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ATPM 10.02
February 2004

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Review: iFire

by Andrew Kator, akator@atpm.com

excellent

Developer: Griffin Technology

Price: $40

Requirements: Apple Pro Speakers; computer, iPod, or other device with FireWire and 1/8" audio output (headphone) jack.

In recent years, Apple has included the Apple Pro Speakers with iMacs. These unobtrusive and compact speakers deliver clear sound, and because of their size make a great portable audio solution. Unfortunately, they require a special amplified port that can only be found on iMacs.

Griffin Technology has solved the problem with the iFire Apple Pro Speaker adapter. This device allows for iBook, PowerBook, and iPod users to use the Apple Pro Speakers with their devices. The iFire works by taking the audio from the headphone port and amplifying it using power from FireWire.

ifire-ibook

Griffin includes the necessary cable that goes between the computer (or iPod) and the iFire, and the iFire itself is a compact package smaller than the Apple Pro Mouse. I had no problems setting up the iFire, and it requires no drivers or special software for use. Setup took less than a minute, including reading the three-step instruction sheet.

The iFire worked seamlessly with an iBook, and it was compact and easy to setup. The difference between the iBook’s built-in speakers and the Apple Pro Speakers was remarkable, making the iBook more suitable as a stand-alone media system. The advantages are immediately obvious for those who need greater impact for presentations or a decent portable media solution. It should be noted that as with any FireWire-powered device, using the iFire with an iBook or PowerBook that is running off the battery drains the battery more quickly.

ifire-mousepad

A concern for some might be how the iFire’s quality compares to the iMac’s built-in amplification. To compare the output quality between the two, I played a CD through the Apple Pro Speakers using the iMac’s built-in port, and then played the same tracks through the same iMac using the iFire to power the speakers. While this is an unscientific comparison, any major changes in distortion and frequency range should have been audible. A Miles Davis CD was used for the comparison because the CD offered uncompressed audio and the selection of music offered a wide frequency range with marked changes of instrumental emphasis and volume. There was no significant difference between the iFire and the iMac’s built-in Apple Pro Speaker output. The speakers sounded identical at the same volume levels (neither louder nor quieter with one or the other) and there was no noticeable difference in audio quality using the iFire.

Exactly as it is advertised, the iFire is an ideal solution for those who want to use their Apple Pro Speakers with other Macs or iPods. This makes the iFire and Apple Pro Speakers a good alternative for college students and those on the go who have space and portability considerations. For those who shelved their Apple Pro Speakers to use other speakers with their iMac, the iFire gives a reason to bring the unused equipment back into service.

Reader Comments (60)

Marco · July 1, 2004 - 18:46 EST #1
Do you have an idea how can I adjust volume by connecting ipod via ifire to the speakers?
Derek Brumley · July 27, 2004 - 16:17 EST #2
Connect the Apple Pro speakers to the iFire, using their own cable. Connect one end of the Griffin-supplied cable to the iFire (both FireWire and audio connectors). At the other end of the cable, plug the FireWire connector into the iPod power supply -- this supplies juice to the iFire -- and plug the audio connector into the headphone jack of the iPod. You then control the speaker volume with the iPod's volume control (as though you were using headphones).
Gilles · August 3, 2004 - 15:22 EST #3
The iFire uses the iPod as power supply for amplification. Does anybody know the approximative autonomy of an iPod, previously fully charged, connected to the iFire and ProSpeakers ?
Andrew Kator (ATPM Staff) · August 3, 2004 - 15:34 EST #4
In my experience, the battery life is dependent upon volume. With an iBook battery life averaged at about half when using the iFire at moderate volume. At 90% volume the battery life was about 30%.

I have not done this with an iPod, but I would suspect the drain to be more significant because the iPod battery is not designed to power a 10 watt amplifier.
Bradley · September 8, 2005 - 15:04 EST #5
The iFire will drain your iPod from full to completely drained in about 2 to 1.5 hours. :(
greg Slade · February 7, 2006 - 16:46 EST #6
I'm a little late in finding this product. Do you know where I can get my hands one? Every where seems to be sold out! :-(
Andrew Kator (ATPM Staff) · February 7, 2006 - 16:52 EST #7
iFire is no longer listed as a product on the Griffin website. The review is two years old... and with Apple having dropped FireWire as a standard connection on iPods, Griffin probably did not have enough demand to continue manufacturing the iFire.

