The iKick iK500 is exactly what we want an iPod speaker system to be: a simple, straightforward device that provides clear, precise sound at near-earthquake-inducing levels.
The company claims that the iKick iK500 is louder than other iPod speaker systems that are available, and - unless our ears deceive me - it may be right.
The iK500's black, slightly boxy design features a recessed iPod dock between two speakers. It comes with eight adaptors for connecting most iPod models; you can connect MP3 players or CD player via the auxiliary and stereo RCA inputs on the back of the device, too.
Squarely in the middle of the back of the system is a 6in subwoofer that complements the system's 40-watt stereo amps nicely. The company also offers a separate version of the speaker system, dubbed the iKick ZK500, that is compatible with the Microsoft Zune.
A single knob on the front of the unit lets you adjust the volume, bass, and treble. The design is attractive, but accessing your iPod's controls while it's docked can be a slightly awkward undertaking. You can rely on the included remote for most of your navigation needs, but you'll need to be able to see your iPod's screen, as the remote lacks a display of its own.
The iK500 is loud. And we mean LOUD. At its top volume level of 40, the iK500 succeeded in drowning out drum-playing and vibrating the floorboards. Even at a sub-Spinal Tap volume level of 8, we could still hear the lyrics to music down the hall, some 14ft away. And the quality of the sound (and of the bass) was excellent all the way to the end of the dial, with no warbling, fuzzing, or muddying of the sound quality at any point.
Weighing 4.2kg, the iK500 is a bit too heavy to be classified as portable, which is just as well because it doesn't run on batteries, either. Of course, you probably won't need to move your iK500 anywhere, anyway: just turn the volume up a few notches, and the music will follow you
At £179, it costs more than we would want to spend on a speaker system (especially since it doesn't have a wide range of features), but the iK500 would be perfect for garden parties, barbecues, and house parties - provided that the local authority are not too stringent on noise complaints.