Kicker Speaker Dock Review
Kicker is set to release the zKick speaker dock May 1st 2008, but Zune Scene got some hands on time with the device a month early. This dock works with all Zune sizes (80,30,8,4) and has a MSRP of $350 although early buyers can get $50 off.
The packaging uses the brown, orange, magenta theme like the official Zune player boxes.
The speakers ship with 3 separate inserts for the 3 Zune sizes, full function remote, power cable, and manual.
The LCD and control knob are backlit with blue light and accent the black plastic enclosure. Silver trim highlights the unique trapezoidal shape giving the whole unit a "Darth Vader" futuristic look.
From the side it's easy to see the pyramid shape of the zK500. The unit looks much better in 3D than in photos so if you get a chance be sure to get a close look at a retailer.
Hiding behind the unit is a powerful 6" sub called the "square passive radiator". Actually there is nothing passive about it, we'll get to that later.
Notice the built in handle, great for moving the 9.2 pound dock from room to room.
If you own a laptop or other non-zune device it can be connected with a common 1/8th inch cord as an input. For this review we specifically had the pleasure of hearing a capital ship explode on the zKick while playing Sins of a Solar Empire.
Standard RCA and composite video out will let you connect the zKick to a TV and watch movies off the Zune.
The unit has adjustable treble and bass response from 1-9 and volume from 1-40. These options are accessed by pressing the control knob. You can also switch between Zune and Aux input or enter a standby mode which charges the Zune while the zKick is off.
The Kicker remote has access to every menu and every command on the Zune. Be careful, some Zune dock remotes do not offer this functionality. Kicker did the right thing by not skimping out on the remote. The plastic inserts are very helpful for docking the devices. People that own multiple Zune sizes can forget the inserts and dock without them.
Along with the rear driver, the zKick has a pair of 5" woofers and 3/4" silk dome tweeters. The manual indicates RMS power at 1% distortion is 2x20 Watts. Listening to the speakers for the first time was pretty much as expected. The suprize came when we turned up the volume and waited to hear some distortion. Then turned it up some more. Still sounded nice. At that point we were well past 20 and had no idea how much further we dare go, but felt it was our responsibility to blow the speakers for the sake of science. We gave the bass and treble +5 each on the eq then went past 30. Amazingly the dock kept playing and we had to worry about the neighbors. Finally at the max volume of 40 we had reached Kicker nirvana. This unit is loud, very loud. At 40 it still sounds solid, but you may blow your ears before you blow out the zKick.
The sound quality at human levels (about 7-18) is wonderful. Vocals come through true, and those bass frequencies show up that are missing on smaller speakers. It's easy to recommend the zKick.
OK the zKick has it all. Full remote functions, aux input, RCA output, killer looks and relentless power. As of today there are three Zune speaker brands on the market at three different price ranges. The zKick comes priced in the middle but has a heart and soul of a much bigger device. Definitely audition one if you are in the market.