TDK Life on Record wireless speaker range

TDK invited us to a big warehouse party in Shoreditch to play with their new range of speakers and headphones. This is because this is not your grandfather’s TDK. TDK have been in the game a long time, and originally started in the mid-30s as “????????????” with the current name coming from the initials Tokyo Denki Kagaku. They’re probably best known for their cassette tapes and many a party-jam was dubbed onto a C90 for effect but they also sponsored Crystal Palace FC (and a little team known as Ajax), I will always remember their giant sign in Piccadilly Circus that has been there for as long as I can remember (1990. I’ve blanked out the rest of the 80s).

Boombox

But TDK aren’t a footnote in the history or waiting for the nostalgia-obsessed in Dalston to suddenly fetishise cassette tapes. We’ve looked at their TDK Life on Record range before and it’s admirable how a brand that’s so old is committed to enhance audiophiles’ ever-evolving digital lifestyles and embracing new technology.

I can’t see the TDK Wireless Boombox without referencing Radio Raheem. See. The design alone should be enough to sell you on the device but it also sounds pretty amazing and has “room-filling” sound. It’s also bluetooth-enabled so will pump music from most modern tablets and smartphones with a 3.5 mm input if you’re totally wired (can’t you see). There’s a rechargeable battery for up to 6 hours of freestyle street dance battles. Adjustable bass and treble equalisation for optimal sound performance and a built-in FM radio with internal antenna and programmable station presets. So if kids on the bus blaring Kendrick Lamar bother you, pull out one of this and hit them with Moneybox Live.

TDK-Soundcube

Equally interesting visually is the Wireless Sound Cube which promised 360-degree sound. It’s an interesting centre piece certainly and can switch from omni-directional to directional sound mode to optimise sound quality no matter where it is placed. Like the Wireless Boombox it also works off of Bluetooth streaming.

weatherised-speaker

If you’re more about dancing in the streets to singing in the rain you’d probably like the TDK Life on Record Wireless Weatherproof Speaker. As you’d probably guessed it also features Bluetooth connectivity.The weatherised design protects against the elements and the rechargeable battery provides up to 6 hours of portable playback. If you take a lot of conference calls in fields the integrated microphone provides speakerphone functionality for hands-free calling.

Pricing and availability

TDK Life on Record Wireless Boombox
Now available at: HMV (in- store and online)
Available from 1st December at: Grattan, Urban Outfitters (selected London stores)
U.K. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP): £279.99

TDK Life on Record Wireless Sound Cube
Now available at: HMV (all stores and online)
Available from 1st December at: Amazon UK, Grattan, Urban Outfitters (online only)
U.K. MSRP: £229.99

TDK Life on Record Wireless Weatherproof Speaker
Now available at: Grattan
Available from 1st December at: Amazon UK
U.K. MSRP: £199.99

sonoro troy: They Reminisce Over USB

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could just get along? This lament has particular pertinence in the tech world. Despite all the open source evangelists hailing our new era of sharing and collaboration there are as many if not more closed systems than ever before. Maybe there’s another way? sonoro audio, the German design and engineering company (who hate capital letters) aim to change that with troy – a compact desktop speaker and charging system for everybody.

sonoro-troy

I look at a lot of iPod docks in my line of work and I can’t help but feel sorry for people with non iOS devices – especially as that’s most people. Not getting invited to play in the iPod dock party, they simply have to “make do” with an AUX input around the back. The troy levels the playing field – everyone has to use the same 3.5 mm charging port (actually it has two but they’re both 3.5 mm ports). This is so simple it’s actually a radical departure from convention. I had a unit in to test and it took me ages to get working because I assumed that my iPhone would just start playing straight away. But iPhone users, Android users or even Windows Phone users all have to follow the same rules.

The compact 2 kg unit contains two USB sockets for charging different devices and a neat little top cover to hide away most of the cabling. One socket supplies a 1 amp current for smaller devices and the other offering 2.1 amps for power-hungry devices such as tablets.

The troy features DSP and a bass reflex port so despite being decidedly low-tech in it’s approach to connectivity the sound is decidedly hi-fi. There are two audio inputs that can be controlled via a simple switch. There’s also a rotary knob on the side for volume but that also acts as an on off switch.

“troy is a chic all-round speaker system with universal charging and storage. The fact that troy can be used with practically any music-playing device such as smartphones, tablet PCs etc. makes it the perfect system for those who value stylish design, high-class finish, balanced audio quality and multi-connection convenience.”
Marcell Faller, founder and CEO of sonoro audio

troy’s speaker cabinet is made of wood, with rounded corners, which stiffen the cabinet, reducing internal resonance, whilst the high-quality plastic top and bottom add strength but not weight. The top storage compartment is double sided, with simple felt on one layer and an angled holder on the other side for tablets. The storage compartment hides cable clutter. troy comes in four felt finishes: Black, Green, Red or Grey.

I like troy and what it’s trying to do. Of course I’d prefer a slightly more hi-tech implementation maybe with Airplay, Bluetooth and wireless charging but that’s something to wish for in future implementations.

