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Music is in the mind of the beholder – literally when you go out with an iPod. But when you’re home or at work, there are better ways to enjoy the beat. The iDS3 plus from Boston Acoustics might be the mother of all docks. The system combines stereo speakers in a striking contoured bar meant for tabletop placement and a powered subwoofer to which it’s wirelessly linked. The duo lets you sit back with a pint-size remote (left).
The down-firing 6-inch sub occupies a cabinet that's nearly a cubic-foot in size. It's a squat but shiny presence that exudes strength even before you turn it on. Between the 9-pound bar and 11-lb sub, either partner could crush your iPod in a heartbeat. Better you should attach the little guy (an iPhone is compatible, too) to the dock connector atop the bar. Then, you use the controls above the grille or on the remote and stand back. The system is primed to put out 100-watts of ground-shaking power.
The back of the sub contains a power switch and volume dial, either of which could prove useful if there’s a baby sleeping downstairs. There’s no physical connection to the main unit, so in case of interference you can adjust a dip switch on the main unit to one of four “wireless ID” channels. Also on the back of the bar are a set of stereo line inputs for non-dockable sources and S-Video and composite video outputs to pass along video from an iPod or iPhone to a TV. The main unit features dual high-frequency tweeters and dual high performance 3 ½ inch woofers. While an AC cord plugs directly into the sub, you must use an external power brick with the main unit.
Though thei-DS3 Plus iPod Speaker System is available in gloss black or gloss white (with matching color for the remote), you can customize the grille on the main unit using one of nine colors available from Boston Acoustics. The company encloses a "Play in Color" paint-chip chart in the box. I wasn't enamored with eight of the nine. I found Caramel too syrupy; Chocolat, too much like black; Glacier, too powdery blue; olive, too drab; Onyx, too much like Chocolat; pearl gray, too gray; rose bud, too reminiscent of Citizen Kane; and Spanish Moss, too clingy. My choice of grille? For me it was a no-brainer. Chili Pepper, please. It reminds me of my first car, a maroon Mustang hard-top classic.
By the way, the manual is 44 pages only eight of which are in English. And while the glossy black finish is attractive, it tends to show fingerprints a bit too well. It’s a good idea to keep a cleaning cloth nearby . Better yet, listen, but don’t touch. There's a reason the system comes with a remote.