You could always check on eBay.
greg Slade · February 7, 2006 - 16:56 EST #8
I've done that but, thanks!
martin Saelan · March 20, 2006 - 14:58 EST #9
As proposed on Griffins FAQ on iFire you can use other speakers than Apples...Has anyone tried that?
ATPM Staff · March 20, 2006 - 17:07 EST #10
Martin - you may need to clarify your question. The iFire was designed to power the Apple Pro speakers on computers that didn't have the special connection that Apple desktops used to have. Other speakers by other manufacturers are irrelevant since they'd plug directly into the analog line-out jack.
Andrew Kator · March 21, 2006 - 12:51 EST #11
Martin, I assume you are talking about this: http://www.griffintechnology.com/support/ifire/IFIRE-008.php

The "Griffin Pro Speaker Breakout Cable" required to use the iFire with other speakers is discontinued.
Martin Saelan · March 21, 2006 - 16:14 EST #12
I am sorry, I was not clear enough - I was just currius if anybody has tried to plug in other speakers (bigger, better, louder, smaller or homemade?) with help from the breakout Cable or by modyfiing the small output jack on the iFire to support a standard jack.
Andrew Kenyon · March 28, 2006 - 15:42 EST #13
Martin, I think you will find that defeats the whole point! Obviously you can use any speakers with a standard 3.5mm jack, the aim is to be able to use the Apple Pro Speakers
Peter Brendel · April 3, 2006 - 03:56 EST #14
There are probably thousands of those speakers out there, that Apple produced, and the number of those that are left over as the Macs go down or are otherwise available will grow.
The iFire sells for huge amounts at eBay even used sometimes at 3x the original new price in Europe, if you'd find a producer in China to produce a kind of iFire that would sell I'm sure it would go. It could even have a regular power adapter, it doesn't have to be powered by Firewire to run. You could even construct a powered USB Hub and include a small Apple Pro Speaker amplifier board. That would sell well I believe.
Does anybody have any ideas on this? Something like 2,4 Volt come in and 6,3 Volt go out - I'd like to know what the iFire really does. Unfortunately I have an iFire and the speakers, but while the red light comes on, the speakers don't produce any sound any longer, and I've tried the speakers in a store, and they do work.
Cynthia McKinney · April 20, 2006 - 19:19 EST #15
I'm one of those who's got those speakers and I love them. Unfortunately, my iFire has malfunctioned and when I bought it that was the last one the store had. So, I guess I'm just going to have to do without those wonderful, compact, great sounding imac speakers that I came to love to use with my great, wonderful, not-so-compact 17" laptop.
John Miller · April 23, 2006 - 17:26 EST #16
Do you know if the iFire will work with a dock connector iPod? I would think that it would, but was wondering if anyone had tried it. I have a 4G iPod monochrome.
ATPM Staff · April 23, 2006 - 21:09 EST #17
John - as best I can tell, the iPod alone will not power the iFire. But if you tap the audio from the iPod headphone jack and power from your firewire-based A/C adapter, you can do it. This write-up and photo diagram should be helpful.
Amasagou Togo · July 19, 2006 - 16:46 EST #18
Hi--My speakers with the ifire started making static noise recently. There is hardly any output at first tha\en it progresses torward pure static. Does anyone know if this problem can be fixed?
michael driskill · September 8, 2006 - 00:12 EST #19
I am looking seriously to purchase one of these ancient gizmos, but lo, they seem to have sunk to the depths of the deepest sea. Any idea who may have one for sale? I really need one!!!!!!
Andrew Kator (ATPM Staff) · September 8, 2006 - 00:17 EST #20
Sorry Michael, but other than eBay I have no idea how to get one. If you come across any other sources, please post them for others...
Peter Frumkin · October 1, 2006 - 12:56 EST #21
Sadly these are extremely hard to find. What few appear on ebay go for insanely high prices. There's one on ebay now, but the "buy it now" price is AU $285.00 (about $212 USD) with a starting bid of AU $235.00 (about $175 USD) and shipping cost of AU $15.00.

I've seen them bid out well over $300 USD!!! (nearly 10x original price...)

With thousands of Apple Pro Speaker owners around, you'd think Griffin could make a nice bit of cash re-releasing the adapters. Even if they raise the price a bit to cover new production, my inexperienced opinion would be that they'd sell out a reasonable production run.

You could try what I did: post a 'pre-order" backorder request at Amazon Marketplace, just in case one appears out of the blue. I did that earlier this year (with a $50 price limit) and just got a reply that my (unlikely) request was fulfilled and has been shipped. Ya never know.

