In an age of wireless technologies like Bluetooth, AirPlay and DLNA, one might expect the speaker dock would be dead. And while there certainly are far fewer speaker docks that rely on a direct connection to the audio source, iLuv clearly believes there is a market for such accessories.
After using the iLuv Aud 5 for the last week, I have to agree with them. I love my Sonos system, and I’m a fan of the Libratone Zip (Elana is too, and she uses it every morning), but there is something to be said about a speaker that will also charge your iPhone or iPod touch. Still, in an era of sub-$100 Bluetooth speakers, charging your device isn’t enough to justify the $149.99 price tag. You also need decent sound.
That’s where the Aud 5 really surprised me.
The Aud 5 is a decent looking speaker dock made from shiny piano black plastic with subtle buttons on the top. While the Aud 5 isn’t fancy, it does offer some visual interest thanks to its graceful slope toward the back and the ring on the top which glows when the speaker is turned on. iLuv notes that the Aud 5 is “meant to be the centerpiece of any room”. I’m not sure about that, but I do know that it certainly looks good enough AND unobtrusive enough that it should fit in nicely no matter where you choose to use it.
One of the benefits of the Aud 5 is its simplicity. You can get music from your audio source to the speaker in two ways. It is iLuv’s first Lightning connector-equipped dock. That means it will not only pull audio from an iPhone 5 or current generation iPod touch, but it will also charge the iOS device. If, however, you are using something other than an iPhone 5 or iPod touch, then you can connect the audio source to the Aud 5 through the Aux In port on the back. The Aud 5 is BYOC- Bring Your Own Cable, and as such it doesn’t ship with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. Thankfully they are inexpensive.
There is no wireless connectivity on the device as-shipped.
If you use an iPhone 5 or iPod touch, you will be quite happy. The connection is easy to make, and the space around the Lightning connector is recessed enough to give the iOS device some added stability. Unfortunately, the recessed area means the Aud 5 is specifically designed for the iPhone 5 or current iPod touch. Other devices need to connect via the 3.5mm Aux In port.
The Aud 5 doesn’t ship with a remote and the controls on the top are rather basic. There is a power button, Volume Up, Volume Down and track skip or repeat. That’s it. There is a free iLuv app in the iTunes App store that will give you some clock and audio functionality. In other words, if you are looking for lots of bells and whistles, then you will likely want to look elsewhere.
What surprised me most was the sound coming from the Aud 5; it is quite good. iLuv notes
Aud 5 was designed to wow you. It was built with full-range speakers for sound that wont disappoint and a passive radiator for deep, resonant bass. If your main focus is sound, Aud 5 is sure to please.
I expect decent but not good sound from a sub-$150 speaker dock, yet the Aud 5 actually impressed me. The full-range speakers and a passive radiator for bass work together quite well and pump out sound that is more than enjoyable. Is this going to be the kind of sound that will wow an audiophile? No way. But for casual listening at home or in the office, this is more than good enough. And since it will also charge your iPhone or iPod touch, you will lose the added clutter of another charging cable.
The Aud 5 isn’t for everyone. If, however, you carry an iPhone 5, and you are looking for a nice way to not only charge it but fill a small to medium-size room with sound, it is a good option. At $150, it also makes a great Father’s Day gift. Learn more on the product page.
What I Like: Inexpensive; Specifically designed for the iPhone 5 and its Lightning connector; Impressive sound for a speaker dock; Aux In for broader audio source options
What Needs Improvement: No remote; No Wireless connectivity
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample