Let there be no doubt who built the biggest, loudest speaker dock on the block.
Behringer's original iNuke Boom, the one and only, turned into Frankendock: 8 feet wide and 4 feet tall, a staggering 700 pounds (or more) and an eardrum-puncturing 10,000 watts. That little speck way up on top of the iNuke Boom was your docked iPhone.
Behringer, a German manufacturer of professional and consumer audio equipment, built the iNuke Boom as a showpiece for an electronics show early last year. Several months later, in the fall, the iNuke Boom Junior showed up like a baby left on the doorstep. Junior looks remarkably like the Big Unit, but at 16.5 inches wide, less than 9 inches tall and not quite 11 pounds, is easily transportable by a single human anywhere in the home.
The iNuke Boom Junior, coincidentally, arrived close to the day Apple fired the shot that hit every dock where it hurts when it abandoned the familiar 30-pin connector for the eight-pin Lightning on the new iPhone 5 and all future devices. Suddenly, every speaker dock ever made was out of step with Apple's march of progress. Now, makers of Apple accessories have moved toward no-dock speakers using Bluetooth or AirPlay wireless technology.
Later this year, Behringer will introduce a newer Junior with no dock and both Bluetooth and Airplay. So where does this leave the iNuke Boom Junior, barely out of the womb? For present-day owners of any iPhone (except the Lightning-equipped No. 5), iPod Touch, Nano and iPad, Junior is a powerhouse that betters any no-frills speaker dock I've auditioned in its class except the Fluance FiSDK500 ($229, fluance.com).
I'd still take the Fluance for its overall quality of construction, high-class looks and across-the-board sound. For less than $200, though, the iNuke Boom Junior (retail price: $180) will have little competition among docks lacking wireless and remote-control-app features. At Costco's current $79.99 blowout, it likely has none.
Even with the "Junior" qualification, any company that doubles-down with a name like iNuke Boom better back it up. Junior won't bend floorboards like the original, but it does reach some rap-level lower frequencies with a 5.25-inch woofer mounted face down in the cabinet. For normal listening, I preferred to reduce the bass using Junior's remote control.
Junior also has two speakers, each with a 1-inch tweeter and 3-inch midrange driver, mounted in the front of a cabinet constructed of medium-density-fiberboard — thin, but the same material more expensive speakers use to reduce distortion.
Elsewhere, it's all no-frills. Junior has only a few push-button controls adjacent to the dock such as volume control and play-pause-skip for iPhone/iPod/iPad. The dock itself has an awkward pop-in, clear-plastic backrest illuminated, too brightly, by a pair of LEDs. The backrest worked fine with both an iPhone and an iPod Touch, but I could not mount an iPad without first removing the backrest.
Junior has a separate analog input on its back panel that I connected to a cable box and, behind the backrest, a minijack for a non-Apple mobile device. The remote adds navigational skills for your Apple device and the bass/treble controls. The composite-video output is only somewhat useful, though I managed to display Liam Neeson and "Unknown" from an HBO feed using a Sling Player app on a 60-inch screen.
Junior, naturally, isn't afraid of bass-heavy rap but also excels at lighter material like chamber jazz, acoustic folk and vocals. Its principle weakness is in the higher frequencies, which can get "hot," or harsh.
This iNuke Boom Junior will not have a long lifetime, given the push to no-dock, wireless speakers. Yet for conventional tastes, at a blowout price, it's the real deal.
What: Behringer iNuke Boom Junior speaker dock
Price: $180 ($80 at Costco), behringer.com
Hot: Big, bold sound with a surprising sophisticated midrange.
Not: Harsh high frequencies at higher volumes; no wireless or remote-control app features
Energy use: Moderate-to-high volume, 6.1 watts; Standby, 3.9 watts.