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There are tons of audio docks for your iPhone or iPod touch, but models for your iPad are much harder to come by. The Sound Step from Soundfreaq is built to accommodate your iPad or any other dock connector–equipped device. But the connectivity doesn’t stop there. This small speaker dock is also Bluetooth-enabled, so you can stream wirelessly, and there’s also an auxiliary input, so you can connect with just about anything. But for those times when you just want to disconnect, the Sound Step Recharge also comes equipped with a rechargeable battery so that you can cut the cord and take your tunes on the road—or at least to the backyard.
It’s easy to carry anywhere you need a little musical accompaniment, but if your Sound Step is more likely to stay anchored to a desk, you can save yourself 20 bucks on an otherwise identical battery-less version. Despite its small size, the Sound Step is packed with features. In addition to all the connectivity options, there’s a powered USB port in the back to charge additional devices—your Apple gear charges via the dock connector. If you somehow can’t manage to find enough audio to listen to with all of your devices, the free Soundfreaq companion iOS app allows you to control the Sound Step’s built-in FM radio. It works, but it’s a bit cumbersome, and the app doesn’t have much else to offer.
While the Sound Step’s many bells and whistles are sure to please, the smaller size does offer a few drawbacks. For one, the Sound Step’s sound quality is a few steps down from its larger sibling, which we reviewed last year (Feb/11, p66, 4.5 stars). Sound Step heavily favors midrange tones. That said, it’s not a bad listening experience, and the Sound Step will be right at home on your desk or nightstand.
The bottom line. The Sound Step will connect to just about anything. It’s not a party-starter, but for more modest needs, this small dock has a lot to offer in the way of portability and connectivity.
Sound Step Recharge
iOS device or other music source
Small enough to be truly portable. USB port charges other devices. Can connect to just about anything.
Otherwise lackluster app is the only way to control FM radio. Remote feels like an afterthought.