brian on 2007.08.14
at 02:42 am
We’ve been considering purchasing a Tivoli Model One table radio for our kitchen for a couple months now. We often listen to NPR in the morning as we get ready and I eat breakfast in the kitchen next to an old clock radio that we keep there. Amanda will often pop it on in the afternoon when she comes home from work, while she’s going through the mail or cleaning or what have you. We’ve been thinking that it would be a nice upgrade for us.
If you’re uninitiated, the Tivoli table radio is a famous little radio in the home electronics world. It’s intentionally quirky and of unusually high quality – both marks of its creator, Henry Kloss. The model one is Tivoli’s most popular product1 and is simply a mono (one speaker) AM/FM tuner. But it’s one speaker is rich, it’s hand-made, quality, hardwood body encloses one of the world’s finest analog tuning circuits (MESFET), with an weighted analog dial for precisely tuning stations.
We were just about to purchase one when they announced a new version, one that incorporates Internet Radio via WiFi!
In addition to accessing AM and FM stations via a wireless broadband or wifi Internet connection, NetWorks connects to thousands of free radio stations worldwide. Internet radio can even receive many HD multi-cast and DAB stations, previously only available from expensive HD or dedicated DAB receivers. A traditional FM tuner with RDS data (where available) provides continual service when Internet service is unavailable. NetWorks even has the ability to stream music files from any computer via an Ethernet or wifi connection.
NetWorks is compatible with all popular music formats, including MP3, WMA, and Real Audio. Also included is a USB input to connect a compatible MP3 player or memory stick. Additional features include a digital clock, dual independent alarms with sleep timer and snooze function, compact remote control, and easy-to-read four line by 16 character back-lighted display.
It apparently can handle podcasts as well, but sorely neglects AAC and AACplus formats. The former, popular for being the format of choice of compression in Apple’s iTunes software, as well as the format of choice in the iTunes store (recall you can now purchase DRM-free music at iTunes). Many podcasts are in AAC format. Also, a popular new streaming music format is AACplus which boasts similar improvements over streaming MP3, better perceived sound quality at lower bitrates, as AAC does over MP32. Big internet broadcasters like AOL and influential webcasters like SOMA FM have been using these for a while now. And yet Tivoli includes WMA as a compatible format… which I’ve found to be just slightly less crummy than Real Audio which is also included.
Of course, even if I wanted to buy one today, I couldn’t. Tivoli has not released a final ship date, or even a price. Which to me says “it’ll be $400.” And that’s too much. $299 would be the absolute most I’d pay for that. For $400 I could buy a whole computer and add-on speakers.
David Pogue’s story in the New York Times brought to my attention a new crop of stand-alone, internet-enabled radios. The Tivoli had high marks for quality and sound, but took a hard hit on “software.” (technically, his review was of another Tivoli, the NetWorks Go). None of the entrants are as classy as the Tivoli NetWorks, though.
So I will buy a Model One as originally planned, but I won’t miss out on Internet entertainment. This past weekend was sales-tax-free weekend in Massachusetts and a good friend hooked me up with an employee discount on a new Apple Mac Mini to be used in my entertainment center. I already have the DVI-HDMI cable hooked to my HDTV (affordably, thanks to monoprice.com), and an optical audio cable ready for the Pro Logic receiver. And as soon as it ships, I’ll control it from one of these amazing new bluetooth Apple Keyboards.
Gadget, Internet and audio geeks rejoice in harmony!
1 I have no statistics to back this up. Pure speculation based on lore.
2 HE-AAC (High Efficiency AAC) Oddly enough, iTunes does not support AACplus streams either. One of my last bones to pick with the otherwise excellent jukebox.
Hank Zimmerman said on 2007.08.16 at 11:55 am
You might also look into the Roku Soundbridge and the Slim Devices Squeezebox.
Both need external speakers, but seem to be close enough to what you want. I believe the Soundbridge can even stream from iTunes, which is definitely nice.
(Look like your comments do not allow for HTML, so here are some links:
One day I will have to post my ideas on getting a Mac Mini into our home theater system.
brian said on 2007.08.16 at 02:31 pm
Those are sweet systems, but I’m not going to need them now since I’ll have FrontRow hooked up through my receiver and HDTV :-)
brian said on 2007.08.27 at 09:52 am
Today I finally got around to buying a classic Model One . Hope to see it this week! And I should see my Mac mini today!
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