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Bose SoundDock Series III: A Compact Alternative to a Traditional Stereo

June 7, 2016
Product Comparisons, Shopping
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Whether you’re plugging them in for easy listening at home or playing tunes while hosting friends, speaker docking stations are great for high-volume sound without spending a whole lot on a home stereo system.

Plus, anyone can use them to play music — all you need is your phone.

The Bose SoundDock Series III is a good example of a docking station’s potential to mimic a stereo, and it will satisfy casual users but won’t replace a full system for more demanding listeners.

The Series III comes from a long line of top-notch Bose sound quality and audio innovation. When you pack Bose technology into a slender mounting station, the SoundDock is what you get.

We compared the pros and cons of the Bose SoundDock Series III to help you decide whether it is the right speaker for you.

The speaker

The Bose SoundDock Series III is Bose’s countertop sound system made ideal for small home spaces, such as a bedroom, kitchen or den. The 4.56-pound “system” is more or less a large speaker with a mount to plug in an iPod or iPhone. Its sleek black body would take up minimal space on the kitchen counter and fit comfortably on an end table.

The Series III is available with a 30-pin connector (for classic iPods and older iPhone models up to the 4S) and the Apple Lightning connector (compatible with the more recent iPod Touch and iPhone 5 and newer models).

Though made for Apple devices, there are several adapters available to play any device. Android users can use an auxiliary cord to connect their devices through the headphone jack. Bluetooth adapters can also be purchased if users want to connect their music wirelessly.

Once connected, the SoundDock can play any content supported on the device, including music, podcasts or sound from video. The speaker comes with a remote control to adjust volume, switch songs, navigate through playlists or turn the power on and off.

The SoundDock Series III can be found at Amazon for $249.

» MORE: Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless vs. Plantronics BackBeat Fit

The reviews

For this review, we consulted and evaluated expert opinions from sources such as Good Housekeeping, CNET and the Sweethome. We also analyzed user reviews to determine the speaker’s overall performance, sound quality and ease of use, while also noting any other observations. We scored the speaker on a scale from a low of 1 to a high of 10 to rate the speaker across a variety of circumstances and settings.

The Bose SoundDock Series III shined in the sound quality category with a 9.42. It scored lower for ease of use at 6.03, but earned an overall score of 7.76. Let’s take a look at its pros and cons.

The pros

Many users said they loved the sound quality of the SoundDock, which is music to any audio company’s ears.

Some praised the rich, balanced tones that came from the small Bose music system.

No matter the genre, it consistently delivered crisp, clear sound without the need to toggle the equalizer. The Series III produced a sound that could fill a room but didn’t become tinny or distorted when pushed to higher volumes. The bass would thump, even at soft volumes.

Such big sound would be less impressive if it came from a complete, standard home system. But the SoundDock’s small stature added to its value. Some users liked how the Series III didn’t occupy a lot of space and could be easily moved from room to room.

The cons

Although the SoundDock passed the sound test with flying colors, certain reviewers had a few annoyances with its functionality.

One of the main issues was with the shallow dock connector. If you have a case on your phone, that can obstruct how the device connects to the mount. Some users noted that while it’s a minor design flaw, taking the case off every time they wanted to play music grew annoying. Many opted to plug their device into the headphone jack with an auxiliary cord instead.

Certain reviewers also noted that they relied on the remote to control the SoundDock, as there were no controls on the speaker body. Some believed that if they lost or broke the remote, it would be irksome to constantly go back to the speaker to control the music directly from their device.

The verdict

Overall, users said the SoundDock delivered on Bose’s signature sound quality. Reviewers admired how warm their music sounded and appreciated the clarity, balance and depth of sound.

Minor design flaws aside, most users had little to complain about with the SoundDock. Many reviewers were able to solve any issues themselves, such as plugging the device into the headphone jack instead of the mount or keeping tabs on the remote.

For its price, the SoundDock offers good value for the casual music listener. Even though the Series III produces Bose-quality sound, it could never replace a true home stereo system for more serious speaker aficionados.

If you’re looking for a more advanced home speaker, check out our comparison of the Amazon Echo with the Sonos Play:1. And if you want to enjoy your music privately, read our review of two popular headphones, the Beats Studio and the Bose QuietComfort 25.

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Nina Tabios is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected].