96 of 118 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2009
Have the 1st Bose SoundDock for 2 older iPods. When bought new iPhone 3GS, bought the new Bose SoundDock II. Excellent sound! Fills 2300 sqft house fully, plus the yard. Rich clear music. Can get very loud, impressive. Kept my iPhone on it for a couple months, then discovered AirTunes, the Apple way of wirelessly turning every speaker in the house into broadcasting station for iTunes playlists and radio etc. AWESOME !!! Just buy an AirPort Express and connect it to the SoundDock II via Belkin Mini-Stereo Cable and you can stream all your playlists / songs to this great speaker PLUS all your other speakers in every room of your house, all at once, individually, or in selected groups. The roof is about to fly off with the volume of intensely great music raising the rafters here!
Then your iPhone is free to use as a Remote, free Apple app, to control your music on all speakers. Heaven! Have a long kirtan / mantra / bhajan playlist and having it going all throughout the house and yard for hours (actually days) non-stop is an amazing boon.
The Bose SoundDock II is expensive but we are very glad we bought it. It is getting a workout now along with all our other systems / speakers, all at once. Plus, we can take the Bose out on the deck, or to the office.
38 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
Let me start off by saying I'm not a fan of Bose, and this isn't mine. I picked this out for my brother, as he needed something for college. We payed $225 for it. Anyways, I find Bose overpriced and underperforming. Their Wave systems, and pretty much everything else they offer is overpriced. Their headphones and SoundDock are fine. But this is about the SoundDock, not their other products. I listened to Green Day's ¡Uno!, ¡Tre!, John Denver's Wildlife Concert, Harbor Life Concert, and some others. They were played from an iPhone 4, and they are .aiff (full CD quality) not .mp3! Bose puts in a little paper saying how they strive to get natural sound, and all that jargon. I'm an audiophile (I guess) and I have a real Stereo. A modded Hafler DH-200, modded DH-101, and Boston Acoustics Micro90x for the front. This thing can't stand a chance, but I wasn't expecting it to.
This product really overdoes it with the mids. In fact it sounds rather tinny due to this. The highs are somewhat there, and it can reproduce some of the higher low frequencies, but drops off at around 80Hz. But like I said, the mids are too strong. It doesn't sound natural to my ears. My reference iPod dock is Apple's own iPod HiFi (made from 2006-2007) ($349 USD) The iPod HiFi also doesn't have much ground to stand on compared to my reference setup, it has more ground than the SoundDock. Thats the review regarding the sound. Now it's time to talk about the specs that I found by taking it apart. Bose doesn't talk specs (for a good reason), as they say its the sound that matters, and specs aren't important if it sounds good. True, very true. But the problem is that it doesn't sound so good, and me being a person who builds amps, restores vintage amps, repairs amps, and always tinkers, I couldn't leave this alone. Bose tends to use an EQ and lots of digital processing (DSP). Take their flagship speakers, the 901. They have 9 4.5" woofers in them. They are fine with the mid range, but to large to reproduce the high frequencies, yet to small for the low frequencies. So they give you an EQ to compensate. This colors and modifies the sound as it isn't capable of producting it correctly. To a novice, it is fine, but they are compensating for the poor design. They cut the mids, increase the highs and lows, and attempt to balance it out.
Same with the little 2.25" woofers. They can go low, and can't go high, so the DSP board (bottom) compensates for it by cutting the treble, and boosting the low and high frequencies. If you connect these woofers to a regular amp, they sound even worse as they don't have a DSP to color the sound anymore. So much for naturalness...
