Loewe describes the Soundbox as rich and powerful, but unfortunately we found them to be bywords for muddy and muffled. The Soundbox does pack a punch, easily filling a large living room or entertaining a moderately sized house party, but it cannot quite reach the levels of the B&W Zeppelin Air, Sound Freaq Sound Stack or (post firmware updated) Arcam rCube.
Less pleasing is how the Soundbox delivers its audio. Bass is both overcooked at low volumes, drowning out detail, and underwhelming as levels are cranked up. Furthermore stereo separation is limited and there is a severe lack of detail with many nuances lost. Yes the Soundbox is a perfectly adequate boom box, but that isn't the market Loewe is targeting judging by the price tag.
Loewe sells the Soundbox for £449, £50 less than the (AirPlay equipped) Zeppelin Air and £100 and £150 more than the (Bluetooth equipped) Sound Stack and (Kleer lossless and battery equipped) rCube respectively, and it cannot hold a candle to any of them. Rather than being a premium dock with differential design, sadly the Soundbox is a middle of the road dock in upmarket attire. The CD functionality may still attract some, but the brutal truth is CDs on the Soundbox don't sound any better than MP3s on these rival products and consequently the benefit is lost.
The good news is Loewe has big plans for the dock sector with the promising AirPlay enabled Air Speaker hot on the heels of the Soundbox. We'll accept the Soundbox as part of a learning curve, but Loewe needs to understand style isn't a differentiator in the dog-eat-dog market of docks… alongside pricing and performance, it is a prerequisite.
The Loewe Soundbox may garner admiring glances, but this individualism is lost once the dock is switched on. An FM tuner and CD playback cannot compensate for bass which is heavy handed at low volumes yet lacking when cranked up. There is also a lack of clarity, even with CDs, and the omission of any form of streaming functionality puts it at a further disadvantage. As a result the £449 asking price buys you little more than brand recognition. Loewe has shown many times in the past it can innovate both technically and stylistically, but the Soundbox is an exercise in style over substance.