Although the audio capabilities of modern tablets have come a long way, offering more than adequate sound for a round of your favorite game or a quick video chat with a friend, they are still a little weak when it comes to music. Sure, there are tablets with front facing stereo speakers, like the Nexus 9 – equipped with HTC’s BoomSound technology – and the Sony Z3 Tablet Compact, but then there are tablets like the iPad, that have speakers situated on the bottom edge of the device, or worse, pointing straight out the back.
Cranking the volume or cupping your hand around your tablet to redirect sound toward your ears is good enough for personal use in most situations, but what if you want to listen to music. Moreover, what if you wanted to listen to music with a friend. Most tablets do not offer the sort of sound quality you might be looking for, they may lack deep bass, have high distortion and noise, etc. In this case, an external speaker is starting to sound like a good idea, and we agree, these tools are generally referred to as speaker docks, and we’ve got a few suggestions for you.
Today, we round up some of the best speaker docks for your iPad.
Note: This list only focuses on speaker docks with Apple’s lightning connector, thus is only compatible with the iPad 4 and later, all iPad Mini models, and all iPad Air models.
Bose has always been one of the big names when it comes to audio devices: headphones, earphones, home theater equipment, and speakers. Bose is always a name you can count on when expecting high quality products, and this speaker dock for the iPad is no exception. After years of research, the third iteration of their SoundDock series brings us their best to date. This may not be as big as speakers used in home theaters, but this sure can fill an entire room with digitally processed audio that enables finer control over the sound for more consistent, lifelike music reproduction even at low levels.
It comes with a remote control so you can handle power, volume, and the like wherever you may be in your room, and auxiliary input that always comes in handy so you can play other audio devices. This may carry with it a big price tag, especially considering that it is only a speaker dock and with no wireless capabilities whatsoever (they have a separate product line for that), but hey, this is Bose we are talking about, at least in our experience, a name that represents quality.
Another big name in the audio world is JBL. Like Bose, we have come to expect quality audio devices from JBL, like this iPad speaker dock. Thanks to its full-range transducers, this small speaker can pack a punch, delivering exceptional sound across an entire room for up to 8 hours using its internal rechargeable battery, and even charges your docked device when plugged to an AC source.
Unfortunately, this product cannot be used with the iPad Air, and can only be used with the iPad mini, and smaller Apple devices with a lightning connector. They did have a larger iteration of this product, but it was discontinued. If that is a problem, this speaker dock still provides you with a USB port and a standard 3.5mm auxiliary connector for compatibility with most modern tablets.
I do not mean to sound like a broken record here, but Sony is yet another big name when it comes to audio devices, like this iPad speaker dock which, as we have come to expect, allows us to experience rich, crisp sound from this powerful 40-Watt stereo speakers system. Now let us break down what makes this product stand out in this list. Starting with the biggest feature that makes this unique is that aside from having an auxiliary port to connect to other devices, is that it has Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to play your tunes without having to dock your iPad (or other Bluetooth devices for that matter). Moreover, pairing your iPad with this speaker dock allows you more expanded speaker functionality using the free Sony App available at iTunes, namely: an enlarged clock display, a music play timer, and a sleep timer. It is clear that with this feature alone, Sony has taken the time to add practical features and giving us more reasons to love their products.
Moving on, at the front of the dock is a battery life display, so you are always updated as to the remaining charge of its battery. Also, its dock connector is a retractable and flexible one, accommodating many cases so you can plug and play, while providing a clean look when no device is docked. Lastly, perhaps my favorite feature, is built-in predefined sound modes (Flat, Vocal, Rock, Pop, Jazz) for optimized listening pleasure, saving you the need to tinker with your music player app.
With all the features mentioned, it must come at a high cost, right? As far as we are concerned, Sony has priced it quite reasonably, we think if it a great bang for the buck.
iHome has managed to provide us with all sorts of speakers made with Apple products in mind. Some of them may be mediocre, some even questionable, but this speaker dock is one of the good ones, if not the best in their iOS compatible stables. What makes this speaker dock unique is, as the name suggests, that it also serves as a clock. That being said, most of its features are built on this function. We have programmable dual alarms with weekday, weekend or everyday as an option, we have programmable sleep, snooze, and nap timers, and auto sync, which synchronizes the clock to that of your iPad’s clock. It also has an auxiliary jack and a USB port which always comes in handy in case you want to use this a speaker for your other devices.
As for the sound it delivers, this speaker dock is what is termed by iHome as a “Reson8 speaker”, which makes its speaker chambers specially designed to deliver astounding clarity, depth, and power.
As mentioned, iHome provides us with a vast number of speakers made for Apple devices, so it should be no surprise that iHome made it on this list twice. This model does not have a clock, making it a simpler, minimalistic model compared to the clock-enabled dock above. It features an LED battery level indicator that lets you see at a glance when the battery needs charging. It also comes with an auxiliary jack and a USB port, similar to that of their clock and speaker dock.
Moving on to its sound quality, this is where things differ a bit. It still has iHome’s “Reson8″, but paired with it is its SRS TruBass circuitry enhancing the audio quality even more. The sound quality may not be as great as high end speakers out there, but this one is not really bad at all, especially when considering the price.