Review: Macally TunePro Flat Panel Stereo Speaker
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.
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.
…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).
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.
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.
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.
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