Review: Macally TunePro Flat Panel Stereo Speaker

Macally TuneProAbove: Not for ugly people… The TunePro’s mirrored panel looks as good as the room you have it in.

Macally’s TunePro sports one of the cooler iPod speaker designs we’ve seen in awhile, and certainly the coolest in the iPod alarm clock category. The entire front of the nearly 14-inch long flat panel speaker is covered with a reflective plastic that doubles as a mirror which “pulses” along with the music. It gives off a kind of “rippling” effect that needs to be seen to truly appreciate. Likewise, the mirror-like quality of the speaker’s front is more impressive than our photos were able to capture.

More than a pretty face

The unique mirror finish actually serves a functional purpose, aside from looking cool. It acts a bit like the 2-way interrogation mirrors of police dramas, allowing the digital display to shine through. The display sports 3 brightness settings, the dimmest of which I found to be perfect for bedside use.

Macally TunePro
The left controls…

The front of the TunePro contains the majority of the most often used controls such as the dual alarm set buttons, sleep, radio (left), Power/Snooze/Mute (center), volume, audio mode, as well as the navigation and input buttons (right). On the back are the lesser used clock set, dimmer, and Treble/Bass/SRS WOW buttons.

Macally TunePro
…and the right.

Navigating the controls takes a little getting used to, and I actually had to look briefly at the manual at first (something as a geek I try to avoid), but once I got the hang of it the controls made sense, and setting any of the TunePro’s features became fairly straightforward. You can set 2 different alarms on the TunePro, and can choose to wake to your iPod, the Radio (AM and FM) or the standard blaring beep. The TunePro sports a gradual volume increase designed to help reduce being startled awake (more on that later).

Sound

The sound of the TunePro is better than I expected, having never heard a flat-panel speaker before. For something so thin, it delivered a respectable amount of bass, and while a little heavy in the midrange, was not overly so, and the majority of music types sounded good. Overall, you will not be throwing out your home stereo system, but the TunePro can fill a bedroom or kitchen with above average sound for the price.

Macally TuneProAbove: The AM antenna is removable, the FM is hard wired into the back of the TunePro. Also, note the line-in jack for hooking up your useless non-iPod MP3 player.

Issues

The TunePro has a lot going for it, but 3 things could have been done to make it even better. First, the SRS WOW technology is not put to its best use here. We’ve reviewed other speakers featuring SRS WOW and noticed it greatly improved the sound of smaller speakers. Here with the TunePro we found this was generally not the case, and for most types of music it actually made songs sound worse. Luckily, theres an easy solution; don’t press the SRS button. Luckily, the TunePro’s audio is good enough that it doesn’t go wanting without the SRS, but it would have been nice to see the SRS give the audio an extra boost.

The second issue I noticed is with the gradual volume increase feature of the alarm. While it’s nice that the volume gradually increases so as to not startle you, there seems to be no way to set the maximum volume the alarm will stop increasing to. It always goes up to a setting of 24, which is actually quite loud. Since different people have different thresholds at which a song’s volume will wake them from a deep sleep, I would have liked to see an option for setting this.

Macally TuneProAbove: All this can be yours. The Tune Pro ship s with an audio cable, as well as multiple dock inserts to fit most iPods.

My final criticism of the TunePro again is aimed at its alarm clock features. For some reason, the TunePro doe not feature a battery backup system. This is more or less a no-brainer/must have for alarm clocks these days, and even $5 alarm clocks sold in drug stores feature this. It would be nice to know if there was ever a power outage, the TunePro would be able to bounce back and retain your settings.

Macally TuneProAbove: A slightly better shot of the clock (reflections are a tricky thing).

