For our next iPod Bracket Battle, we are featuring the most famous of all the iPod docks&dmash;the Bose SoundDock. But its challenger is no slouch. The Logitech AudioStation is younger, hipper and ready to spill Budweiser all over Bose's Zima-drinking butt. Who wins the competition?
The SoundDock is as minimal as it gets. Volume up. Volume Down. The end. Considering that the SoundDock was around before iPod video, we're thinking that it's time to update the components with richer features that don't need to detract from the unit's simplicity.
You can tell that the AudioStation is a newer product just by looking at it. A sleek display features touch-sensitive controls (I personally consider them a novelty here and on the PS3, but a nice-looking novelty at that.) While a bit heftier than the SoundDock, Logitech's AudioStation gives you two choices of video out and an AM/FM radio with RDS (telling you track names). An alarm would have been nice considering the large clock, but the removable speaker grills are a sweet touch.
I returned to the Blast! Soundtrack for the famous brass fiesta, Malaguena.
For the first time in my iPod tests, my wife walked into the room. "That sounds really good," she said. And she was right. The Soundock played brass with rich vibrance, but managed respectable bass at the same time. When cranking the small unit to higher volumes, it performed with equal fidelity. The Soundock isn't just a bunch of yuppie bullshit—this system is the real deal.
When the low brass comes in for the first time in a chorale-like moment, you feel the colors of the notes. Then you hear the air pulsating through the tubas. And for the first time in any of the docks yet tested, I notice the actual strike of the bass drum with precision.
But the Logitech's high ranges grow less tangible where the Bose delivers with absolute precision. Then again, the Logitech undoubtedly dominates on the low end, making the Bose look like a teenager still waiting for puberty to arrive.
Winner: Bose SoundDock
In interest of full disclosure, having been disappointed with some of my past Bose experiences, I didn't expect this result. But the Bose just sounds better, especially when you head into another room. One caveat, however, is that Bose owes it to their loyal customers (who will buy the brand no matter what I say here) to update their SoundDock with video functionality and figure out how to cram some more bass into the package. Because the AudioStation shows all the consumer concern that's important in a product—and honestly—many top 40 listeners will prefer the AudioStation for its low end umph alone. That said, this match goes to Bose.