When I receive it and test it I'll post a new note.
SJ · October 25, 2006 - 03:20 EST #22
Hi, I am a big pan of mac and bought the apple pro speakers throu ebay, coz, they are pretty. :-P
However! I found out I need ifire for this speaker, so, I bought ifire through ebay.
Well, now~ it is not working.
Clever me, don't know, which one is not working, either ifire or the speaker.
How is the ifire suppos to work? I got red light on it, but when I see yr photo, it looks green...
can u help me?

cheers
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · October 25, 2006 - 09:15 EST #23
SJ - try opening the Sound options in your System Preferences and see if there's another option instead of Built-in Audio. The FireWire-based sound source may show up in that list and you'd need to switch to it.
SJ · October 26, 2006 - 05:57 EST #24
no, there is no firewire based sound source, what so ever. I am so screwed up...
Barbara Glatz · January 17, 2007 - 21:57 EST #25
Typical of Apple Mac selling a product with apple and then in no time the products eg. itrip, are obsolete and or superseded.I have tried to buy world wide............
Peter Frumkin · January 25, 2007 - 18:23 EST #26
The iFire I received via Amazon works perfectly with my Apple Pro Speakers on a G5 2x2.3GHz tower, OSX10.4.8 -- no tweaks or intervention needed. The jack for the speaker plug is a tad weak, but since it sits stationary on my desk, it's not a problem.

Since the Apple Pro Speakers are far from audiophile quality, the iFire is just fine.
AW · February 28, 2007 - 00:27 EST #27
The Apple Pro Speakers are in many ways similar to the seemingly identical G4 Cube speakers; not only do they look and sound alike, but both speakers relied on proprietary connectors that are no longer being used by Apple. At least the Cube speakers, which connected via a special 10-watt USB port to the G4 Cube or ADC-based displays, can still be used at a lower volume when plugged into a standard USB port. It's just a waste to think of all those Apple Pro Speakers that can no longer be used.
Matt Davis · March 22, 2007 - 07:07 EST #28
I used the iFire plus the Apple Pro speakers a lot for mobile video editing. However... My trusty but rusty PowerBook G4 (three years old) was stolen recently. Oh dear, how sad, hello 17" MacBook Pro, 7x faster, etc. Insurance + backups = happiness.

HOWEVER... The MacBook Pro FW400 port does NOT work with the iFire - just a flashing or pulsing red light instead of a steady glow.

Luckily I have an old FireWire iPod plug (the one with a FW400 hole in it). This does provide enough juice to power the iFire.

So be warned if spending 10x the original price on one for your intel Mac - just because it's got a FW400 port doesn't guarantee it will work.
d_c · March 26, 2007 - 09:33 EST #29
Hi all, I have a pair of these Apple Pro speakers on their own, and I although I may be opening myself up for ridicule here I would love to be able to plug them into a PC - does anybody know if there's a simple adapter in existence that'd let me do this, or would I have to search for this iFire? Would appreciate any info.
Andrew Kator (ATPM Staff) · March 26, 2007 - 10:44 EST #30
To my knowledge, the iFire was the only "plug and play" device for using the Apple Pro Speakers with PCs and iPods, but only those equiped with Firewire.
Peter Frumkin · March 26, 2007 - 11:44 EST #31
Regarding finding an iFire, here's a repeat of my post (early in this thread) on October 2006:

You could try what I did: post a 'pre-order" backorder request at Amazon Marketplace, just in case one appears out of the blue. I did that earlier this year (with a $50 price limit) and got a reply that my (unlikely) request was fulfilled and shipped. I paid $41 USD and it's still working well.

The jacks are less than perfect and occasionally one or both need to be carefully re-seated, but other than that -- using it at work with a Mac G5 tower and Apple Pro Speakers (lovely clear acrylic "globes") -- it pumps nice sound though the speakers (to the best of the speakers limited capabilities).

Here at work I can only use the speakers evenings (end of my late days)-- sometimes -- and I mostly use headphones. The Apple Pro Speakers are fun when the noisy Ad Agency throng is gone and I was very lucky to get my iFire.

As I noted above, if you actually catch an iFire on ebay, it could be bid out close to 10x the iFire's original price.

There's no guarantee you'll get one through Amazon, but it's worth a try to place a request, and keep renewing it when you get e-mail notices of impending expiration of your request. You might get lucky.

