Review: Insten Portable Docking Speakers

Full disclosure – I didn’t buy a high-end iPod speaker dock. As a matter of fact, calling what I bought an iPod speaker dock is a stretch: it has a standard headphone jack connector that fits in a wide variety of devices, my iPhone included. It won’t charge your phone, even though it is battery-powered and has a 6V (either from USB or another source) connector as an optional power source. I’m not even sure if you can use both at the same time because I’m afraid to try. However, the speakers do have a nifty little clip that will hold your device in place and even end up looking kind of like an iHome without any fancy features.

Insten Speaker Dock

The word “swag” almost pops into my head when I see this.

Oh, I forgot to mention that you can buy a pair of these headphones here for the too-low-not-to-try price of $7.49. With free shipping. Considering that and the five-egg reviews, I decided that these would probably do everything I needed them to, so I pulled the trigger. A week or so later, they arrived after being mailed in a bag. I was a little surprised, since these are plastic and don’t even have speaker covers and thus are probably somewhat fragile.

In your hand, these speakers do feel a little bit cheap, but I wouldn’t say they feel $7.49 cheap. Both the volume control and power switch feel solid enough, but the audio cord is pretty short and feels flimsy. It won’t last. The battery cover doesn’t snap into place very convincingly and that magic phone holder feels like it would snap pretty easily. The glaring lack of speaker covers also adds to how cheap these look. Still, the blue power LED is very bright and I’ve still seen much more poorly made products sell for much more money.

Folded Speakers

Yes, they will fit in your pocket for convenient carrying, albeit a little awkwardly.

$7.49 becomes an even better deal for these speakers when you take the sound they are able to produce into account. I didn’t know what to think when I saw that these speakers have a response range of 150 Hz to 18 kHz. I’m more experienced as a headphone buyer, but for the sake of comparison, my Sennheiser HD 448s have a response range of 16 Hz to 24 kHz, meaning that they are able to produce a far better range of sounds, particularly in the bass neighborhood. You don’t really hear any noises above 16 kHz so that’s irrelevant here.

That being said, you won’t mistake these speakers for the auditory masterpieces that are the Shure SE 215s and the Sennheiser HD 448s anytime soon. These speakers don’t sound overwhelmingly tinny but they are definitely treble-heavy. The underlying bass components from dubstep songs are more or less absent. Zomboy’s “Bass Cannon” remix is just some weird noises. Still, for most other genres (including a lot of electronica), these speakers are surprisingly punchy and hold their own. These speakers make your music way louder than your iPhone’s built-in speaker. My iPhone said they managed to produce 93ish dB at about a foot away before they started to clip a lot. Not too shabby.

To summarize:

  • Pros: Value – the sound quality, construction, convenience and volume for the money. Free shipping is a big plus, too.
  • Cons: Still not very well made, lack of bass, lack of AC adapter, does not include rechargeable batteries, will not charge iPhone.

I give the Insten Portable Docking Speakers 4/5 stars.

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