Rating: ★★★★☆

At first blush Xtrememac’s Tango TRX looks like any other iPod dock speaker. After all, it does have a speaker and the quintessential 30-pin dock connector (compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod).  Aesthetically it’s rather easy on the eyes thanks to the minimalist design and my personal favorite, black with orange highlights.  But it’s what’s inside, what the Tango RX accomplishes from a sound perspective that makes it not quite awe inspiring, but at the very least drives the desire to champion the product, especially in a category in which exists Goliaths, such as iHome, iLuv and Yamaha.

LED volume and source lights – the almost all black finish attracts dust

Hidden beneath the Tango TRX’s cold hard and really cool looking exterior is a 2.1 channel speaker system.  Packed inside the tiny box, which isn’t much longer than 12-inches are two midrange drivers, two tweeters and a subwoofer.  To play music through the speakers you’ve got a few options: the already mentioned 30-pin dock, Bluetooth connectivity and an AUX input for those that lack an iProduct or an MP3 player with Bluetooth. Perched atop of the Tango TRX are 5 rubber buttons: play/pause, bass, treble and source.  Their operation was a bit wonky and at times took two firm presses to illicit a reaction.  To adjust the bass or treble you use the volume knob after hitting the appropriate button. Lastly, just above the volume button are 9 LED lights.  They indicate the volume while the latter 3 do double duty and represent which source (iPod, Bluetooth or AUX) you’ve selected.

Volume knob; also adjust bass and treble when selected

Like all good and respectable companies, XtremeMac has produced an accompanying iPhone app.  Before you jump to conclusion and accuse it of being just another iPod player, like I did, you should know that it includes a 5 band EQ, not found any where else on the device.  Additionally, the app can change the actual volume and ‘source’ of the Tango TRX when you’re streaming your tunes over Bluetooth.  A neat little feature, which I discovered by happenstance, was that changing the Tango TRX’s volume, while connected to my iPhone over Bluetooth, was reflected in the apps volume slider in real time, as were the other functions.  The app does however lack the ability to peruse the iPhone’s music library.

Xtrememac includes a physical card credit sized remote.  Unfortunately, mine didn’t work, but to be honest I didn’t care all that much, though I couldn’t change volume or switch tracks while my iPhone was docked.  They’ve also tossed in a charging dock, which is convenient if you want to stream your tunes over Bluetooth from a set location (e.g by the couch) and not kill your battery.

Play/pause, bass, treble and source buttons

According to the instructions you can receive telephone calls when connected over Bluetooth on the Tango TRX thanks to the built-in mic.  I tried on multiple occasion, but to no avail could I get the callers voice to route through the speaker and nor could they hear me.  Perhaps a later iOS update will make this feature compatible – iOS 4.2 made the iPad compatible with the iHome iA100.

Aux and power input

In terms of sound quality I was very impressed, especially given the size of the device.  It out performed the recently reviewed iHome iA100 by providing greater bass, more amplitude and all together better fidelity.  This box won’t out do the volume of Sonos’ S5 box, but it’s on par all things relative to size.  Lastly, the 5 band EQ, which has a few presets (rock, pop, etc) enhances the performance of the speakers in accordance with the music being played, which is a nice option if you listen to a wide array of music.  Sound quality over Bluetooth, which by the vey laws of wireless, is significantly less full than a docked iPhone.  I ran into some ‘source’ issues when switching from Bluetooth to a docked iPhone, but nothing that couldn’t be resolved by cycling through the source list.

While not completely bug free, albeit minor ones, I’m very pleased with the sound quality, build quality and over all design of the Tango TRX.  It should be a welcome edition to any room and thanks to its big output should fill the void for any audio enthusiast looking for an all in one sound solution with a small footprint and 30-pin dock.

Xtrememac’s Tango TRX can be purchased from Amazon for $179.99.  If you want the included charging dock it’s an additional $20.



Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."