SRS has released an attachment for Apple’s iPod, iPad, and iPhone devices. As a musician, I really have a deep understanding of how tonal range works on audio devices. I was very pleased to hear that I would get to do a review of this, although I have to admit I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to audio attachments that claim to improve sound quality. I’ll get into detail about my experiences shortly, but first let’s look at exactly what the SRS iWow 3D actually is.
What the iWow 3D is, is an audio enhancement device that connects through the 30-pin Apple connection. The other end of the device connects to a female port which allows stereo cables to be plugged into. You can purchase it in three different packages: iWOW-3DHF (iWow 3D, faceplates, in-ear ear buds), iWOW-3DF (iWow 3D & faceplates), or just the iWOW-3D. This device utilizes patented technology which enables the user to create a more amplified, clearer sound to the audio peripheral used. SRS claims that there’s a widening of the sound, which seemed vague to me at first, but after using it, I understood that it wasn’t a surround feature, but a tonal feature.
In my experience with using this device to connect to speakers, I found that although the bass was deeper and the treble was clearer, the overall sound quality is almost entirely dependent on the quality of speakers you have. The frequency range of your audio device will determine how much you will get out of this product. If you’re using high quality speakers or headphones with above average frequency/tonal range then you will find you will get more out of your sound. I evaluated this product with high quality speakers, as well as low quality and mid-range speakers. I noticed that through high quality speakers, it didn’t matter if you had this device or not. With the mid-range speakers, I found that the sound was in fact enhanced and made the speakers seemingly enhanced themselves. With the low-range, I found this device to be beneficial as well, offering a more enhanced sound.
What do I mean by enhanced sound? I could say that certain frequencies are enhanced to bring about a clearer sound, but that might not be enough. Essentially, certain instruments, vocals, or sound effects are being amplified. You get more bump in your bass. You get more twang to that guitar. You can distinguish the vocalist’s pitch better. It resembles more of a live performance than Apple’s current hardware emulation can handle.
In regards to headphones usage, which I assume is going to be the most widely used choice for consumers, I found that this device will give any set of headphones you have that extra power. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re in a loud, public location and all you really want to do is listen to your music. You have the volume maxed out and it’s still not enough. This device will give you that extra volume and sound you’re yearning for. However, with the headphones, this device becomes taxing on the battery. I found that with all the settings on to enhance the phone, I found the drain on my battery to be taxing; to say the least. I would assume this would be the case when you’re adding any extra hardware peripheral to your device. The product installs easily on Apple products. Assuming you’re connected to the internet, you just plug in the device and then a prompt to install the app appears. Just install the app and you’re ready to go. The app is really easy to use. There are no complicated menus or any configurations you need to handle. You simply just select which sound(s) you wish to enhance and in real-time it adjusts the sound accordingly.
The final note I’d like to make about this product is the price. Yes, this device is very worthwhile if you don’t have the greatest headphones or stereo system hooked up. However, the price is far too steep for what it does. Starting at $59.99, all you get is the adapter. You can spend another $10 in the combo package for the faceplates. On top of that, you can buy the $79.99 deluxe package and get ear bud headphones. I think it’s just far too expensive for what it does. I’d rather make the $60 investment in a set of high quality headphones, than pay to have my ‘decent’ ones be boosted. The boost just isn’t that significant to make me want to spend $60. I would suffice to say that this product to me is worth $25.