iN Studio 5.0

Susie Ochs's picture

iN Studio 5.0

The speaker on the right in this photo - the one with the iPod nano - is really the left speaker. We're just backwards like that.


Sierra Sound named its iN Studio 5.0 speakers for their 5-inch woofers, but they also have a built-in 50-watt dynamic amp, making them more than just iPod speakers - they’re a compact, room-shaking stereo stand-in. Measuring 7.3 by 8 by 10.8 inches each, and weighing 23.3 pounds together, this is one hefty set - but so is the high-end sound it puts out.


With all the inputs available on the left speaker, the iN Studio 5.0 could replace a traditional stereo, especially when a component system or a dedicated subwoofer might hog too much space, or when you’ve got a large music collection on your Mac. The first input is the iPod dock, which also has a USB port for syncing with a computer. (Bonus: Cables for all functions are included.) The iN Studios charge the ’Pod whenever they’re powered on, whether USB is connected or not. Auxiliary input 1 is a set of RCA jacks, and auxiliary input 2 is a 1/8-inch minijack. Between these two options and Sierra’s included cables, you can connect any audio source with an RCA or 1/8-inch audio-out jack. A 104-inch cable connects the left and right speakers. Outputs include a headphone jack and an S-Video port for watching iPod videos on a TV. Another bonus: The speakers also look good, in shiny black, red, or white.


The power supply is built in, and there’s an extra power socket on the left speaker at the perfect height for plugging in an AirPort Express Base Station with AirTunes ($99, If you then connect that to the Aux 1 or Aux 2 input on the speaker and run the AirPort Setup Assistant (/Applications/Utilities), you can stream your iTunes music from an AirPort-equipped Mac - even using the Front Row interface.


The small infrared remote control switches between the iPod, Aux 1, and Aux 2 mode, lets you navigate the docked iPod’s menus, includes all the standard controls plus Repeat, Shuffle, and Mute, and even has a button to turn on the iPod’s backlight. It worked well within about 10 feet, but we had to keep a line of sight to the front of the left speaker.


We can’t say enough about how great these speakers sound. Highs were crisp and clear, and the bass was powerful and full without ever distorting or overshadowing the rest of the sound. Everything we played on it sounded great, from reggae to hip-hop to bluegrass to Beethoven to the Beatles, and even a little opera (the perks of having one’s whole iTunes collection accessible via AirTunes). You can’t adjust the bass and treble, but the sound was always highly accurate to the original source, so that’s a tiny nitpick. The volume was very pleasing - these puppies can go up to 11, but they still sound excellent when you have ’em on 2.


The bottom line. At $399, these aren’t cheap speakers. But they can be the center of your musical world, and they’re high enough quality to keep audio snobs happy for a long time.


COMPANY: Sierra Sound

PRICE: $399

REQUIREMENTS: Dockable iPod or other audio source with headphone jack or audio-out

Versatile inputs. Works great with AirPort Express. Includes remote and all cables. Quality build, great sound.

IR remote requires a line of sight.





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