The biggest complaint when the iPhone 5 first came out was that the replacement of the ubiquitous 30-pin connector with the new lightning one meant that virtually all of the iPhone peripherals people had accumulated over the years were now useless. I thought these claims were baseless, that was until I wanted to play some music in my kitchen while cooking. My formerly awesome speaker dock was now completely useless. I had two options: buy an adapter from Apple that made my phone sit poorly in the dock or buy a new lightning enabled speaker dock. Well, I am happy to report that one of these fine speaker docks has made its way to my house. The speaker dock is called the Aud 5 from iLuv. How is it? Read on to find out.
The Aud 5 is a nice looking dock. The overall design of the unit is quite complex, with a design that is both tapered as well as rounded, allowing plenty of room for the internal speakers and their required acoustic space. The unit is made of high-gloss plastic, which looks great, but is a fingerprint and dust magnet.
On the top of the Aud 5 is a row of buttons and a light ring. All of the buttons are nicely tactile with a satisfying click as you press them. This ring is lit up when the unit is turned on and flashes when the volume is adjusted. On the front is the Lightning Dock.
This dock is recessed nicely and is mounted on a spring-hinge that allows for a nice tight fit securing the iPhone to the dock, unfortunately there is a raised edge on the dock that does not work with most cases that I have tried. While I have not tried to use the dock with an iPod nano or an iPod touch (both of which I assume will fit), I tried to use an iPad mini —ridiculous I know— to no avail. So for those that are looking for an all-lightning-device compatible unit, look elsewhere. The rest of the front of the system is covered in speaker mesh, in this case it is a thin fabric which is pulled adequately taut. Personally I wish that the iLuv had made the speaker grille out of a nice metal mesh, or even a more robust fabric, but it is entirely possible that this is the best for sound quality (which is far more important than aesthetics). On that note, enough about hardware, how does the Aud 5 sound?
I have been using various speaker docks from a couple of different manufacturers with all of my previous iPhones, but this is the first Lightning compatible model I have used. Why is this relevant? With Lightning came a change in how the iPhone outputs sound, it is now an all digital connection, which means that in-theory you will get a truer reproduction on output. What this also means is that I don’t have a great basis for comparison in sound quality. What I can say, however, is that the Aud 5 sounds great, and compared to the other (older, 30-pin) speaker docks I have used, this sounds much better. Some other units have a hard time reproducing sounds at higher volumes, and the resulting product is a terribly tinny washed-out sound. I have yet to experience this with the Aud 5. In testing with a variety of music I noticed great overall sound, with some mellowing of the bass on particularly bass-heavy tracks, but that is to be expected as this unit is, after all, a desktop iPhone dock, with limited room for a proper subwoofer.
Other than some minor bass issues, the speakers performed really well, and I do not hesitate to recommend this unit based on sound quality alone. There are some features that are noticeably absent from the device; mainly any kind of radio functionality. I also wish that the power indicator ring did more, it would have been great spot for a small display to show volume level, track info, and other useful information instead.
The Aud 5 is a great speaker dock. From the physical design to sound quality, iLuv has a hit on their hands. That is not to say it is without fault, but with some minor tweaks, this would be a perfect Lightning-compatible speaker dock.
- Great sound quality
- Good Price
- Looks Nice
- Not Compatible with all Lightning Devices
- Speaker Grille could be nicer
- Does not work with Most iPhone cases.
Price: $130 From Amazon