iPad Accessories: Speakers - dummies

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

You can connect just about any speakers to your iPad, but if you want decent sound, look only at powered speakers and not passive (unpowered) ones. The difference is that powered speakers contain their own amplification circuitry and can deliver much better (and louder) sound than unpowered speakers.

Prices range from well under $100 to hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars. Most speaker systems designed for use with your computer, iPod, or iPhone work well as long as they have an auxiliary input or a dock connector that can accommodate your iPad.

Desktop speakers for your iPad

Logitech makes a range of desktop speaker systems priced from less than $25 to more than $300. But that $300 system is the Z5500 THX-certified 505-watt 5.1 digital surround system — surely overkill for listening to music or video on your iPad, which doesn’t support surround sound anyway.

The point is that Logitech makes a variety of decent systems at a wide range of price points. If you’re looking for something inexpensive, you can’t go wrong with most Logitech powered speaker systems.

Another good buy, the Audioengine desktop speakers deliver superior audio at prices that are quite reasonable for speakers that sound this good. Audioengine 5 is the premium product; Audioengine 2 is its smaller but still excellent-sounding sibling.

They’re available only direct from the manufacturer, but the company is so confident that you’ll love them that it offers a free audition for their speaker systems. If you order a pair and don’t love them, return them within 30 days for a full refund.

Bluetooth speakers for your iPad

Like Bluetooth headsets, Bluetooth speakers let you listen to music up to 33 feet away from your iPad. They’re great for listening by the pool or hot tub or anywhere else you might not want to take your iPad.

Favorable reviews go to the wireless JAMBOX by Jawbone, a rechargeable speaker that offers very good sound despite being able to fit into the palm of your hand. You can connect via Bluetooth or its auxiliary stereo jack. An added bonus: JAMBOX doubles as a decent-enough speakerphone.

Docking your iPad with an extender cable

Because the iPad is much larger than an iPod or iPhone, you can’t just dock the iPad into a speaker system designed for the smaller devices. All is not lost if you’re partial to those speakers and still want to connect the iPad. CableJive, RadTech, and others sell “dock extender cables,” which allow you to use your iPad with any docking device no matter how small its dock.

This type of cable doesn’t work with S-video output, component video, and audio in for recording.