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We’ve always admired music aficionados with such finely tuned hearing that they could effortlessly detect the sonic differences between digital music and music recorded on vinyl, tape, and other “old” media. There must be a number of these types at SRS Labs, because the iWow Adaptor for iPod, a small, lightweight hardware add-on that plugs in via your iPod’s 30-pin dock connector and filters the audio output to attached headphones, has a remarkable effect on the clarity of music played on iPod, effectively separating the various layers of audio in a given recording, and bringing out depth that can often get lost in digital recordings.
While the iWow Adaptor isn’t suited for every song or musical genre--in our tests it tended to muddy up heavy bass lines by allowing too much of the bass buzz to come through when we would have gladly let it hide--the device does wonders for acoustic and classical tracks. We happily lost ourselves in a variety of acoustic recordings by Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, and even Dynamite Hack (ever heard their cover of Boyz-n-the-Hood? Genius.) And we didn’t even feel guilty locking ourselves in our bedroom to enjoy Bach’s cello suites performed by Yo-Yo Ma, or violin concertos played by Julia Fischer, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields doing Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. The iWow Adaptor enhanced the pants off all of these recordings--multiplying our enjoyment of the music, making it sound fuller, richer, and much more nuanced. In short, the iWow Adaptor and a good pair of headphones made us feel like the performers were right there in the room.
The trade-off to this you-gotta-hear-it-to-believe-it sound enhancement is a dramatic blow to your iPod’s battery life. We found that our iPod classic’s battery ran down about 30 percent faster with the iWow Adaptor plugged in than without it. And occasionally, when we first attached the device and then plugged our headphones into the 1/8-inch jack on the bottom left, we’d hear a sound like an airplane taking off before the music started playing, as if the device had to warm up or something.
For acoustic and classical music lovers, the iWow Adaptor is a must-have add-on for enhancing your listening pleasure. Hard rock and hip-hop fans should put their 100 bones toward a high-end speaker dock or headphones.