Moving on, the heart of the SoundDock is a TDA8922BTH. This little Class D amplifier IC is a SMD component. The spec sheet claims it is a 2x50W Stereo amp IC (50W per channel) The SoundDock's power brick spits out a +18V and a -18V, and provides 1 amp of current. This isn't enough to get the full output of the IC. The service manual says this thing consumes 36 Watts Maximum. So at full distorting volume it only is taking 36W from your wall socket. Add the iPod charging, other components (DSP board gets pretty toasty), the fact that the IC isn't 100% efficient, and you get less than 18W per channel at full. I'm guessing 8-10W per channel. I don't have an oscilloscope to check the wattage (service manual doesn't say), so we at least know it is well under 18WPC. The amplifier IC drives two 2.25" woofers that Bose calls Full Range Twiddler speakers. These tiny speakers aren't the highest quality. It the cone is made of paper, and it has a paper ridged surround. Not exciting or anything. You can find similar drivers with these specs for about $10 each. That said, these ones appear to be made BY Bose themselves, and not a 3rd party. Paper made speakers aren't a bad thing. They can sound pretty good, and are commonly found in high quality, but vintage speakers (1960-1980s) but in this day in age when technology and speaker material has improved, it is a sign of cheapness and lack of caring about quality. Great way to maximize profit margins though.
Circuit boards... Inside the unit, the pcbs are made of quality fiberglass, and are double sided through hole plated. Yay for quality here. It gets better, because many modern electronics (especially TVs and computers) use cheap crummy no name electrolytic capacitors. These caps last for several years before bulging and/or leaking. As you guessed, the equipment doesn't work after that. Quality brands such as Nichicon, Rubycon, Elna, Nippon Chemi Con (aka United Chemi Con), and even Jamicon.. They are used in quality electronics and are high quality Japanese caps that almost never fail. Nichicon and UCC/NCC did have some bad batches around 2003, but that has been resolved. Well Bose decided to use Nichicon, so in terms of reliability, GOOD choice!! The plastics are ultrasonically welded PC/ABS plastics, and that is a decent material, but MDF or a solid die-cast aluminum would be ideal for a speaker cabinet. In terms of build quality, and part quality, they did good here. Yes they could have used higher quality drivers, but they aren't bad, and they are in a properly tuned enclosure.
Lastly I'm going to discuss performance and value. While this thing probably has no more than $40 worth or parts inside, the other iPod speaker docks aren't any more expensive in terms of components. $250 (MSRP) might seem like a lot, and it is. With that said, look at Apple's online store. They have a lot of goofy small little speakers, and Bluetooth seems all the rage these days. The BT speakers I've heard sound like trash. Partially do to the actual product, but also due to the fact that they use the bluetooth protocol. Bluetooth compresses the file, and isn't good for audio (well music) Some of these tiny speakers are a whooping $300. And that is absurd. You then look at what is in the $200-$250 dollar range, and after hearing them all, you realize the SoundDock is the best of the bunch. Altec Lansing used to have some SoundDock killers. The Altec Lansing M602 and the T612 (the T612 was the iPhone GSM shielded version of the M602) were $199, and sounded a bit better than the SoundDock (Still can't beat the iPod HiFi or come close to a real stereo)
Now even though I'm not a huge fan of the SoundDock's sound, turning on Bass Booster rolls back some of the midrange to a more natural level... not perfect, but better. For $250 you get a decent sounding iPod/iPhone dock, the convenience on an all in one system, and yes, you are paying for the name. But compared to the other options out there, they are all priced high, so when you add the SoundDock to the mix, it isn't overpriced. The super expensive choices like the SoundDock 10, Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin series, and the other options, they are a poor choice. Keep in mind, most folks have MP3 files on their iPod or the ACC files from the iTunes Store. Even if these things sound great, the format is compressed by nature and bit rate so low, they will be the bottleneck. And once you lift that, the DAC in your iPod or iPhone isn't the world's best either. If the best sound is your goal, an iPod dock (even the absurdly expensive ones) aren't the answer. Build a stereo from quality components. As for the SoundDock, my rating is the following
Sound: 2.5 out of 5
Build Quality: 3.7 out of 5
Component Quality: 5 out of 5
Cosmetics: 4 out of 5 (finger print magnet)
Value & Performance: 4.6 out of 5 (Decent iPod docks are getting rarer)
3.9 stars average. If you have any questions, comment and ask.