Dock-style speakers for the iPod, iPhone or iPad usually involve a compromise between power and size. I say that as someone who has reviewed many a speaker dock, most of which don’t have the audio chops to produce loud sound without distortion or adequate bass. That is not the case, however, for Behringer’s $179 iNuke Boom Junior. Weighing 10.6 pounds and measuring 8.7 inches tall, 16.5 inches wide and 9.8 inches deep, I’d hate to see what size the iNuke Boom “Senior” comes in at (for you Curious Georges out there, Behringer’s original iNuke Boom is actually 8 feet wide and churns out a utility bill-denting 10,000 watts). Yep, this “little” sucker was likely dreamed up by the same folks who like squeezing in the biggest car engine in the smallest, lightest car frame they could find.
My adventures with the iNuke Boom Junior started after the office secretary huffed and puffed her way to my desk, plopped the device’s ginormous packaging next to my chair and gave me an icy stare before huffing away. Pretty soon, I had several co-workers milling around my desk like ants to honey.
“Can you open it?” asked one guy after noticing the speaker’s illustration on the box.
“What is thaaat?” asked one female coworker.
“Seriously, can you open it?” asked another guy.
Unfortunately for them, I was on deadline so they grudgingly walked away after I told them “no can do.” Things weren’t any different after I got home while some relatives were visiting for the holidays.
“Can you open it?” asked one male cousin.
“What is thaaat?” asked my mom.
“Seriously, can you open it?” asked my uncle.
I shooed them all away, knowing that I couldn’t test the product to its fullest (i.e. loudest) with all these people around. After all, I didn’t want to be responsible for giving my grandmother a heart attack. Then one morning, while most of my relatives were out for some post-Christmas shopping, I decided to finally unpack the iNuke Boom Junior. One plus is that the device comes with several extras, including an analog RCA stereo cable, a double plug for connecting to any music source with a headphone jack, as well as batteries for its remote. The speaker itself has a minimalist look that evokes the speaker boxes my uncles used to make. Then again, those speaker boxes didn’t come with fancy light-up controls and a classic Apple dock connector. The light-up buttons and stand are actually a nice touch, providing a contrast to the speaker’s no-nonsense design. The dock connector also clicks down to activate, although it unfortunately causes a loose connection sometimes that kills the sound quality. Fortunately, you can also connect your “i” device — or even your laptop or any other non-Apple device via the headphone jack connector (thought this means you can no longer use the remote to control your Apple device).
The audio quality itself is quite good, especially after breaking in the Boom Junior. Unlike some speakers that come with fancy faux surround or 3D sound effects, the speaker dock only comes with treble and bass controls, which purists will likely prefer. Instead, the highlight of the iNuke Boom Junior is a downward-facing 5.25-inch subwoofer, which adds chest-thumping punch to its front-facing 1-inch tweeters and 3-inch midrange speakers. I could literally feel the pressure on my skull after sitting next to the device with the bass maxed out and the volume raised to what I can only describe as “Say what?” levels. You can really push the volume on this speaker without noticing any distortion. Sound is also good, especially for hip-hop and electronic-style alternative music. You likely wouldn’t want to set the bass to max, though, or you start losing some detail.
Unlike more traditional speaker docks like the iHome iD50, the Boom Junior does not come with features like a radio, alarm or electronic display. What it comes with, however, is way better sound quality, making this an attractive option for folks who prioritize powerful audio when it comes to their speaker dock.
Final rating: 4 stars out of 5.
For more about portable audio devices, check out our Speaker and Headphone Hub.