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Superb sound, unplugged

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The new Bose SoundTouch 30 AirPlay speaker offers top-quality soundbut at a steep price. If you're looking for a simple AirPlay dock, here are other options

The new SoundTouch range of Wi-Fi systems from Bose has entered the market recently, starting from the SoundTouch Portable and the SoundTouch 20, which are both available for 32,512, to the SoundTouch 30, starting at 52,763.

The SoundTouch 30 is an AirPlay-enabled dock for your iPad or iPhone—AirPlay is Apple’s proprietary technology that lets you beam photos, video and audio content over Wi-Fi. The SoundTouch can also be paired with a computer or other devices using a free SoundTouch App.

The one-piece dock is fairly big—it’s 9.7 inches tall, 17.1 inches wide and 7.1 inches deep, and weighs 8.39kg. There are 10 buttons tightly clustered on top—power, AUX (which connects using a standard 3.5mm jack), volume up and down, and six audio presets. A vertical panel on the front face is a discreet LCD display that lets you see the source, preset, Wi-Fi and volume levels.

While the weight and size mean that the speaker is not particularly portable, the output is both loud and clear. AirPlay is simple to set up and the speakers are able to handle different types of music without distorting the sound. Since you can change and personalize the presets, this offers flexibility in getting the sound you love.

The problem with these speakers is twofold. One, the Wi-Fi support outside of AirPlay is limited to a Bose app installed on your computer that lets you stream music from your library. That’s limited, and you can’t use a lot of streaming services with these speakers yet.

The other problem is that setting up the speakers is a painful process that takes both time and multiple downloads to complete—even connecting to the Wi-Fi requires you to plug the speakers into your PC using a USB cable, which is probably not where you’re going to use them eventually, so you end up lugging around a huge and heavy speaker just to set up.

You’re definitely getting top-quality sound here—at a steep price—but the added functionality doesn’t seem to be a compelling point yet. If you’re looking for a simple AirPlay dock, there are other options available too. Here are some of them:

Parrot PF551230 Solo Zikmu Tower Speaker by Starck

59,990

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While the Solo looks amazing, the SoundTouch 30 does a better job in terms of audio. However, the Solo is more versatile in terms of inputs and ease of use. Which one you opt for will depend on your priorities.

Pioneer XW SMA4-K

23,250

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The result is some very loud and clear sound. Aside from AirPlay, the speakers also include the HTC Connect feature and digital living network alliance (DLNA) connectivity, which is supported by a lot of devices out of the box, can also be accessed using apps on Android, in case your handset isn’t supported.

Apart from all this, Pioneer’s focus with this speaker was on bass, and there’s a lot of it. The speaker looks too small for the amount of bass it outputs, and that’s because it is too small. The bass is loose, and muddies the overall sound instead of coming as a clean tone. There’s plenty of power, and the upper registers are well-balanced, so the sound in general will be great. But if you listen to this system and the Bose one after the other, the reason for the price difference becomes apparent.

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JBL SoundFly

12,990

The SoundFly is a small and simple AirPlay speaker, smaller and quieter than the SoundTouch 30. It’s also five times cheaper and much more portable. You can slip it into your bag and just plug it directly into the wall wherever you are, connecting the speaker to your iPhone or iPad using a free app. The speaker outputs 20 watts of sound, which is perfect in case you want to carry something along when travelling, but it certainly isn’t going to be a replacement for your main audio system. The simplicity, ease of use and relatively low price tag make this a good choice.

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