By the way: The "ON" indicator LED is RED on mine, not green.
michael driskill · March 26, 2007 - 13:03 EST #32
I found a Griffin Powerwave that has its own ac and doesn't drain the battery like the iFire. I think it depends on where you plan to use your computer. Mine sits on my roll top and the speakers never go with me to another location so the PowerWave is either plugged into the ac or the computer. The PowerWave also allows me to play my guitar directly through the speakers, or through Garage Band on my computer.... much more versatile, hard to find. If I discover a source, I will let you all know. Michael
nigel purkiss · April 27, 2007 - 13:20 EST #33
Be brave and chop the daft connector off the Apple Pro's. Ignore all the nonsense about 'special' internal components/circuitry. With a small kraft knife strip back plastic sleeves very carefully or alternatively hold the solder tip close enough and the sleeve will 'shrink' back. Solder (the very fine and fiddly) wires onto a standard stereo jack et voila - mine are powered from a Harmon Kardon sub from Ebay.
The setup is hanging off the back of my Mac Mini and it sounds just brilliant! Go on, dig out those lovely ol' pro's.
William Corfe · June 14, 2007 - 22:02 EST #34
So Nigel, what do you mean you have it powered off a Pre Amp, how can I acheive this with out a preamp in the chain. So let me get this right, i should do the above and then how do I power the speakers??. Could I go to Radio Shack and get a cheap Amp to power them. I like you idea though it make more sense than most thats for sure
jess · July 3, 2007 - 22:52 EST #35
chop the pos connector off. wire on a regular headphone jack. plug it in. you done.

alternately, go get a set of creative speakers. ditch the pos tower speakers that come with it, cut the cords off and wire them to the apple speakers. then they are amped my the sub, and you have a clear sounding sub as well.
JASON ST PIERRE · October 24, 2007 - 15:58 EST #36
Ok guys I have a iFire in hand, and a pair of those cool speakers too. Now the speakers have a clear/black box in-line would those be Cube speakers? I think so, that in-line amp as I remember didn't work but speakers were ok prior to that.

The iFire I have never hooked up so I guess I gotta look at this all again. but I am open to offers and perhaps record some video will attempt to evaluate both items if there is interest and yes I can take pictures. watching this post and no I don't ebay or paypal find other plans there.
Bianca Esco · November 28, 2007 - 00:09 EST #37
Hello Jason - I am very interested in purchasing the ifire from you. I have the speakers already though.

Would it be possible for you to contact me via email: bianca@tagada.com?

Thank you!
christophe mangenot · January 3, 2008 - 15:11 EST #38
Have somebody a griffin ifire to sell?
I have the apple pro speackers and a macbook.
Thank you.
michael driskill · January 3, 2008 - 21:32 EST #39
Michael - try eBay.

You might want to consider using the PowerWave made by Griffin... It is also on sale on Ebay.... it is a lot more flexible than the iFire and can be used both with apple and pc computers. Here is copy of the ad: This device is Made By Griffin Technology, the makers of iFire.
It is better than their other device because the Griffin PowerWave Amplifier is a powered Plug and Play Amplifier that allows you to connect more than just Apple Pro Speakers and you don't need a computer with a FireWire Port since it uses the faster USB interface!!
You can use it to connect any external speaker set , Guitars, Keyboards, or Microphones to your computer. This is handy for musicians that like to work with the Apple Garage Band Application.
Todd Nadeau · January 12, 2008 - 12:29 EST #40
Many thanks to Matt Davis · March 22, 2007 - 07:07 EST #28 for his tip on using a Firewire wall outlet adapter (used as an accessory charging device on 3G iPods) instead of the FW400 port on my new MacBook Pro.
Matt, you're so right, the FW400 port on the MBP does NOT power the iFire (Anybody have an idea why? FW400 is FW400, right?) but the iPod adapter does. I now have the iFire power coming from the adapter and simply plug the audio jack into the MBP and WHO HOO! I have great sound again. Thanks Matt!
Anne S. · February 27, 2008 - 18:31 EST #41
Just want to thank all of you for answering my question about whether I can use my cute speakers from my IMAC G4 on my new Mac Pro. I too am annoyed (see Barbara Glatz #25) that MAC would make a product so specific to one computer and then stop. Now that's lousy design (and built-in obsolescence.)

However, if I do what Nigel suggests (#33) how do I power them? Or is there enough power from my Mac Pro speaker outlet. (I'm sure someone answered this already, but I didn't quite get it.)
apple lover · March 3, 2008 - 05:48 EST #42
Hi All

What you all are saying is that you just need to cut away the apple mini plug from the Apple Pro Speaker and solder a 3.5mm stereo plug. Will it really work with my iMAC SE?
Bob watson · November 30, 2008 - 15:37 EST #43
Help !

