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Polk I-sonic

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
picked up the i-sonic yesterday from tweeter, I only been listening to hd radio part of the system and it sounds pretty decent. the bass is okay nothing to bragg about. radio sensitivity in my opinion is very good using a indoor tv antenna.
post #2 of 13
wow just saw the price of that thing how does it compare
to the cambridge soundworks and boston acoustic receptor
for sound.
post #3 of 13
$600 for a decked out clock radio?
post #4 of 13
Meh, not much more than a Bose Wave Radio that only offers AM & FM. At least the Polk has some features.
post #5 of 13
I've had the I-Sonic for four days now and have been listening to it at work.

I must say that the sound is impressive for a unit of its size. I'm also quite please with its features. I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the HD radio section however I am quite happy with it as well.

KABC 790 AM sounds just great after the HD locks in. I heard Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band this morning on KABC and while not quite "FM quality," is at least as good as XM (possibly better). My one complaint is that I had to move the unit away from my computer because it was causing HD on AM to fail to lock in despite extensive efforts to tune it in using a Terk AM Advantage antenna.

BTW, the unit works great with XM and has a good display. I haven't tried a DVD in it yet.

This is a great unit for my office at work. Now I want one for my home and bedroom.
post #6 of 13
I bought one yesterday and here are my intitial thoughts after about 24 hours of use. (first of all, I am using it in the bedroom for music and as a clock radio)

First, sound quality is good. I compared it at the store (tweeter equivalent), to the Boston Acoustics microsystem CD (no HD on this one) and the Boston Acoustics HD Receptor radio and it sounded the best of the three. (both for FM and CD). The prices of each were $600, $388 (just marked down from $499), and about $270. (the Receptor Radio does not have a CD player)

The build quality is also quite good. Built solid and looks the best of the three I thought, although clearly the biggest.

The two biggest issues I have are that it does not have a battery backup to run the clock and the alarm (the Boston Acoustics microsystem runs on a 9volt to power just the tone alarm and clock in the event of a power outage, and also has the supercapacitor to backup the settings). The Isonic has just the supercapacitor to back up settings. I live in Florida, and am subject to frequent power outages, so this is an issue.

The second issue that I think is important is the Alarm Volume is not settable. It uses the last volume that you used, so if you went to sleep listening to a cd at a soft volume, you may not hear your alarm in the morning. (the Boston Acoustics has independent alarm volumes for each alarm)

The menu system is fairly easy to use, but does make the device a bit more difficult to use than a typical alarm clock. I found the time that a screen or menu stays up a bit too short. I often would not decide or hit a button fast enough and the menu would change back to the home screen/clock too quickly). This may get a bit better once I learn all of the menus, but for things like selecting a radio station out of 10 presets, if you don't choose within about 5 seconds, the screen is gone.

I found the remote difficult to use in the dark. The buttons all feel alike and you cannot even tell easily whether you are holding the remote upside down/reversed. A backlight or strategic button placement or tactile shapes would go a long way to make this more of a bedroom friendly remote. I quickly programmed/learned all of the buttons to my MX-500 and think I will keep this little one in a drawer somewhere. (the Boston Acoustics microsystem cd does have a nice spot to keep the remote, under the fold-down faceplate. I would bet is is easy to misplace these little remotes, in addition to the difficulty using them in the dark).

I have not tried the external am antenna yet (just the internal) but wanted to hear if there were any HD am stations and if they really sounded like FM quality. Unfortunately I ran the AM dial and heard no stations at all. This compares to my 30 year old GE cheap $40 clock radio which got about 10 AM radio stations sitting in the same spot, also with no external antenna, I don't understand fully why a $5 cheapie radio usually has better AM sensitivity that either my $1200 Denon receiver (with external antenna) or this $600 radio, but obviously most people don't buy this for the AM (but occasionally there is the college football game I would like to listen to).

Most store bought cds play nicely, with quite good sound quality as mentioned above. (for the size unit). I have not tried any DVD's, but do not plan to hook this up to a monitor.

