It may look understated, but Audyssey's Lower East Side Dock Air makes its presence known. Featuring Apple's AirPlay wireless streaming audio technology, the speaker offers rich, balanced sound and multi-room speaker capability. But is it worth the $399 price tag?
The Audyssey Lower East Dock Air has a decidedly monolithic look. Two tweeters, two midrange woofers, and a pair of passive bass radiators sit inside a black 8.9 x 8.3 x 4.8-inch box whose sides are dominated by fabric speaker covers. Running between them is a plastic band that has a volume dial and two LED status lights at the top, and the pair button and ports for auxiliary and power in the rear. A lone headphone jack sits in the front, in case you want to keep the music to yourself.
At 5.2 pounds, the LES Dock Air isn't the most portable speaker on the block, but it could feasibly fit into a large book bag.
Setup and Ease of Use
Unlike Bluetooth-enabled speakers, you must connect to the LES Dock through a local Wi-Fi network, which is a little more labor-intensive. When you turn on the dock, it broadcasts its own Wi-Fi signal. You must first connect to it using your notebook or phone, and then reconfigure the dock's Wi-Fi to connect to your local network via a web browser. Then, after reconnecting your phone, iPad, or notebook to your local network, you can stream music via AirPlay to the dock. All in all, the process took about 4 minutes.
The advantage of using AirPlay is that the LES Dock's range is much greater than Bluetooth's, which is limited to about 30 feet. Provided your Wi-Fi network is strong enough, you can control the LES Dock from the other side of your house, or even from outside. Even better, you can link multiple LES Docks, so you can have the same tracks playing in multiple rooms.
After pressing the AirPlay button on our iPhone (or in iTunes on our notebook), there were a few instances of lag (between 3 to 4 seconds), but more often than not, our music began playing immediately. We wish there was a way to disable the LES Dock Air's sleep mode, which activated after less than 10 seconds of inactivity. It also would have been nice to have a speakerphone function, especially when we were using our iPhone.
The Lower East Dock Air took everything we threw at it and more. Highs, lows, and everything in between sounded rich and balanced.
Adam Levine's crisp tenor voice filled a fairly large room, and we were able to crank the volume without distorting the synthesized instrumentals and energetic guitar. Kool & The Gang's "Summer Madness" was rich and sultry, as was Ella's lilting voice. While it doesn't have active subwoofers, we liked how well the passive bass radiators handled the bass-heavy "Harsh" as well as Busta Rhymes' bombastic hook.
Since the speakers protrude from the sides, we never heard an audio dead spot. At maximum volume, the LES Dock Air easily overshadowed the Bose Soundlink Wireless Mobile speaker without sacrificing audio quality.
Unfortunately, the LES Dock Air doesn't have a battery and has to be plugged into an outlet at all times.
The $399 Audyssey Lower East Side Dock Air speaker has a lot of things going for it. Packed with tweeters and woofers, it provides loud, rich, and balanced audio no matter the music genre. Although the initial setup is somewhat complicated, the speaker's long range--and the ability to link multiple docks--makes this AirPlay-enabled device well worth the investment.