Just bought a mac-mini, and found out that my apple pro speakers don't plug in. I also have the iSub that plugs into a usb port.

I can use a soldering iron, but I wasn't clear on how to do the modification to a standard 3.5 mm plug, and get power to the pro speakers.
michael driskill · December 3, 2008 - 02:00 EST #44
You will find an iFire on Ebay for sale... type in griffin iFire and the present bid price is $45.00. Less than a hundred and it might just be worth the price.
mvallance · February 8, 2009 - 19:56 EST #45
re:HOWEVER... The MacBook Pro FW400 port does NOT work with the iFire - just a flashing or pulsing red light instead of a steady glow.
Luckily I have an old FireWire iPod plug (the one with a FW400 hole in it). This does provide enough juice to power the iFire.
==

THANK YOU .. works for me too :-)
jerry k · May 31, 2009 - 09:32 EST #46
The ifire amp and speakers will work fine also with a Firewire 800 to 400 cable.
fred e · February 18, 2010 - 14:49 EST #47
Does anybody know if the the apple pro speakers and the ifire adapter work as well with a macbook pro 10.6.2?
thanx for a short answer
fred
ATPM Staff · February 18, 2010 - 15:04 EST #48
Fred - the iFire adapter converts the Apple Pro Speakers output into a standard 3.5mm headphone jack signal. Any computer with this standard 3.5mm headphone output jack (including yours) will work. If you actually have an iFire, you're set to go. If you don't already have one, good luck finding one as they are rare and no longer made.
Jason St Pierre · February 18, 2010 - 16:46 EST #49
I still have a working Griffin iFire available for sale. make offer trades possible.
ondine · February 24, 2010 - 08:47 EST #50
hi Jason, #50
i am very interested if they are still available for sale , is it the same ifire you had in 2007?
my email is beanbag67@hotmail.com
Ciara Arnette · February 28, 2010 - 19:36 EST #51
Hey Jason,

I am interested as well ! Let me know....ciara.arnette@g.mail.com

Thanks
Jason St Pierre · March 2, 2010 - 14:22 EST #52
Yup same one its for sale cables inc. may post on ebay. taking offers. s.a.t.e.l.litez at hotmail.com (remove the unnecessary dots.) yes I can produce original pictures or even skype video chat. Even have a gen 1 pod 4gig avail in good shape with new batt and unused spare sealed.
Jason St Pierre · March 3, 2010 - 02:00 EST #53
Ifire pics and ipod too. here to see.
http://picasaweb.google.com/JasonPCtech/EBAY?feat=directlink
ondine · April 21, 2010 - 11:23 EST #54
hey take off the iFire want list.... I ended up buying a groovy lampshade mac G4 to go with the karmon speakers, which are of course fantastic!,it is now my music jukebox, a good use for old macs. a bit of lateral thinking. Sound is great, heaps better than the bose airwave, which is pricey and overrated? he! he! in my opinion, even though I really wanted one in the past.ps I thought 'what is 6+8 ', a mathematics equasion was a good answer.
Raffi Dzaghouni · May 13, 2010 - 11:56 EST #55
hey guys i got 2 of this in perfect condition if your interested let me know and will do something about the price .you can call me also 7813543320 ok i got your answers right here .
Jiashan Jong · June 9, 2010 - 09:01 EST #56
Hey, I've looked for ifire for years. Where can I get one? I'm in Taiwan. Please help. Thanks.
Ian Kinsela · June 17, 2010 - 10:20 EST #57
Hey Raffi do u still have the iFire? if so let me know ok plus what price for it?
sandy Campbell · June 17, 2010 - 22:42 EST #58
Do you have the ifire? I would like to purchase.
Thanks
Macca · October 11, 2010 - 07:04 EST #59
Wanted: working iFire Adapter for project... email maccatakka at gmail dot com
ann · December 12, 2011 - 09:09 EST #60
from jerry k · May 31, 2009 - 09:32 EST #46:
"The ifire amp and speakers will work fine also with a Firewire 800 to 400 cable."

Hey guys has anyone -apart from jerry k- found out that a MBP and the apple pro speakers (together with ifire) work with a Firewire 800 to 400 cable??
Just want to be sure before I buy this kind of Firewire.
Thanks and greetings from Berlin!

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