I did come across one store bought cd that would not play properly (multiple dropouts throughout the cd). I cleaned it with no improvement. There were no visible marks or scratches and it played on every other player in the house I tried (my dvd player and another cd player).

I tried creating 2 wma/mp3 cd's, and could not get it to read properly. I have never made an mp3 or wma cd, so I may not have done it properly (I tried both copying the folder to the cd, and using roxio cd creator to burn it as an audio mp3 disk. (both times the isonic saw it as a dvd, and did not play anything.

I put in a few cd's that I have burned (in cd format) and they played nicely and sounded quite good, even though most of them came from the mp3/wma licensed format originally.

The cd player is a bit louder than I would like as well. It makes a high pitched sound when it starts to read the disk, and is also audible at times during the quieter sound passages. For this price, I would have preferred quieter. (I guess, if you had the unit further from you, and not at the bedside, you might not hear it).

I am not sure why they chose to show text on HDFM and XM radio, but not on FM (at least I have not seen any yet, except the station caller ID only on HDFM.) I do not see the signal strength meter on plain FM either, but do on HDFM)

I would have liked a way to cycle through presets stations on the unit and on the remote. (perhaps using the channel up/down button on my MX-500. The only ways to choose preset stations seems kind of cumbersome, either hitting "preset" and then the number of the preset station, or by going on the unit to the preset menu, and tabbing down to the one you want. (each time having to start at the first entry).

I came across a glitch I cannot explain as well. I was testing the alarms this morning, and set alarm 1 for 7:30. It went off as scheduled on the tone alarm, as it was supposed to, but alarm 2 which was set for 6:15 and it went off a minute later (at about 7:31), and the alarm changed to the cd player. I will need a few more days of testing for this. (the second alarm was turned off at 6:15, but I set it to "on" when I set the other one to 7:30 at about 7:25 am)

I was wondering if anyone knows if the firmware/software is upgradable on this at any point if they fix or improve glitches (as it was on my other cd/dvd players).

Also, let me know if anyone finds a better external antenna. I have bought the crane reflect antenna, but have not gotten it yet. I will let you know if it improves reception when it arrives. So far, with the FM external that comes with it, most of the FM and HD fm stations have sounded pretty good. There is one station that comes in weakly that I would like to get better however.

For now.......I am going to keep this unit, but I did debate exchanging it for the BA microsystem CD to save $300 on a glorified alarm clock. (I still give it about an 8/10, but for this price, I would expect a 9 or 10). If I sound like I don't like the unit as a whole.....I do. It is overall fairly impressive. It is the most expensive clock radio I have ever bought, and is quite good, but could be in my opinion great, with only a few changes.

As an addendum I found the manual especially lousy. I do not see it mentioned, but found the easiest way to enter times for the clock and the alarms is to enter the numbers directly using the number buttons on the remote keypad rather than using the up/down button on the unit. (unfortunately, they did not seem to carry over this idea to radio station selection. The direct entry of numbers for radio frequency would be a plus as well, and was on my last $40 clock radio)
post #7 of 13
Just an addendum after a couple more days of use.

The cd player seems very quirky and finicky. Sometimes it recognizes my self burned cd's, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it just makes a whirling and high pitched noise, and never reads it, sometimes it finally reads it but makes skipping sounds when it is playing. These cd's play fine on my other 3 cd and or dvd players in my house, as well as the cd player in my car.

I have yet to figure out how to burn mp3s/wma disks to get this machine to recognize it. I have tried (more like wasted) about 8 cd's trying multiple different ways and folder configurations, none of which can be read by the I-sonic.

I have had a couple of store bought cd's act kinda funny as well. (although many play fine as well).

