Jan. 17, 2012 at 3:21 PM ET
When the K-array Ecodock first arrived at my door, I thought it was an innocent chunk of plastic — heck, I barely knew what it was supposed to do. But now I know better. Now I know that it is an evil device which will amplify the sounds my iPhone makes until my ears twitch in pain.
You see, the Ecodock is a strange loudspeaker for iPhones — or more specifically, for the iPhone and iPhone 4S. It doesn't require wires, batteries, or any sort of power source. Instead it "uses the natural laws of physics" to amplify whatever comes out of your device's speakers.
The way the whole thing works is that the Ecodock — which consists of several pieces of Plexiglas and four screws — distributes "acoustic energy" over a wide air surface. In essence, it functions like a horn.
If K-array's claims are to be trusted, the Ecodock can boost sound by up to 10 decibels.
But how well do these claims stand up in the real world? Uh ... a little too well, perhaps.
After using the Ecodock with my iPhone 4S for about half an hour, I was left with the nagging sensation that a headache is developing. The device amplifies sounds quite well — with it, my iPhone drowned out my MacBook Air and its quiet speakers — but it boosts everything a bit too much, including those twangy higher notes.
Of course, this annoyance is most obvious when the iPhone's volume is set to the maximum. Any lower and the Ecodock's effect is quite pleasant and even appears to provide clearer sound than a bare iPhone speaker.
So would I recommend that you dash off and buy an Ecodock? Probably not, because I prefer the sound quality from normal speaker docks. But I'd say that it might be wise to keep an eye out for similar devices. After all, someone's bound to improve on the Ecodock concept.
You can order your very own Ecodock through the K-array website. It will set you back $20.
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