The sonoro troy has a suggested retail price of £149.00. For more information please visit www.sonoro-audio.com.

Tivoli Audio adds five new products to its family

If there is one thing Tivoli knows about, it’s radio, after all their original Model One redefined table top radio as we know it. That said, there’s no such thing as perfection and with this new batch of releases Tivoli has tweaked its two leading products and expanded its audio pedigree into other related areas.

Tivoli-Pal-BT

First off, the legendary vintage looking Tivoli Audio Model One BT has become Bluetoothed allowing it to talk wirelessly to any of your compatible music devices. With an 8 metre range and a pairing capacity of up to 8 devices, the Audio Model One BT, with its chunky tuner and front speaker will turn a table into a conversation piece. £199.

Next up is the Model One’s posher cousin the Tivoli Audio PAL BT. All sleek and trendy, this tried and tested rechargeable  portable radio has also been given the Bluetooth treatment, so wireless streaming and an all weather case to boot. £239.

In a slight departure from its now familiar range, Tivoli has created the Audio BluCon a standalone bluetooth receiver which will bring wireless streaming audio to any device equipped with an auxiliary input.   £99

With the Audio Radio Silenz Tivoli has crossed over into headphone territory, maintaining its reputation for a great build and high quality sonics. This is a pair of over ear phones that are clearly related to the Model One’s familiar wood finish, with their own tidy set of wooden veneer trims over the ear pieces. Coming in three colours, ash, walnut and cherry, these active noise cancelling phones also carry a muting button so you can hear someone talking to you if you need to. A very nice touch.

Lastly, the free to download Radio App contains a 100 music stations and 10 categorised genres specially chosen by Tivoli from suggestions from its online community. Available from the App Store and Google Play.

Foxl Portable Hifi Speaker: Portable sound that goes to 11

The early pioneering days of portable hi fi are like golden sunsets for me. A romantic notion it has to be said, but after a few minutes you want to move on, because tomorrow there’s another one coming along. And let’s face it, it wasn’t that long ago when we were packing those speakers into our suitcase and ending up with a pile of knotted up spaghetti that took forever to straighten out. Then there was the sound quality. Well, let’s not even go there. Fortunately hi fi has evolved at a frightening pace and thankfully speakers have become smaller and sound quality has improved no end. There has yet to be however, a portable wireless speaker system that lays down a benchmark for the industry to set as a standard bearer.

FoxLv2

The Foxl v2 however will raise one or two eyebrows, having been personally endorsed by a number of respected rock musicians who have a practical use for it on the road. Now before we all jump up and hail the new king of portable audio, let’s not assume that what we have here is the last word in miniature high end audio, but it is nevertheless an extraordinary breakthrough.

Practically the same size as your iPhone, your first expectations of the Foxlv2 are therefore perhaps just as small, but this is a pocket rocket that will punch much higher than its diminutive size due to some technological wizardry from Soundmatters’ founder Dr. Godehard Guenther.

Jordan Rudess loves his iPad Foxl speaker combo

Tiny dual 1-inch linear magnetic DriveTM Twoofers provide the clarity and range whilst a patented ‘BassBattery’ technology turns the battery into a woofer which together with passive bass radiators provide the bass depth so vital in making sound quality really effective. The bluetooth connectivity is good for at least 30 feet, and whilst there is bound to be some interference the overall effect is a triumph when you consider how small this device really is.

Soundmatters also includes an AC power alternative in the bundle which helps to boost output and recharges the battery which is stated to last over 8 hours. There is also a microphone that allows you to use it as a hands free speakerphone if you’re playing music through your connected phone.

There is a video of the amp in action here.

The FoxLv2 Bluetooth $199   www.soundmatters.com.

Trophy Cuddler Audio: Furniture just got more interesting

If you find it hard to get your other half enthused about sofa shopping, maybe this couch from DFS might spark his interest. You’re probably wondering why a site like Latest Gadgets is talking about couches, so let us enlighten you.

Trophy-Cuddler-Audio-Sofa

The DFS Trophy Cuddler Audio Sofa is a two-people sized couch that also features a built-in iPod entertainment dock with Bluetooth connectivity and USB port, speakers and subwoofer.
Is this starting to make sense now?

The Built in entertainment dock is exclusive to DFS and features iPod/iPhone/MP3 dock, USB port, auxiliary port, SD card slot & Bluetooth connectivity. The Trophy Cuddler also has the benefit of built-in speakers and subwoofer.

Now for the furniture stuff – it comes with metal feet or dark or light wood feet and has a 10-ear frame and springs guarantee.

Until the end of June the sofa is on offer at £699 (after that date it will costs £1,398)

We’re not convinced we’d go out of our way to buy one, but if you’re after a new sofa anyway, it’s certainly worth trying one out.

Available in DFS stores or order online at: www.dfs.co.uk

Arcam rPAC packs a powerful punch

Coming hot on the heels of Arcam’s recent drDock which brought a smile to any Apple device owner seeking an audio boost, this is another shot in the arm for audiophiles everywhere.