The remote acts quirky as well. Sometimes it accepts the command on the first try, sometimes it takes multiple tries (this is both with the included remote and my MX-500) (pointed directly at the unit)

Also, I find navigating the radio presets still not as easy as it should be. An Up/down button on the remote would be really helpful. When you get to the preset menu and highlight a station, if you hit "enter" on the remote it backs you out of the menu, rather than choosing the station. To choose the station you also have to scroll to "recall" as well as highlighting the station. (you can also hit the number of the station, but unless you are right on top of the unit, or remember what each of your 30 stations is numbered, you cannot always see the numbers clearly, since they are pretty small.)

By the way......got the Crane Reflect FM antenna, and it makes a pretty big difference. All stations come in better. The one station that I really want to get in clearly, now is listenable, but still will not lock in the HD signal much of the time. This is much better then before, even the FM would not come in. Every other HD FM station comes in crystal clear. I highly recommend this antenna for the price. I compared it to the one that comes with the I-sonic as well as the Terk AM/FM plus. This one wins hands down.
post #8 of 13
Maybe your unit is defective. I've had no trouble playing CD-Rs (haven't tried CD-RWs). My only complaint is that it plays MP3 tracks in a seemingly random order. I have five folders on my MP3 disc and it skips all over the place. I have the tracks labeled with proper I.D. tags.
post #9 of 13
Ever since Jean-Paul's incident at the olympics
there have been no seperate knobs for the radio alarm.
To quote Jean-Paul,"Why seperate knob?Why seperate knob?"
post #10 of 13
From what I have read about all the high end HD Radios with a clock to wake me up in the morning I like the I-Sonic BUT you cannot program any of the alarms for either "weekdays or weekends "only which is important to me.
I realize that these hd radios are all about sound quality and not about the alarm features,but for such exspensive radios youi would think that added features for the alarms would be there also.Hell I have an el cheapo sony clock radio($17 Best Buy) that does weekdays and or weekends only and a $24 Sony clock radio that each day of the week is programable.
I would have an I-Sonic today if that little alarm feature "weekdays or weekends only" was present in that high quality radio.
The first high quality HD Radio that hits the market with better alarm features gets my money to bump my el cheap Sony off the night stand and I hope it will be the I-Sonic
post #11 of 13
Has anyone compared HD reception on the I-Sonic with other HD radios? I have a Receptor HD that can't hold an HD station for more than a couple minutes ...even with an amplified antenna. My Accurian, with the piece of wire that came with it does great...but is a little lacking in the sound quality. The receptor sounds crummy from more than 10 feet away...all you hear is overdriven tinny "bass". Oh well, I needed a $300 bookend.
I'd invest in an I-sonic if I was assured it would perform well. I complained to Boston Acoustics and they said they knew that the Accurian reception was better, but they offered no solutions. HD is doomed for failure if it were up to Boston Acoustics.
post #12 of 13
I've owned an I-sonic now for a couple of months.. I have been able to compare it with the JVC hdr1 car head unit on the bench. I have an FM turnstile antenna in the attic with a Channel Master 7777 preamp to give things a little 'boost'.. Overall, the I-sonic's reception is pretty decent with this setup. I continue to receive most HD stations approx 100 miles out from my location although that is the outermost fringe.

Comparing this to the JVC car unit.. I find that the JVC is a little more sensitive than the Polk unit, but not by a whole lot. I have neither gained nor lost any HD stations between either unit, however, I do find that the JVC tends to lock on the most distant stations easier than the Polk. The Polk spends a good deal of time trying to digest the incoming data stream on those weak signals whereas the JVC senses it and in a couple of seconds it's on there. Both units sound great, both do AM HD quite well.

Personally, I think the I-sonic is worth the investment even though I do have to agree with the rest of you, it's a pricey box for what you get. But like others, the audio quality is very good as well as the acceptable reception as long as a reasonably efficient external antenna is used.

post #13 of 13
Has anyone had the chance to compare it to the Sangean HD Radio? I am curious to see it compared.

I know that the UI is the main issue on Sangean, but where does it stand when compared to sound quality? Reception? Etc.

Thanks for the input.
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