Technology and style are concepts many companies are only starting to realise go hand in hand, but this accusation could never be levelled at Loewe. The German manufacturer has long married both concepts producing visually arresting products with similarly jaw dropping price tags. The approach has served the company well in its traditional TV and AV equipment lines, but does it translate to iPod docks?
We were lucky enough to be the first UK site to get our hands on the Loewe Soundbox and it makes an immediate impression. Removed from its packaging, the it is 100 per cent Loewe: striking, polarising and individual. At 470 x 190 x 58mm, 6.1Kg and decidedly rectangular, the 'box' aspect to the Soundbox is certainly true. Meanwhile typical Loewe styling comes in the form of a near-retro dot-matrix-esque LCD display, long line of physical control buttons and the 'feature wall' top which comes with a textured hard metal inset. Being Loewe the top is interchangeable and can be swapped out for an array of different colours "to suit any décor".
Functionality is more traditional. An iPod dock is the primary means of connectivity, but it is complimented by USB, an auxiliary input and a headphone socket. Also packed in are an FM radio with RDS and a slot loading CD player. For audiophiles who struggle to see the value of lossy codecs and lament the demise of their extensive CD collections this will be a key feature.
Interestingly Loewe continues its trick of using proprietary universal remotes and the Soundbox remote can also control Loewe TVs, DVD and Blu-ray players. As such the Soundbox remote is as big as one for a TV and contains a lot of additional functionality such as EPG and PIP (picture-in-picture) buttons, record controls and more. This is handy if you already own Loewe equipment, but unnecessarily complicates usage if you don't.
What about the beating heart of the Soundbox? Loewe is Bose-like in its secrecy so all we are told officially is "two four-inch, full-range speakers and twin digital stereo amplifiers give the Soundbox a rich, powerful sound." This isn't overly useful (though admittedly neither are output powering ratings, typically), but we were able to confirm the Soundbox essentially uses a 2.0 speaker arrangement as opposed to a 2.1 setup. This is somewhat unusual for a premium dock, so how does it fair?