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Luna5 Encore iPhone/iPod speaker dock review

Sections: iDevice Accessories, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod, iPod Accessories, iPod Docks and Speakers, iPod touch, Reviews

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Luna5 EncoreProvides: iPod speaker dock and FM radio
Developer: Edifier
Minimum Requirements: iPhone/iPod with dock port, any device with 3.5mm audio output
Price: $299.00
Availability: Now

How would you like to put the moon on your desk? No, Gru hasn’t been here with his shrink ray, Edifier has made a desktop iDevice speaker dock called the Luna5 Encore for your listening pleasure.

 

The Luna5 encore sports an abbreviated hemispherical design with a diameter of approximately 15”, height approximately 16”, and depth approximately 10”. If you are measuring some shelf space for it, please add another 1” for the depth (allow 11” total); this will allow enough room for the power cord input at the back of the unit.

The back housing is available in white or black, and the front screen material flat black. The console section at the bottom is a 3/4 disc and incorporates the control buttons, iPod/iPhone docking port, auxiliary input port, and radio tuner. Yes, the Luna 5 comes with an FM tuner. The bottom console has a silver tone band around the front and a glossy black plastic top. The controls and indicators on the console light up red when the power is on and the light level of the individual control being used will increase its light output to indicate it is being used (a bit like car brake lights).

Luna5 Encore

Let’s move on to the features and specifications. The Luna5 is primarily an iPod/iPhone dock, so it comes with several inserts to get the best fit and support for your particular model of iPhone, iPod or iPod Touch (iPad users keep reading—there’s something for you in a bit…). There are three modes available: FM, iPod and AUX. The FM tuner is fairly decent, but you can’t extend or augment the antenna so you may need to move the unit around to find your reception sweet spot. The iPod dock is the standard docking port set at a slight angle so your iDevice leans back a little.

Now for the iPad (and other device) users: AUX. The auxiliary input is a 2.5mm input jack under a flap on the front of the base unit. Since the Luna5 comes with a 3mm male to 2.5mm male adapter cable (approx. 37”), you can plug in your iPad or any other device with a 3mm output. You don’t get the charging benefit, and there is some signal attenuation, but you can plug in other types of music players. The Luna 5 Encore also comes with a cable to connect stereo RCA to 3mm (approx. 65”) as well as an adapter cable with a 3mm female end and 2.5mm male end (approximately 5”) giving it a good connectivity flexibility.

Luna5 encore also comes with a handy wireless remote. The layout is simple and easy to use. If you have your iDevice plugged into the iPort you can make use of the menu controls in the middle of the remote to scroll through and select playlists or songs, etc. There are buttons to select the mode (FM, iPod or AUX) and six buttons for FM station presets. There are three banks of presets per button so you can set up to eighteen stations in memory. Pressing the FM button will cycle the unit through the three preset banks. The up and down arrows will change stations in FM mode and aid in menu navigation in iPod mode.

At the bottom middle of the remote is the ever popular Volume control. To the left of the volume control is the Sub (bass) up and down buttons, and the Treble up and down buttons are to the right of the volume control (in the event of a water landing… sorry, wrong speech). There is also a Mute button at the top left which can be handy for silencing the radio or auxiliary device.

The remote has some style, but isn’t gaudy or weird. It does have an almost tubular bottom so you can’t just reach over to the end table and press a button without picking up the remote because it will rock like a Weeble. The remote sensor on the base unit doesn’t have the largest reception arc, and the bass and treble controls can only be accessed with the remote control (a slightly annoying limitation). The remote does handle finding radio stations and setting the presets quite well. In FM mode, a tap on the menu button brings up an Auto search and store feature; press the Select button on the remote and the tuner will store the first 18 stations with which it can get a good signal lock. You can change or fine tune one at a time as well.

Checking in with the base/console section we have a few things going on. To start, the base is where the iDevice docking port is located – since this is a standard Apple hardware connection point there isn’t much to report. The port will “recline” your iPod at about 15 degrees, which is parallel to the angle of the line connecting the base unit to the curve of the face which give it a “just right” appearance. The control panel is flat and the “buttons” are touch-sensitive, akin to iPod touch control. You will need to touch and hold the control for a second to activate it; if you tap too quickly the control will light up but the device won’t recognize the input command. This seems to be an intentional safety net—you might brush against the controls accidentally, so the unit makes sure you really mean it when you touch the control buttons.

Luna 5 Encore

There are buttons for power, volume up, volume down, input, and left and right arrows for tracking/menu command. Over the power and volume buttons is the additional display information. There is a six character LED display and four backlit indicators. The backlit indicators will identify the mode—FM, iPod, or Aux—and, if the unit is in FM mode, the MHz indicator will be lit as well. Also while in FM mode, the six character display will show you the preset number and the frequency, or the volume level if you are adjusting the volume. When the Luna5 is in iPod or Aux mode, the six character LED display is limited to volume.

