Review: Griffin Technology AirCurve Acoustic Amplifier for iPhone


My initial thoughts upon receiving the Griffin Technology AirCurve to review were, “Great, a speaker that requires no power. That’s cool.” I thought about it some more and began to feel differently though. I came to a new conclusion that for all the coolness and “green-ness” of its lack of power consumption, that it may not be as realistic or as practical as it seems for repeated use. I mean, we know that the battery life on the iPhone is not that great right? So anywhere I would be away from a power source long enough to require the benefits of an “un-powered” speaker would be too long for the iPhone battery to sustain as your sole sound system provider for very long in the first place—like if you were camping for 3 days or something. And if you are at home or at the office, where electricity is abundant, why not just plug in some regular powered speakers and get more volume and bass response?

Whoa now. Lets back up a bit shall we. First of all, what exactly IS the AirCurve?

The AirCurve is an acoustic speaker for the iPhone 2G and 3G that is made by Griffin Technology. It actually amplifies the iPhone’s tiny speaker’s output by about 10 decibels. By itself, the AirCurve’s minimalist design is elegant enough and when propped up on top, the iPhone has a nice visual appeal too. Generally, it seemed like something I would think of as pretty neat. But I kept thinking to myself “is this something I would really use?”

As I stated, I was skeptical, but vowed to use it enough to get a real sense of its capability. Just so you know, it is a naturally amplified acoustic speaker and that means exactly what it sounds like it means. It can only do with what it is given, and the output of that little iPhone speaker is not much to work with, from a fidelity standpoint. I have to say, that the volume it achieves is impressive, but to be frank, it does lack much of the bass response that regular powered speakers provide. But the more I used it, the more I found there was something nice and familiar about listening to music pumping thru the AirCurve—something nostalgic. It reminded me, with familiar brightness, of listening to a transistor radio as a kid, while washing the family car. It reminded of rocking out to Bruce Springsteen at picnics around that same time. There is something about the nice, low-tech echo it emits that grows on me and reminds me that human beings are still analog creatures no matter how digitized we become, as consumers. There is something nice about propping the iPhone up on this little cochlear port and hearing songs in lo-fi easy elegance—outside, inside or in the background. In short, after using it a bit, I found I really liked it for what it is.

Whoa. That’s deep, eh? Ok, maybe I’ve gone too far with the overly quippish anecdotalism. My point is that if you are searching for a high fidelity speaker solution for your iPhone 2G/3G then the AirCurve is not for you. However, if you are looking for a smart, easy and portable way to listen to music, in the background, then this device perfect. At $20 it won’t set you back that much and would be great for use in the backyard, in the kitchen or at a desk.

And if you buy it and are such a stuffy audiophile that you can’t appreciate its simple styling and quality, it would make a sweet fish dorm for your aquarium or an equally svelte container for spare change.

Bottom Line:
The AirCurve is recommended! Griffin does it again with smart, clever and creative tech solutions for mobile audio.

Editor’s Note: Yes, I know we already reviewed the AirCurve. Apparently we never sent Intern Jason the memo and now we have two viewpoints.