This article first appeared in HWM Feb 2012.
There are a myriad of iPod speaker docks for iPod owners to choose from, ranging from the high-end models like the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin to the more modest offerings costing much less. Of course, with so much choice, it really boils down to what your needs are.
The XtremeMac Soma Travel is a handy little speaker system aimed at those looking for speakers for their iPod, or an affordable way to boost the volume of their iPad. An oddity if you compare it to the majority of portable speaker docks found in the market, the Soma Travel isn’t exactly a dock in the strictest sense as it neither contains a battery, nor does it run on an external power supply; it draws power from the docked Apple product.
Sporting a candy bar design, the Soma Travel may not be the most portable speaker dock around, but all that added heft is useful if you’re intending to use it with an iPad, as lighter docks may just fall over due to the weight of the much larger iPad. The Soma Travel also feels very sturdy; we’re guessing it might withstand a drop or two onto carpeted hotel floors.
With the Soma Travel there are only three buttons to contend with: one for power, and two for volume adjustment. The dock connector pops out from the front of the device, which you can just pop back in when not in use. A mini-USB port is located on the back which allows you to connect the dock to a PC or Mac, as well as to sync your Apple device while simultaneously charging it. On the other hand, the bundled cable is a little on the short end, and you have to place the Soma Travel pretty much right next to the USB port anyway.
While cheaper speaker alternatives opt for an aux-in port, with the Soma Travel’s dock connector you can also use it as a stand or to charge your iPod if you happen to have access to a powered USB port. The Soma Travel’s two speakers provide stereo sound, which provides better quality audio than the default monoaural speakers found on the iPad or iPhone.
Of course, due to the passive-powered nature of the speakers, the highest volume setting of the Soma Travel isn’t that much louder than the iPad or iPhone’s speakers, so the Soma Travel is one that’s more suited to solo listening in a small to medium-sized room. Audio for the Soma Travel favors neither bass nor treble, though the sound can be altered via your Apple device’s EQ settings.
The Soma Travel is a handy speaker stand to have around if you’re not too demanding on audio quality, though the fact that the speakers are passively-powered and running on your Apple device’s power may prove a deal-breaker to some. While the Soma Travel may not be the most compact solution around, it’s small enough to fit into a bag and its solid construction means that it probably won’t fall apart if you throw it into your bag with your keys and other stuff.