The market for iPod docking stations is huge and it is sometimes difficult to find good value at the lower end of the pricing spectrum. I was pleasantly surprised to find the $100 Banshee JiSS-330 and $130 JiSS-550 actually sound quite good.
As you can see, they have an odd retro seashell look to them. I have not quite figured that out. But it was the performance that really surprised me.
The 550 features five speakers and a total of 25 Watts of power while the 330 is a three-speaker model with a more than adequate 10 watts of total power output. The 550 also has a simulated surround sound feature that is quite effective at providing room filling pleasant sound.
Both units come with a cool pointy remote control. The speakers are ported to allow for better sound quality, a feature not generally found on units in this price range. You’d have to step up to more than $200 units to get comparable or better sound.
Another plus are S-Video and Composite Video line outputs allowing users of first generation iPods to watch the video output on a connected TV. A line in connector allows the units to connect with computers, games, satellite radios and all other MP3 players. The 550 sports an externally connected iPod dock while the 330 has a top-mounted built-in iPod dock. These are NOT compatible with iPhone.
I see the appeal of these units primarily for tweens to college grads, whether in a bedroom or dorm, or even in a larger family area or office. They may appear to be large, but they are not. The 330 is but eight inches wide by four and one quarter inch high by four inches deep. The 550 is just 12-3/8-inches wide by four and one quarter inches high and four inches deep. See? Pretty compact and, again, the sound is very good.
I found setup to be easy and I like the features. I thought it best to put these in the hands of users the design targets, so I sent one home with a friend of my 18-year old daughter and let my daughter try the other one. As expected, the girls love the products. No negatives from them. Not about the long and pointy remote nor the fact that it comes only in the black you see in the photos above. They both like to connect it to their bedroom TVs to watch videos from their iPods.
In conclusion, this pair of Banshees is a winner. Shop for best prices, which I have found to be about $80 for the 330 and $100 for the 550, making them even better values.