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Old 28th December 2012, 05:07 AM   #1
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Default Bose SoundDock II Review

Hi guys. If anyone is considering a Bose SoundDock, or something, I made a review, and I thought I would share it here. I want to know what you guys think of this.

Let me start off by saying I'm not a fan of Bose, and this isn't mine. I picked this out for my brother, as he needed something for college. We payed $225 for it. Anyways, I find Bose overpriced and underperforming. Their Wave systems, and pretty much everything else they offer is overpriced. Their headphones and SoundDock are fine. But this is about the SoundDock, not their other products. I listened to Green Day's ˇUno!, ˇTré!, John Denver's WildLife Concert, Harbor Life Concert, and some others. They were played from an iPhone 4, and they are .aiff (full CD quality) not .mp3! Bose puts in a little paper saying how they strive to get natural sound, and all that jargon. I'm an audiophile (I guess) and I have a real Stereo. A modded Hafler DH-200, modded DH-101, and Boston Acoustics Micro90x for the front. This thing can't stand a chance, but I wasn't expecting it to.

This product really overdoes it with the mids. In fact it sounds rather tinny due to this. The highs are there, and it has some of the low frequencies, but drops off at around 80Hz. But like I said, the mids are too strong. It doesn't sound natural to my ears. My reference iPod dock is Apple's own iPod HiFi (made from 2006-2007) ($349 USD) The iPod HiFi also doesn't have much ground to stand on compared to my reference setup, it has more ground than the SoundDock. Thats the review regarding the sound. Now it's time to talk about the specs that I found by taking it apart. Bose doesn't talk specs, as they say its the sound that matters, and specs aren't important if it sounds good. True, very true. But the problem is that it doesn't sound so good, and me being a person who builds amps, restores vintage amps, repairs amps, and always tinkers, I couldn't leave this alone.

The heart of the SoundDock is a TDA8922BTH. This little amplifier IC is a SMD component. The spec sheet claims it is a 2x50W Stereo amp IC (50W per channel) The SoundDock's power brick spits out a ±18V. This isn't enough to get the full output of the IC. The IC's data sheet says "Operating supply voltage from ±12.5 V to ±30 V, and you would need the full ±30V to get 50WPC into 6Ω The service manual says this thing consumes 36 Watts Maximum". So with So at full distorting volume it only is taking 36W from your wall socket. Add the iPod charging, other components, the fact that the IC isn't 100% efficient, and you get less than 18W per channel at full. I'm guessing 8-10W per channel. I don't have an oscilloscope to check the wattage (service manual doesn't say), so we at least know i is well under 18WPC. The amplifier IC drives two 2.25" woofers that Bose calls Full Range Twiddler speakers. These tiny speakers aren't the highest quality. The speaker's diaphragm is made of paper, and it has a paper ridged surround. Bose used to call this "Space Aged Paper" Not exciting or anything. You can find similar drivers with these specs for about $10 each. That said, these ones appear to be made BY Bose themselves, and not a 3rd party. Paper made speakers aren't a bad thing. They can sound pretty good, and are commonly found in high quality, but vintage speakers (1960-1980s) but in this day in age when technology and speaker material has improved, and other materials allow for more accurate reproduction of sound, it is a sign of cheapness.

Circuit boards... Inside the unit, the pcbs are made of quality fiberglass, and are double sided through hole plated. Yay for quality here. It gets better, because many modern electronics (especially TVs and computers) use cheap crummy no name electrolytic capacitors. These caps last for several years before bulging and/or leaking. As you guessed, the equipment doesn't work after that. Quality brands such as Nichicon, Rubycon, Elna, Nippon Chemi Con (aka United Chemi Con), and even Jamicon.. They are used in quality electronics and are high quality Japanese caps that almost never fail. Nichicon and UCC/NCC did have some bad batches around 2003, but that has been resolved. Well Bose decided to use Nichicon, so in terms of reliability, GOOD choice!! The plastics are ultrasonically welded PC/ABS plastics, and that is a decent material. In terms of build quality, and part quality, they did good here. Yes they could have used higher quality drivers, but they aren't bad, and they are in a properly tuned enclosure.

Lastly I'm going to discuss performance and value. While this thing probably has no more than $40 worth or parts inside, the other iPod speaker docks aren't any more expensive in terms of components. $250 (MSRP) might seem like a lot, and it is. With that said, look at Apple's online store. They have a lot of goofy small little speakers, and Bluetooth seems all the rage. The bluetooth speakers I've heard sound like trash. Partially do to the actual product, but also due to the fact that they use bluetooth. Bluetooth compresses the file, and isn't good for audio (well music) Some of these tiny speakers are $300. And that is absurd. You then look at what is in the $200-$250 dollar range, and after hearing them all, you realize the SoundDock is the best of the bunch. Altec Lansing used to have some SoundDock killers. The Altec Lansing M602 and the T612 (the T612 was the iPhone GSM shielded version of the M602) were $199, and sounded a bit better than the SoundDock (Still can't beat the iPod HiFi or come close to a real stereo)

Now even though I'm not a huge fan of the SoundDock's sound, turning on Bass Booster rolls back some of the midrange to a more natural level... not perfect, but better. For $250 you get a decent sounding iPod/iPhone dock, the convenience on an all in one system, and yes, you are paying for the name. But compared to the other options out there, they are all priced high, so when you add the SoundDock to the mix, it isn't overpriced. The super expensive choices like the SoundDock 10, Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin series, and the other options, they are a poor choice. Keep in mind, most folks have MP3 files on their iPod or the ACC files from the iTunes Store. Even if these things sound great, the format and bit rate are so low, they will be the bottleneck. And once you lift that, the DAC in your iPod or iPhone isn't the world's best either. If the best sound is your goal, an iPod dock (even the absurdly expensive ones) aren't the answer. Build a stereo from quality components. As for the SoundDock, my rating is the following

Sound: 3 out of 5
Build Quality: 4 out of 5
Component Quality: 5 out of 5
Cosmetics: 4 out of 5 (finger print magnet)
Value & Performance: 5 out of 5 (Decent iPod docks are getting rarer)

4.2 stars average

FYI: A great reading on Bose


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Old 30th December 2012, 05:46 PM   #2
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Any opinions on this?
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Old 30th December 2012, 08:37 PM   #3
sreten is online now sreten  United Kingdom
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Hi,

A friend of mine has a Bose SoundDock he kept going on about as being good.

Due to my utter disinterest (and me banging on about real hifi)
he "challenged" me to build him a system for the same price.

Unsurprisingly the "System" utterly slaughters the SoundDock :
(And my friend agrees, its chalk and cheese, he now has a hifi.)

Used Rega Brio amplifier, the first dinky small one.
New Cambridge Audio IQ10 dock.
New Wharfedale CR30.4 speakers.
Decent (but cheap) cables.

Yet to be tried by him is a old NOS Sony portable CD player as a source.
(As a CD player its quite good, as a portable its awful, it skips, a lot.)

rgds, sreten.
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Last edited by sreten; 30th December 2012 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 30th December 2012, 10:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ouimetnick View Post
Any opinions on this?
It looks like the speaker is passed its "used by date": 27/10/2012 09:09
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Old 30th December 2012, 10:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Erskine View Post
It looks like the speaker is passed its "used by date": 27/10/2012 09:09
that was it's assembly date
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Old 30th December 2012, 11:05 PM   #6
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What is the DIY part of this?
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Old 31st December 2012, 12:22 AM   #7
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Nothing really is diy about this. I just thought I would share it as you might find it interesting...
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