This brings me to the first of my concerns; given the price for this unit ($299.00), I would expect more than a six character LED indicator. It seems it could be more capable and informative. My second concern with the base unit is that unless you are hovering almost directly over the Luna5 you can’t read the display information since it is on the top surface of the base pointing at your ceiling (if it isn’t pointing at your ceiling, you may have some issues I can’t help you with…). Also, the LED layout gives the unit very limited shapes it can create. The treble control indicator looks like a seven, a backwards four and an E. If you remember your h4xr it may make more sense, but again, for the price it could be better (maybe a small, monochrome backlit LCD?).

The last concern I have with the base unit is the auxiliary input. The flap on the front face of the base unit keeps the image neat and symmetrical, but the flap is a bit unwieldy. However, my biggest gripe with the auxiliary input is the 2.5mm female input. Really? 2.5mm? Maybe it’s just a USA thing, but the overwhelming majority of devices are 3.5mm (1/8”) and it’s not like the extra 1mm is a great concern. The use of the 2.5mm means we are now sidled with yet another adapter/dongle to contend with. As mentioned above, the Luna5 comes with three adapter cords, one of them to bridge the 3.5mm to the 2.5mm input. This seems to be a bit too much clutter for something that is trying to be sleek and, almost, minimalist.

Last, and most importantly, we get to the sound. Here is where the Luna5 encore makes up for the shortcomings. With only one 5.75” sub and two (verifiable…see the specs section below) speakers for mid and high, the sound is actually pretty darn good. All of the drivers are magnetically shielded so you don’t need to worry about interference in proximity to CRT displays or older TVs. The device also uses E.I.D.C. (Electrical Intelligent Distortion Control) to help control the sound quality. The only distortion or pegging I encountered came at or near full volume with a song with a heavy bass sound. It is easier if you are using an audio playback app that has its own preamp—the extra gain can add up quickly and produce pronounced clipping. When using the standard iDevice audio playback it is difficult to get significant distortion of sound. The sound produced by this shelf-top unit is fairly full and clean. Even the radio sounds good when you have a strong signal.

The downer with the sound quality is that you don’t get good stereo separation since the unit is only 15” wide. If you are facing it and your head is centered on the unit, you can discern some stereophonic effect (both channels are there) but it still sounds like a high end mono rig. This is not a major shock since the unit is basically one half of a pair of old school stereo cabinet speakers (bass, mid, and treble speakers with ported bass) in a round housing. A minor gripe with the sound control is that the bass control range is +/-10 and the treble +/-3, and for a $299 unit I would like a bit more control over shaping the sound. Another plus is that the Luna5 sounds clean and full even at low volume.

The last element is a bit of an aside, but there is a power adapter on the outside with a detachable power cable. The unit will plug in to any power supply from 100V to 240V at 50Hz to 60Hz and send the unit its preferred 20V at 2.75A. I can understand going after a more global market, but here is where another adapter (universal plug adapter) would be a good idea. Also, finding a way to integrate the transformer into the base unit and having only one cord connection, or only one plug adapter, seems to be a cleaner design to go along with the simple design of the Luna5. Maybe a future version?

As promised, following are some of the specifications I got from the Edifier website. You will notice the “(vs ….)” information; this was taken from the Luna5 encore user’s manual. The difference seems to be related to the “testing level” (except the impedance rating for the 2.5 inch speaker which may just be a typo). Keeping the gain/volume turned down makes the power usage and signal to noise ratio look better but may not be accurate for normal usage.

Model Number: iF500
Total power output: RMS 10W x 2 + 32W x 1 (vs satellites 9W x 2; subwoofer 34W)
(testing level): 10%
Signal to noise ratio: ≥85dBA (vs >= 80 dBA)
Distortion: ≤0.5%
Input sensitivity: AUX: Satellites: 150mV ± 50mV | Subwoofer: 100mV ± 50mV / (vs satellites 750mV +/- 50mV; subwoofer 200mV +/- 50mV)
iPod/iPhone: Satellites: 150mV ± 50mV | Subwoofer: 100mV ± 50mV (vs satellites 600mV +/- 50 mV; subwoofer 150 mV +/- 50mV)
Subwoofer / bass unit: 5¾ inch, Magnetically shielded, 6Ω
Midrange / high unit: 2¾ inch, Magnetically shielded, 6Ω
Tweeter unit: 2½ inch, Magnetically shielded, 6Ω (vs 4Ω)
Dimension: 376mm x 390mm x 240mm (W x H x D)
Weight: ≈4.70Kg (Net) | ≈6.10Kg (Gross)

Another apparent inconsistency shows up when I compared the website information, which states the Luna5 encore has five drivers, to the product specs. The Total Power Output and impedance specs seem to indicate there are only three speakers/drivers.

After all the evidence is considered, the verdict is that if you don’t have a lot of shelf space the Luna5 encore looks interesting yet unobtrusive and sounds really nice. There is no great stereo separation, the control panel output is clunky looking and the sonic controls are limited, but the unit produces inherently good sound quality.

There are enough annoying little “misses” that I don’t think it warrants the price tag. If the visual and space concerns overpower the price tag, then the Luna5 is a contender, but I’d rather have a unit with more refined controls for the price.

Appletell Rating:
 review

Buy the Edifier iF500 Luna 5 Encore iPod/iPhone/MP3 Dock with FM Radio

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