Audio Docking stations, the perfect option for hooking your digital music collection to the real world, but how do you go about selecting what type of speaker you should go for?
With a wide range of connection sizes and prices, this guide gives you a quick into the world of docking station.
What is a Speaker dock?
As its name suggests, a speaker docking station is a system that can accommodate an electronic device to playback music, as well as charge its battery.
What docks are out there?
You’ll find two major types of docking stations: standalone and combined.
Standalone speaker docks tend to be the smallest and most portable, however standalone actually refers to the dock only having one predominant playback feature- a dock.
Standalone docking stations are usually just a speaker that you can attach your device to. These are ideal for travelling, or those who want to listen to music outside as they tend to be lightweight and have the option of battery power. They also combine a charger with a speaker cutting down equipment you need when travelling.
Standalone docking stations work great with smaller devices like smartphone, iPods and mp3 players but might be too small for an iPad or large tablet.
They are also cheaper than their counterparts making them a good option for those on a budget with prices starting from as low as £10 moving up to the £40 mark.
Combined speaker docks work the same their standalone counterpart, but have the option of another feature rolled in. Usually a DAB radio, an alarm or maybe CD player.
As they have more features they tend to be bigger and a little less portable, so will usually be mains powered, however some do run off rechargeable batteries. Combined docks are the most common on the market and can range from the £20 all the way up to over £200.
They have begun replacing the clunky Hi-Fi system in households due to their small size and multiple features.
Combined docks will accommodate smaller devices like iPods and smartphones as well as large tablets and iPad.
Connections and Charging
Docking stations usually combine playback with some sort of charging option. This means you can play music and charge the battery of device all in one dock.
Depending on your device, you need to choose a docking station with a corresponding connection port. For example an iPod will have a different port to a Samsung smartphone. If you want to be able to charge your device and play music via the dock, you’ll need to make sure you get the right connection.
Apple’s 30 pin adapter is probably the most common connector currently on the market but this is quickly being replaced by Apple’s newer Lightning connector and the universal Micro USB.
Micro USB is a particularly useful connector as a huge proportion of smartphones, mp3 players and tablets use the connection. However, note that no Apple products use micro USB.
Most docks will also have Aux connector (3.5mm jack) that plugs into the headphone jack. This will allow you to play music via other devices, however this won’t charge the device. This is particularly useful if you have number of different devices from multiple manufacturers in the house.
Bluetooth or Wireless
More modern docks may also come with Bluetooth or wireless connectivity options. This means you can pair a remote or Bluetooth enabled player to the dock. However once again, this won’t charge a battery.
Dual chargers are little harder to come by as they require two connectors but you can still find them on larger combined systems like HiFi’s, TVs or even Blue-Ray Players.