Written by Staff Contributor: Emily Butcher
As the days lengthen and the weather turns balmy, it’s time to take the party outdoors. Clunky boom boxes are a distant memory of the past, as the era of stylish sound docks has arrived and we like what we’re seeing – and hearing.
Booming subwoofers, compact size housing superior sound quality and wireless capabilities make the most of these portable ambiance enhancers. Exec Digital has narrowed the list to the best on the market so take it outside, pop some bottles and get those booties shakin’!
1) (Best Luxury) Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12 - $799.00
Taking the shape of a picnic basket, this highly portable sound dock is just begging for a beach or roof top soiree setting to show listeners what it’s made of.
The device’s compact size belies a best-in-class digital amplifier system with two 2-inch tweeters and a 4-inch subwoofer. Bang & Olufsen’s impeccable style and attention to detail is incorporated through a leather carrying strap with signature branded buttons and a solid aluminum speaker grille allowing just a touch of color from the speaker fabric – available in black, gray, blue and yellow – to peek through.
Apple Airplay technology wirelessly streams music from your mobile device or PC and a non-slip rubber finish on the top securely grabs onto phones during transport, where they can be charged while in the dock is in use. With an impressive eight-hour battery life, this sound dock will power the party till the wee hours.
VIDEO: BEOLIT 12
2) (Best Reputable Quality) Bose SoundDock® Portable Digital Music System - $399.95
Always a dependable luxury sound system provider, legendary Bosequality sound goes mobile with this slim portable sound system. Don’t let the sleek, no-frills design fool you. Crisp, luxurious quality sound is transmitted through powerful neodymium speakers and Bose’s waveguide speaker technology.
Compatible with most iPod and iPhone models, the docking station rotates to protect electronic components during travel and a carrying case enhances mobility. Matching our previous pick, Bose’s sound dock can entertain as long as you can with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery powering up to eight hours of music.
3) (Best Bells & Whistles) iHome iA100 Bluetooth/Speakerphone Stereo System with App Enhancements and Bongiovi Acoustics DPS - $199.95 and up
Paving the way for many of the first widely used sound docks (really, who hasn’t owned an iHome at some point in their life?), iHome’s most recent portable sound system features patented audio technology: Reson8 chambers pair with Bongiovi DPS real-time signal processing and onboard EQ. In layman’s terms this translates into an exceptional listening experience.
App-enabled functions expand the device’s capabilities to include a sleep app with a built-in alarm clock and sleep stats, social notifications, and updates on local weather conditions. Downloading the iHome+Radio app lets the user stream thousands of Internet radio stations from around the globe. The highly rated usability and extra frills go a long way towards making the iHome iA100 Bluetooth/Speakerphone Stereo System a solid economical choice.
4) (Best Bass) Sony RDP-X500iP Personal Audio Docking System - $299.99
When an event calls for some sound with a little more oomph, check out the Sony RDP-X500IP Personal Audio Docking System. Unlike other portable sound systems which can sound tinny and spew puny bass beats, this Sony dock has hitting bass without distortion, just solid rocking sound quality.
Sony directs listeners’ focus to the unbeatable sound quality while design is kept simple – black speaker grilles molded into a flattened trapezoid are flanked by tasteful brushed stainless steel accents. Patented Mega Bass boosts bass with the touch of a button, supplying “surprisingly deep low-end,” prompting industry critics to give the dock a thumbs-up for thumping party beats.
5) (Best Original Design) Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air - $599.95
Sure to turn heads, the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air is as much a centerpiece and conversation starter as it is a sound dock. But its unique design – as its name implies, an oblong zeppelin measuring a sturdy 25 inches in length – also gives it a leg up on the competition by offering a truly 3-D listening experience, a trait often overlooked with typical one-sided panel docks.
With one reviewer deeming its design reminiscent of a “prehistoric egg covered in black speaker grille cloth,” the Zeppelin Air’s futuristic looks blend nicely with modern and minimalist surroundings. The sound dock doesn’t disappoint in the sound department either, with AirPlay wirelessly streaming tunes. Hardware includes two tweeters, two mid-range drivers and an internal subwoofer, meaning low to high range notes are given equal sound quality so it’s not just a pretty face, err, egg.
VIDEO: ZEPPLIN AIR
6) (Runner Up) Altec Lansing iMT630 Classic ($149.95)
Bumping bass is not its forte, but this easy-to-pack mini sound player still delivers surprising power for its size. As the most affordable product on our list, the Altec Lansing iMT630 Classic offers customers easy usability through features like a built-in kickstand cleverly hiding a compartment to stow away a magnetic remote control.
Photo credit: Attribute credit to “Bowers & Wilkin” for their image!