There are so many iPod speaker systems these days that we’ve resolved to cover only the most interesting devices. Boring, me-too products need not apply. Griffin’s Journi made the cut by virtue of its stylish industrial design.
When closed, the Journi looks every bit like a stylish woman’s clutch. Unfold the rigid outer shell, insert tab A into slot B, and you have a convenient speaker stand with a built-in iPod docking port.
An ingenious dial on the back of the speaker adjusts a rubber support disc behind the iPod, so you can mash any model iPod’s buttons without putting undue stress on its dock connector. You can keep the iPod ensconced in its dock when you take the speaker system with you, too. A magnetic catch holds the assembly securely closed. The Journi’s shell offers genuine protection, but take care when you unwrap it: The top of the iPod can flop around, putting strain on the docking connector.
Another set of magnets holds a small infrared remote control inside a well on the back of the Journi. The remote lets you skip tracks forward and back and play and pause songs; it also switches the speakers on and off and controls their volume.
The Journi’s Lithium-Ion battery can be recharged using either A/C power or a USB connection (you can sync a docked iPod to iTunes in the latter scenario). You can measure battery strength by pushing a button on the left side and counting how many of the four LEDs light up.
After giving the Journi all those style points, listening to it was a bit of a letdown. We typically shun post-processing audio tricks (Creative’s 24-bit Crystalizer being a notable exception), so we were disappointed to discover we couldn’t defeat the Journi’s SRS Wow circuit. The amplifier, meanwhile, is noisy enough that we heard its hiss above our PC’s fan, and it distorts badly when pushed. Finally, the 2.5-inch passive radiators offer little bass compensation for the small 1.97-inch active drivers, resulting in a rather shrill audio experience.
Good looks; innovative design; charging/syncing via USB.