Bose SoundDock Series III
Lightning connector; great sound; still looks good
Wouldn’t accommodate our iPhone cases; no wireless
That first model was distinguished by its very good audio quality and pleasing design, a tradition that is carried on by Bose’s latest offering – the Series III with Lightning connector. That connector seems to be the only thing updated from the Series II, but Bose never provides detailed specs, so we can’t be sure.
For those of you unfamiliar with the SoundDock, it’s a smallish unit, measuring 30cm wide and 17cm high, made of black plastic fronted by a silver metal grille and the dock. There are no on-board controls, just a small eight-button remote.
The Lightning dock rotates forward to accommodate iPhone and iPad cases, but unfortunately it doesn’t take the extra thickness at the bottom of the case into account – meaning the male Lightning connector may not sit all the way into your iOS device’s port.
For example, we use a Cygnett AeroGrip Feel case on our iPhone 5, because it’s one of the slimmest on the market, but even its 1.3mm thickness was enough to stop the connection being made.
This, we have to say, could a bit of a deal-breaker as we haven’t found a slimmer case and we’re not prepared to prise the case off every time we want to listen to music.
Which brings us on to the listening experience. True to form, the Series III lives up to the legacy of its predecessors when it comes to the quality of its audio.
The sound is big and rich, with Bose’s characteristic warmth. There’s a little loss of clarity at the top and bottom ends, but overall it’s just plain pleasing and should suit the vast majority of listeners.
But ask yourself: do you really want a dock?
Over the past year or so, there’s been a steady movement away from speaker docks in favour of wireless audio systems using either Bluetooth or AirPlay – a movement that gained momentum when Apple dumped the 30-pin dock connector and was slow in licensing the new Lightning one.
Using the SoundDock, we suddenly remembered what a pain it is having the source device plugged into a speaker across the room and having to rely on a simple remote control.
In addition, while we could use the Series III with our new Lightning devices, it left our older, 30-pin-connecter iPhones, iPads and iPods out in the cold – or attached via an Audio In jack at the back of the unit. This isn’t a problem with wireless devices.
Bose does have a Bluetooth option available in the form of the SoundDock 10, but this sports an old 30-pin dock and costs $799.
There’s also a dockless SoundLink Air on offer at $479.
While the Bose SoundDock Series III delivers excellent audio, as always, its lack of wireless connectivity make it a bit one-dimensional against much of the competition.