted, if you buy this thing you probably already have a decent pair of headphones lined up). In terms of widening the soundstage, I didn’t realize how big an impact it had until I turned it off. Instantly, my music sounded more confined and claustrophobic. It isn’t just in music either, I watched Guy Ritchie’s fantastic movie “Snatch” and it was definitely more immersive than just straight headphones. While I expressed a bit of grief about the bass earlier, this device is no slouch when it comes to the midranges and highs. There was a noticeable increase in the clarity in all parts of the spectrum, which was definitely magnified when listening to music encoded at higher bitrates. I listened to some music encoded with ALAC, and the device did a phenomenal job of bringing out the nuisances in the music. It surprised me just how much I missed the device when I attempted to listen to music without it. You get used to the more spacious sound it produces and it feels exceeding strange to have music seemingly pumped directly into your ears rather than “surrounding” you. Rating: Good I was on the fence with this one, but given the bass issues I described above I couldn’t really give this an excellent. It has a definite impact on the quality of the music and the soundstage really benefits. I can confidently say that anybody that has a desire to listen to better quality music and improve the soundstage (for anybody who is confused to as what this term means, it is the virtual stage from which the music is directed towards you… actually rather self-explanatory). 3) Misc. Comments I don’t really have much to add here except that if how they treated me was anything like how they treat the average customer (and I have complete confidence that it is), anybody buying one of these adaptors is in good hands. The customer service was extraordinarily helpful and kind and I would just like to thank Mr. Michael Bingham and his company for making this review possible. Rating: N/A 4) Overall Rating Rating: Excellent I have reviewed several pairs of headphones, and have a few headphone amp reviews on the way, and I can honestly say that none of them have done half what this little adapter did to improve the quality of my music. Not to sound clichéd, but it is really a day and night difference between straight audio and the stuff this device pumps out. It is by no means perfect, the bass is a bit much for some less expensive headphones along with some less bass-happy listeners, but by and large it is a musical experience worth the money.