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Review: Onkyo SBX-300 iOnly Bass Dock Music System

By Lex Friedman
April 13, 2012 09:49 AM ET

Macworld - Onkyo's SBX-300 iOnly Bass Dock Music System is a speaker dock that works with any iOS device, including all models of the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, as well as the iPod classic and the second-generation-or-later iPad nano. Onkyo suggests a retail price of $249, but you can find it online for nearly a hundred bucks less.

The SBX-300 is shaped like an all-black, triangular prism and sports an integrated aluminum handle and base, plastic sides, and a cloth-fabric grill covering the speakers. The 7.7 pound unit measures 17.7 inches wide, 5.2 inches deep, and 6.9 inches tall.

The system's dock-connector cradle pops out from the bottom center of the unit after you push gently in the right spot. To fold the cradle back in, you first slide a switch on the front face of the unit, and then you flip the hinged cradle back into the unit's body. Centered on the front of the dock cradle is an LED that glows white when the unit is powered on, switching to green when you switch to auxiliary-input mode.

At the upper right of the SBX-300's face, shining from behind the fabric speaker cover, are a pair of LED displays. The first is a green volume indicator, which displays up to five green LEDs, depending on the volume level. The first four volume LEDs encompass seven different unmarked levels each; the fifth and loudest setting adds two more levels, for a total of 30 volume levels. The second LED indicates the status of the SBX-300's Super Bass feature (more on this in a moment): off, Super Bass 1 (green), or Super Bass 2 (orange).

On the right side of the SBX-300 sits a large, silver power button, along with several smaller buttons: Input, Volume Up, Volume Down, and Super Bass. There's also a 1/8 inch (3.5mm) auxiliary-input port for listening to a non-docking audio source. There's but one port on the rear of the unit, and that's for the included AC adapter.

The SBX-300 also ships a dinky, plastic, blister-button infrared remote controls. The remote replicates all the main unit's on-board buttons (Power, Input, Volume, and Super Bass), but it adds numerous options: Play/Pause, Previous, Next, Shuffle, Repeat, Muting, and buttons (Up, Down, Menu, and Enter) for navigating iOS or iPod menus.

At this point, I've mentioned the Super Bass feature enough times that it warrants explanation. The technology boosts low-frequency audio to add a substantial amount of bass presence. Without Super Bass enabled, the SBX-300 lacks oomph. With it enabled, especially at level 2, bass can sound a bit overwhelming--and sometimes distorted. Unless you want to adjust the Super Bass level for each song, I recommend sticking with Super Bass 1 as a good compromise.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 Mac Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
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