Conclusion

The TunePro is thus far the best sounding iPod alarm clock we have tested, and the most stylish as well. Unfortunately a couple small misses keep it from being the perfect alarm clock, but the sound quality and good looks make it a great all around choice for the bedroom or kitchen. Priced at $129.99 ($107.78 Amazon) it’s priced just a tad high, but not overly so. You can find better sounding speakers for the price, but none that offer the alarm, radio, dock and unique looks of the TunePro. All things considered, the TunePro is the reigning champ of the iPod alarm clock category.

Price: $107.78 Amazon

Pros: Cool looks, very good sound given price point and feature set, has built-in alarm clock, AM/FM Radio, iPod charging Dock

Cons: No battery Backup, SRS WOW actually hurts sound quality for most songs

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Comments
8 Responses to “Review: Macally TunePro Flat Panel Stereo Speaker”
  1. Georg says:

    Hey Dr. Macenstein,
    now that I’ve read your article, I have to buy one of these. But before I do, I better ask you some questions about the TunePro first, don’t want to ever buy a “pig in a poke” (sorry, I had to look this one up in the dictionary) again.
    The first question is perhaps the most important one to me: How much pressure is needed to push the buttons? If the TunePro stands on top of a table and I press play, does the force needed push the TunePro away or is it heavy enough?
    Then one about the radio. Is there any display/crosshair to select a radio-station or is there only a “auto-tune”-button?
    And the last one is a pretty general one. Does this thing feel cheap when touching? For e.g. are you scared of breaking it when you hit the snooze-button and does it squeak when touching?
    Do you think this would still look good with a white iPod4G? They don’t sell it in white, do they?
    Would be nice if you could answer these questions. After all, it was you who made me wanting one ;)
    Yay, and before I forget: I like your site!

  2. Cliff says:

    This is so bad ass.

  3. Hey Georg, thanks for reading Macenstein!

    To answer your questions.

    First, I assume you mean pressing play on the (docked) iPod? (There is not a play button on the TunePro, you control the iPod manually). The TunePro is a bit heavier than you might think, given how thin it looks, and it will not slide when pressing any docked iPod buttons or the buttons on the face of the unit. Overall, the construction is quite good, although the mirror panel will move when touched.

    The radio can be navigated precisely using the UP and DOWN buttons. Hold one and it will auto seek, but you can go is small increments by pressing them one click at a time.

    The buttons seems of decent quality, the only one that is slightly louder than the others is the long “snooze” bad in the center by the iPod, which i believe is because the docking cradle is largely hollow, allowing for it to accent the sound. No squeaking though.

    Hope that answers your questions, and thanks again for rreading Macenstein!

    -The Doc

  4. Corry Pynaker says:

    Macally tunepro flat panel……I want one……..How can I get in Australia within paying an abolute fortune for shipping.

    Please help

  5. Karl Lee says:

    How do I stop the volume on the alarm from getting so loud that it gives you a freakin’ heart attack? thanks.

  6. CompuDude says:

    I’d get one in a heartbeat if it (a) had a battery backup (smallish issue I could fix with a UPS), (b) auto-set via Atomic clock or internet (small issue I can live without), and (c) if it didn’t force the iPhone into airplane mode (critical deal-breaker). I want to stick my phone on there at the end of the day to charge, be woken up by music, and grab it and go (with fully charged phone) in the morning. What I can’t accept, though, is turning off my phone overnight. When I’m on call, I need my phone to be able to ring 24/7.

    Sad, because it’s literally EVERYTHING I’ve been looking for except for those three things… and two of the three I could live with. All they had to do was add some shielding and leave airport mode alone…

  7. u tilly says:

    hi. I own this product and don’t have any problems with connecting my iPhone. You get the usual popup “this product isn’t made for iPhone, do you want to use airplain mode or not” choose no and you are good to go.

    Kind regards,
    Ulf Tilly

  8. Dor says:

    Hi Doc
    I believe you can use a remote for the iPod/iPhone, which might solve Georg question. Then he won’t have to worry about pressing too hard on the buttons of the devise itself.
    This remote is the Macalley IP-A803.

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