As the iPhone dock market has developed, new features have continually been introduced. Wireless streaming, integrated batteries, fancy controller apps and video screens have all done the rounds. The Bayan Audio 3 rejects all of these periphery features, focusing instead on producing a big sound for a small price. And while it's not perfect, virtually no docks of this size and price pack as quite as much wallop as this little monster.
The Bayan Audio 3 boasts a slightly unusual design. An amalgamation of power and portability, of clear compromises and surprising benefits, it's at once familiar and something a little new.
Size-wise, it's a happy bedroom-sized unit. It extends back a little more than a bedside radio like the Logitech Squeezebox Radio, but is the sort of unit that'll fit into rooms without too much re-arranging.
What's impressive in a sub-£80 speaker like this is its use of sturdy-feeling materials. The Bayan Audio 3 is made up of two main parts, a hard plastic housing for the main driver and a 1cm thick slab of wood, making up the rest of the front. It's a real step up from the glossy black plastic often seen in entry-level docks like this, and the use of a matt finish helps to give it a touch of classiness.
Yep, it's basically some bits bolted onto a subwoofer
It also tempers the Bayan Audio 3's brasher design elements. With exposed silver speakers, and an all-too-clear Bayan logo on the larger one, we can't help but feel this dock could have been made all the more lounge-friendly with a design tweak or two. But compared with the larger Bayan Audio 7, it's a real cutie. The one on-body control visible during normal use is the touch-sensitive power button up top, which glows blue or red depending on whether the dock is turned on or not.
The simple feature set of the dock rules-out needing a display. On its front, there's a 30-pin dock designed to house iPhones and iPod touches - there's not enough room to shove an iPad on here. However, tablets are catered-for.
Around the back, there's a USB port and auxiliary 3.5mm audio input. Although not as neat a solution as an all-in-one dock port, this lets you charge and take audio from a wide variety of non-iOS devices, including Android tablets and phones.
Note the manual volume controls on the rear
An unusually generous extra, the Bayan Audio 3 includes yet another 3.5mm audio input on the rear, giving a total of three devices that can be plugged-in at once. You could, for example, plug in your computer as well as a tablet and phone - although the speaker arrangement doesn't lend the dock to work as an all-round computer speaker system. A 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable comes in the box too (although ours started falling apart at the jack plug during testing).
The supplied remote control lets you switch easily between these three inputs. This remote won't strike you with its beauty, but it's a very high-quality number for a sub-£100 dock. Instead of a generic credit-card size remote, it's a chunky rubber-buttoned affair that gives you access to EQ, volume and playback controls, and also lets you navigate remotely through an iPod or iPhone's menu system. The same remote used by the £300 Bayan Audio 7, it wins the cheaper, smaller dock a fistful brownie points.