I.US may not have the speaker heritage of some of its rivals – the i7 range is the first from a company more readily associated with lovely, expensive media servers – but when we tested the bigger i700s their ‘big, beefy' sound met with approval in these parts. Altogether more compact, these i70s are a sturdily built, efficiently finished design, and feature a 13cm fibreglass midrange driver and 25mm soft-dome tweeter in a closed cabinet.
Robust, flexible boxesThe lack of a reflex port carries the suggestion of some flexibility with regards to positioning, but it also raises a question: can this infinite baffle tiddler generate meaningful low-frequency presence? ‘Yes' is the short answer, though that's far from the complete story.
Having established that the i70s, while far from picky about the position you site them, are a little more even-handed and unified when fairly close to a rear wall, a listen to Yusef Lateef's simmering Eboness offers plenty of information.
The soundstage they produce is unexpectedly large, and stereo imaging is convincing. The midrange is expressive and spacious, with plenty of air around instruments, even as they're capably integrated into the whole, and entry into high-frequency sounds is straight-edged and positive.
Problems down belowIt's in the low-frequency reproduction that the problems lurk.
More after the break
There's a thickness to the usually sinuous bassline in Ugly Duckling's gregarious Journey to Anywhere that impacts negatively on detail and tonality, an over-egging quality that makes the low-end a blunt and indistinct instrument.
Worse, this ill-advised low-end richness undoes a lot of the good work that's happening higher up the frequency range and renders the i70s' overall sonic signature as rather dull and matter-of-fact.
This affliction isn't so serious that it makes the i70s downright bad speakers, but it does make them damnably difficult to love.
Quite simply, the I.US i70s are waiting for an owner with a very particular set of requirements: in this instance someone with an amplifier that's whippet-thin and similarly fast where low frequencies are concerned.