Pick almost any genre of product - MP3 players, camcorders, laptops or phones - and there are usually two types of products: high-end models that ooze class and have a price to match, and cheaper versions that have something slightly awkward about them over and above their dependence on lower-quality materials. And in the iPod system market, where weak £50 efforts sit alongside £1500+ systems, that division is at its clearest.
Not so the BoomDock, which saunters into the market with a decent spec and an astonishingly low price. And, Okay, this clumsily named black box isn’t ever going to challenge hand-crafted speakers, but it almost perfectly meets the demands of those who just want a big sound from an iPod - and for as little cash as possible.
A simple docking station for a plethora of Apple portables, from second-gen iPods right through to the iPhone 4 (excluding the shuffle), and all via its top-mounted connector bay, the BoomDock’s big and bulky design proves its ace card.
It encases a plenty powerful amplifier and a 5.25-inch subwoofer that could even be considered overkill for a one-trick MP3 system, but the BoomDock isn’t just for iPods; some analogue stereo “aux” inputs that can take a plethora of audio gear are welcome, though we’re not sure if its built-in AM/FM radio tuner is much cop these days. It’s DAB or bust for us these days, though it could be useful in an emergency.
The BoomDock, as the name suggests, is all about volume. So much so that it performs at its best when it’s loud, when the lack of clarity of the mid-range frequencies is masked. Use it quietly and the effect is a softer, muffled sound, with the basslines lying too heavily. To say the BoomDock doesn’t perform well with acoustic or classical music depends on how loud you like your Dvorak or your Dylan, but it’s certainly at its best with simple and brash tunes.
What we did like - and something that’s fairly unusual on iPod docks, especially at this price - is the ability to change the levels for treble and bass direct from the remote, which does add another dollop of versatility.
It may go a bit wild, but the BoomDock is easy to tame using the oversized remote control. Despite the simplicity of its layout we did have a few issues learning how to control an iPhone’s internal menus, but once mastered it is possible to select playlists and issue commands that are quickly acted upon.
The overall design is similarly basic but effective, with a red-lit LED display the flourish on a front fascia that also houses a volume knob and other controls - so there’s no panic if the remote control gets lost.
Perfect for a bring-your-own playlists house party, the KitSound BoomDock - which charges ‘pods and iPhones as it plays - does just enough to impress. Cheap, easy to control, and able to take a feed from a record player, CD deck or even a DVD player, set-top box or TV, it is the marriage of distortion-free high volumes and a low price that that give it most of its charm.