Arcam-rPac

Having said that, you would need to be a significant audiophile to want to shell out £150 on what is effectively a USB powered DAC. Nevertheless, there is no getting around the fact that Arcam know what it takes in the audio department, having spent the last thirty years producing hi fi at the very top end of the industry.

The rPAC is, on the face of it, a very simple device; taking audio files on a Mac or PC and converting them into powerful digital audio heaven via headphones or line output. But be warned, the simple black cast aluminium box is deceiving, as underneath the sleek lines lies a complex nest of circuitry in order to make this transformation happen. Like any audio converter tool, it’s the DAC quality that lies at the heart of it all and  the rPAC is driven by a TI Burr-Brown PCM5102 chipset and powered by asynchronous  USB technology, which bypasses the internal audio processing and consequently eliminates all the electronic timing jitter.

Having mentioned the simplicity of the cast aluminium box, it is just that, simple. There are only two buttons on the rPAC for volume up or down, other than that, an LED light indicates red for on or green when processing audio and there are  two 3.5mm phono connectors at the rear for connecting to an external AV source. The even better news is the build quality is up to the usual Arcam high standards with a solid feel to it and a damped rubber base to make it sit snugly on a table.

I suppose the beauty of the rPAC is there are no gimmicks here, it simply does what it says it does on the tin.

Arcam rPAC £150.

NaimUniti 2 takes high end to another level

High end often means high price, but it’s an often overused term. It’s become a standard phrase for anything remotely above ordinary; much like the often over hyped term 6 or 7 star hotel that now seem to be almost commonplace. Since when did 5 star lose its sheen?

NaimUniti

Audio however, is always a hard fought battleground, with new products and better development coming thick and fast. Fortunately, Naim Audio has always avoided getting sucked into this melting pot; this proudly British manufacturer manages to maintain a dignified distance from the front line with a range of excellent high end products aimed fairly and squarely at the audio connoisseur.

The NaimUniti 2 is a revitalised version of the highly respected NaimUniti the compact all in one audio system that contained an amplifier, CD player, a multi format tuner that delivers DAB, FM and internet radio together with a whole family of digital and analogue inputs including a front panel USB. There’s a built in Ipod/iPhone and iPad dock, digital to analogue converter and a high resolution 24 bit/192 khz network stream player.

The revamped NaimUniti2 now has a Burr-Brown PCM1793 DAC, a redesigned CD player section with a new clamping mechanism and integrated amplifier has been beefed up from 50 watts to 70 watts to embrace a wider selection of speaker types.The NaimUniti 2 also has a larger front panel display screen, bringing it a step closer to the sleek lines of its bigger sibling, the SuperUniti which delivers 80 watts output and a digital volume control button.Finally, there’s no shortage of connecters, with no less than five analogue and five digital inputs to hang out with our other home devices such as set-top TV boxes, DVD players and games consoles.

The NaimUniti2 is no cheap date though, coming with a price tag of £2,795. Then again, that’s the price you pay for quality.

Pioneer’s new Airplay-enabled Network Audio Players

Earlier this week, Pioneer announced two lovely new Network Audio Players. The N-30 and N-50 both support Apple’s AirPlay function and offer the ability to play music files from a variety of sources and formats, including high resolution 192 kHz/24-bit audio files. Awesome.

Pioneer-N50

Why should you be excited, then? Well gadgeteers, both players feature high quality playback of music files, including FLAC and WAV, up to 192 kHz/24 bit. Sweet. But oh, that’s not all.

We’ll get you started with the N-50 which has dual transformers and USB/Optical/Coaxial digital inputs to work alongside the RCA and Optical/Coaxial outputs. Additionally, (and quite fantastically) it can support internet radio and iPod files, so, whatever format it’s in, and no matter how far it’s embedded within the deepest, dankest and darkest corners of your computer’s musical collection, then it’s likely to play for you. It is very good like that. Is there a catch at all? Unfortunately, yes; you do need an additional adapter for wi-fi compatibility… wait… wait… it’ll be okay. Read on and feel comforted by the horse’s mouth… no wait, that’s really not right. Ah yes, feel reassured by some info straight from the source… better.

Technology and Product Information Manager at Pioneer Europe, Philippe Coppens says: “Audiophiles now want to enjoy audio playback from their whole music library as well as online media, in the best possible sound quality. Keeping that in mind, Pioneer’s network audio players were developed to offer a new listening experience, giving access to music files wherever they are stored —PC, NAS, HDD, iPod/iPhone/iPad, or USB— as well as internet radio programmes from around the world.

“For the N-50, we have further integrated asynchronous USB DAC functionality and DSP processing, along with the parts and construction to make sure the requirements of even the most demanding audiophile are met.”

What about the N-30 then? Well, err, dear audiophiles, it’s not quite as good as the slick N-50, but it still does a top-notch job. Yeah, it lacks the dual transformers and digital inputs (excluding AirPlay and DLNA, of course), and the iPod compatibility, but otherwise carries out the same functions as its “big brother” model.

These luscious new Pioneers are available in black now, priced at £349.99 for the N-30 and £499.99 for the N-50.