The market for iPod docks in India is growing, and it’s a market where, aside from electronics manufacturers such as Philips, you can also see high-end entries from brands such as Bang & Olufsen and, more recently, Loewe, for whom style is as important as technology.
The Loewe SoundBox is a reasonably priced product for this segment of the market, and the dock is striking. The design is a simple rectangle, measuring 46.5x19.2x15.6cm, and at 5kg, you don’t want to keep moving it around the house. The sides are covered completely in fabric, and the top surface is a removable metal inlay.
You can pick from five different colours of fabric and personalize the inlays, so it’s easy to customize the look of the SoundBox, from minimal grey tones, to striking pop colours that wouldn’t look out of place in an Andy Warhol painting.
That’s all well and good, but it also has to sound good. Loewe hasn’t detailed the exact hardware powering the SoundBox, aside from the fact that there are two 4-inch “full-range” speakers powered by twin digital stereo amplifiers. Admittedly, with audio products, the technical specifications don’t really mean much, and the best way to test the speakers is to listen to them.
The Loewe SoundBox is fairly loud—it will fill up the space with clear sound, and while it’s not the loudest dock you will get for its price, if you’re using it to listen to music while in the same room, you’re not going to find it lacking.
The sound is a little bass-heavy though. This is a problem because the details in the bass get lost, possibly because it’s not using a 2.1 speaker set-up (without a separate subwoofer), which is more standard at this price point. It still sounds good enough for radio playback and for the kind of quality you’ll get out of most MP3 tracks, but a serious audiophile will probably find the performance unsatisfying.
In terms of connectivity options, just about the only thing missing is wireless streaming—the SoundBox is a versatile dock, and aside from a 30-pin connector which you can connect to your iPod or iPhone, there’s also a USB input, which you can connect an Android phone, MP3 player or USB flash drive to. Aside from that, it also has a radio receiver to listen to FM, and a CD player.
And if you still find something that can’t play directly on the dock, there’s a standard 3.5mm auxiliary input you can connect any playback device to. While most of these features are fairly standard, having a built-in CD player in a dock is increasingly rare, and can really help to reduce clutter around the house.
The auxiliary input, and power cable, are placed on the back of the SoundBox, along with a switch to turn the clock on and off. The LCD display looks like a pretty retro clock, and the dock won’t look out of place in the bedroom. It also has an alarm, which can be used to play the radio, or tracks from your iPod in the morning.
The SoundBox comes with a remote control which lets you control playback as well, but it’s the size of a TV remote, and really inconvenient, unless you already own other Loewe products, such as their television sets—the same remote can then be used to control other devices too.
Overall, the Loewe SoundBox is a pleasing, reasonably priced luxury product. The asking price, of Rs.49,000, might make some people think twice though. In terms of pure audio, the dock falls a little behind its closest competition (by price), the Bose SoundDock 10 (Rs.44,888). For many though, the cheerful aesthetic of the SoundBox will make it worth the money, particularly given the high degree of customizability of its looks.