In our final match of round 2 in our iPod Bracket Battle, we have the three most expensive systems left. The Altec Lansing "boombox" IM7 faces off against the Bose Sound Dock...while battling the hi-fi slayer, the Altec Lansing IMV712. The winner of this match very well could be the winner of the entire competition. So who will win?
Today is a sound match only, as we listen to Sufijan Stevens' Decatur, and I realize that, yes, I need to put more songs on the iPod for the finals.
Bose Sound Dock
The Bose didn't fail to surprise me with the size of its sound. It's a master of midrange, with excellent clarity. It's incredibly easy to distinguish the Stevens' two separate vocal tracks, layered for harmony. Many speaker systems nearly lose this subtlety, and its presence adds a dimension to the sound otherwise not appreciated.
Altec Lansing IM7
The IM7's range is pretty decent, with a strong mid to lower midrange. But everything is metallic. As if ever tone is finished in brass, frequency response loses out to a general harshness. It's easily in third place of the three docks.
Altec Lansing IMV712
I guess the two extra numbers and one extra number in "IMV712" count for something, because the IMV712 sounds way beyond its IM7 sibling. And if the big brother shows anything, it's that while Bose makes a great product, the product is not an infallible provider of "perfect sound"— $100 extra bucks can be a lot in audio.
The IMV712 just has...bigger balls. It's like when you've been eating low-fat sour cream for a long time. It tastes pretty good, and you think, not much missing here. Why would I ever eat the real thing? And then you do, appreciating the more opulent texture and more richer flavor.
The IMV712 has a richer sound beyond its ability to limbo down to lower frequencies than the Sound Dock. It's present and filling, from the plucking banjos to the soft hint of breath at the end of vocal phrases.
On sound alone, the IMV712 takes this round of face-offs. Its closest competition, the Bose Sound Dock, is admittedly cheaper than the IMV712. But since we can easily hear the difference and the Sound Dock is lacking any practical extras, we're going with the IMV712. This result brings a close to the second round of competition. Only three matches are left from here to decide a winner.