Different people want different things from an iPod dock. Some want a delicately balanced soundstage that can recreate the harp string plucks from The Blue Danube as if you were sitting amongst the orchestra. Others want volume and bass that can smash down walls and replicate a club sound in the back bedroom of a 1930s semi. Guess which the Beats by Dr Dre Beatbox does?
Although it looks portable with its integrated carry handle, it does need to be plugged into the mains to work. That’s slight disappointment, as its aggressive, powerful sound is ideal for big outdoor gatherings. Still, you can always trail an extension cable into the garden for barbecues.
Loud as you like
So the headline feature here is volume. It goes phenomenally loud for something this size, and with everything set to max, you might wonder where all that bass is coming from. We’re still not sure how it does it without any bass ports or downward firing sub, but somehow the Beatbox thumps out more beef than anything else of this stature we’ve heard.
All fine then? Not quite, because the Beatbox takes terrible liberties with the top end, pulling out certain frequencies seemingly at random and thrusting them sharply into your earholes, leaving others lost and forgotten in the haze. This effect varies from track to track and is more prominent with compressed files. Music that’s been produced with clinical precision generally fares well, but busier tunes are subjected to more mangling in the upper mid-range and treble.
In a party situation this isn’t going to be much of an issue, although it will tire your guests ears more quickly than it should. But maybe this is a price you’re willing to pay. After all, there’s little point in playing techno or hip hop through a speaker that can’t pump out a solid bassline and kick drum.
On the outside there’s not much to see: an iPod dock on top with a range of iThing adaptors, a volume knob and a 3.5mm line-in round the back for other players. A disappointingly cheap remote comes in the box to control whatever is in the dock, but the build of the main unit is solid and feels as if it would survive a few knocks.
Review continues after the break…
Some will love the Beatbox for its power and unrelenting desire and ability to hammer out immense beats. Others will be shocked by its treatment of the upper end of the spectrum and discount it out of hand. Some might even lament its lack of features for the price, but if you like it loud, this will do you proud.