Bose Sounddock Portable and Apple iPad make a great team

 This is the cat’s ass speaker system for either iPad, iPhone or iTouch. The sound is very good and it’s portable.

Bose Sounddock Portable available from for $399 US, Best Buy (Canada) for $399, and Future Shop for $449.

Since Future Shop is owned by Best Buy, you can probably hold them to the Best Buy price. (Prices are as of this date. Bose controls retail pricing.)

You know I’ve growling about the sad state of music on the iPad. Friday night I had an eureka and connected it to our Bose Sounddock Portable.  The iPad doesn’t dock like the iPhone / iTouch but it connects easily with a male-to-male, stereo, mini pin plug. That was my $5.95 eureka at 5 AM yesterday. Thanks Mr. Skunk for the improved iPad sound. You can also add a Bluetooth adapter to the Bose or most sound systems.
Since Saturday, I’ve been dragging the Bose / iPad around the house with “Hey listen to this! This is awesome!” At lunch I was like taking requests with the iPad and Bose on the kitchen table “What do you like? I’ve got Pat Benatar, Jack Johnson, Miles Davis, and the Jonas Brothers. Want to listen to Give up the Funk?”  
Admittedly the sound is a bit constricted simply by the size of the Bose Sounddock and its speakers. Bose do weird and wonderful things with music shaping and compression that can coax a big sound from a small box. That being said, the Bose Sounddock Portable is not as realistic as putting the iPad through a home theatre receiver system but it the best portable solution.
Listening to the iPad on a home theatre system seemed disappointing since the iTunes compression can’t touch real high-fidelity. However, home theatre setups are not portable. The Bose Sounddock is portable. It’s been running on the battery for more than 4 hours while reviewing music and writing this story.

Music sampled
I’m grooving to John Fogarty on Green River (video) at pretty high volume. The bass is strong. The snare has snap and I can hear the ride cymbal. His voice is perfect and the lead guitar is cutting through.
Blondie’s Heart of Glass (video) was re-mixed for the iTunes store. The beats are heavy with a cool scratch effect. Blondie is sexy and as quirkily compelling as ever.
ZZ Top’s Gimme All Your Loving (video) starts with realistic hot rod revving and then the crunchy Billy Gibbons guitar, bass and drums. Since the speaker is about two feet from my head, I might suffer some hearing loss at high volume but it gets inside my head better that way.
The Parliament Funkadelic Give Up The Funk (video) is a fun song that never sounded better. I’m grooving in my office chair trying to type this. That’s one of the cool things about iTunes: you can buy one song or video from the past without getting the whole album.
The Bose Sounddock works by shaping the sound and compression. On Daniel Lanois’s Sometimes, his voice sounds slightly boxy. It’s acceptable but I know how well he recorded it and there is a difference.
Jonas Brothers’ SOS was mixed for iTunes. It sounds perfect, lots of compressed punch and AutoTuned vocals. It is definitely better than most people hear this song on the car stereo or ear buds.
John Coltrane’s Giant Steps is realistic with front and centre sax. This recording is an amazingly 50 years old and sounds like I’m in the jazz club slightly off centre at the back.
Charlie Mingus’ Better Git In In Your Soul is less impressive. While Mingus bass is strong for a few bars, it gets lost in the trumpet solos (which must be right on the mic) and sax. I have this on an Impulse LP and it sounds more balanced. That said, it is pretty cool to be listening to Mingus on the iPad and portable speakers.
Bob Dylan’s video Things Have Changed is good but not as good as on 5.1 surround system. The dynamics of the strummed Gibson acoustic guitar and Dylan’s raspy voice are clearly present.
On Miles Davis’ So What (video) there is some clipping distortion on the trumpet solos mid-way through the song. I ran the song through the home theatre system and the same clipping was there. The iPad was accurately playing back the black and white television performance of Miles Davis famous song.
The iPad / Bose combination works well on female voice like Nora Jone’s smokey Don’t Know Why and Diana Krall’s Let’s Face the Music and Dance. Krall’s piano is mic’d very close and sounds forward.
Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way sounded slightly brittle which could be toned down with the iPad EQ settings.
I haven’t heard a song in three hours I didn’t like. Finally, the iPad can pass for a very good music player. If only Apple would shuffle play the videos and not force you to pick each one.

Click HERE to read more columns by Stephan Pate

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