Saturday, August 27, 2011

The World's Most Powerful iPod Dock? Athena iVoice

Athena iVoice iPod Dock

What is the world's most powerful iPod dock? Is it the Athena iVoice? Well, not likely, but I decided to test one of these iVoice docks on the oldschoolstereo test bench. I have one of these units with a bad speaker, so I decided to pull it apart and test the amplifier using my resistor load.

The Athena iVoice is an amazingly good sounding iPod dock. I've been VERY impressed with these docks since I first purchased one on closeout a few years ago. The unit also has a 1/8" input so you can also use it with other portable music devices, computers, cell phones, etc...any device with a 1/8" output. Trust me, you won't believe the sound coming out of dual 3.5" speakers! The bass is very punchy, mids extremely transparent and even the highs will surprise you. Another useful feature of the Athena iVoice is the built-in power supply. No external power brick needed with this dock! (just a light-weight 6 foot power cable) Probably the only real downside is the lack of an internal battery for portable usage. The dock also includes a USB port for iTunes syncing and a RCA video output for passing signals from an iPod Photo or iPod Video 5G (not sure about 5.5G or iPod "Classic"?). My iPhone 4 fits on the dock, but will not charge and gives me a "not compatible" warning. That said, it will pass audio from the iPhone.

Athena iVoice with Metal Speaker Grill Removed

Athena iVoice Rear Connections

Here are the iVoice specs from Athena:

Design:Direct Radiating iPod Dock Sound System
  • Wall mountable - Provides Greater Installation Flexibility
  • USB Connectivity - Allows the iPod to Sync with iTunes on your Computer
  • IR Remote Control - Remotely Controls your iPod and the iVoice
  • Charges iPod While Docked
Frequency Response:65 Hz — 17 kHz
System Power:25 Watts RMS / Channel
Input:3.5mm Audio Input - Can be Used with Any Portable Audio Device (with an Audio Output) or Computer
Output:Composite Video Output - Allows an iPod Photo / Video to Output Video Content to an External Display Device
Dimensions — Standard:
(Height x Depth x Width)
5" x 15-½" x 6-½"
Dimensions — Metric:
(Height x Depth x Width)
140cm x 393cm x 170cm
Weight:4.7 lbs / 2.1 kgs

Polished High Gloss Black

Well, enough talk about the sound and specs of the iVoice, what about the output power? Athena says 25 watts RMS per channel, which honestly, is a LOT of power for 3.5" speakers. My test involved sacrificing one of my iVoice docks, so see the internals below:

Athena iVoice Internal Components

As you can tell by the pictures, the 3.5" speakers appear to have neodymium magnets and a dual-cone design for enhanced highs. A quick measurement of each speaker show a load of approx. 6.8 ohms. Since my resistor loads are setup for 8, 4 and 2 ohm configurations, these are the loads I decided to use for my testing.  I honestly wasn't sure the tiny "BASH" Class D amp could handle the 2 ohm tests, but decided to do it anyway...why not?

So, did Athena accurately rate the internal amplifier? Well, I guess it depends on the testing parameters they used. For my 1000 Hz tone resistive load test, the amp seems to be somewhat overrated. See the video for the detailed test results, but the approximate measured RMS wattage was 10, 20 & 32 (at 8, 4 and 2 ohms, respectively). 

Although the Athena iVoice may not be the world's most powerful iPod dock, it is the most powerful iPod dock measured on the oldschoolstereo test bench! (as of August 2011)

Watch the demo in 1080p HD or embedded below:



Thursday, August 18, 2011

RF Punch 150HD vs PG MS-275 - Part 2 - Power Output Tests

As promised, here is the update of the comparison between the Rockford Fosgate Punch 150HD and Phoenix Gold MS-275....I call it "Part 2 - Power Output Test"

Before I get started, I wanted to stress the importance of changing out the capacitors if you have a Phoenix Gold MS or MPS series amp. My MS-275 is in MINT condition and appears to have little use, however the caps still showed signs of leaking. In order to prevent a blown up amp and possibly starting a fire, I sent the amp to Envision Electronics ( for the capacitor replacement. Although they make no mention of amplifier repair, the owner, Aaron Hammet has an extensive background in designing, building and repairing amplifiers. I was extremely pleased with his work and professionalism and highly recommend contacting for your Phoenix Gold capacitor replacements!

The 2nd part to my shootout between the 150HD and MS-275 involves resistive power output tests using 100hz test tones. This may not be the most accurate method for obtaining maximum RMS output power, however it is the method I used for this comparison. If you've not seen my bench setup before, see my previous posting about the components used.

Being a huge old school amp fan, I've always wanted to see the power output of the 150HD. Back in the early 90's, there were a few magazine tests of the Phoenix Gold amps (MS-250 and MS-275), but none of the 150HD. I had an idea of the expected power output of the MS-275 based on these magazine tests, but the infamous Punch 150HD had only sample birth sheets and I had never seen an example of the 4ohmsstereo and mono output. I've always heard these RF amps were "very" underrated, but what is the true RMS output? Read more to find out...

The Punch 150HD was a BEAST on the test bench. Rated at 75x2 4ohms stereo, it put out an effortless 119.2 watts x 2! The MS-275 was much less powerful at 80.9 x 2 into 4ohms stereo. It has been mentioned before the MS-275 has more "reserve" power for transient peaks, such as those in music. I didn't have a way to test true music output power, so you'll have to consider this when comparing the raw resistive output numbers. I appreciate any and all comments of my testing methods and those who disagree are more than welcomed to perform their own tests!

The Punch 150HD out powered the MS-275 in all of my resistive output tests. Here are the results in order of 4ohms stereo, 2ohms stereo, 4ohms mono and 2ohms mono:

RMS Watt Resistive Output:

1) Rockford Fosgate Punch 150HD - 119.2, 191.8, 299.2 and 330.2
2) Phoenix Gold MS-275 - 80.9, 134.1, 217.5 and 224.7    

See the video below or visit YouTube for the 720 and 1080P High-Definition versions.