BLUETOOTH RADIOS / TIVOLI AUDIO MODEL ONE BT AM/FM RADIO
Type AM/FM analogue mono table radio with Bluetooth wireless technology
Driver 1x 76.2 mm (3-inch) full-range driver
Power Output 25 watts
Dimensions 21.3 cm x 11.4 cm x 13.3 cm (WxHxD)
Weight 1.88 kg
Connections External FM, external AM, headphone out, aux in, rec out
PRICE R2 500.00
SUPPLIED BY Balanced Audio 011-259-7850
Upon receiving the Model One BT for review, I must admit that my first thought was, “Who on earth still buys a radio in this day and age?” Even my dear old mom (who’s turning 82 soon) uses an MP3 player and collection of USB flash drives to pass time with her favourite tunes. This initial impression was quickly tempered by the realisation that my wife and I listen to radio stations most of the day, albeit by streaming them across a series of Apple Home Pods scattered throughout the house. I have grown accustomed to this background accompaniment to our daily activities, and radio provides an easy alternative to having to select something.
So, I reconsidered the Tivoli Model One from a fresh perspective. A desktop streaming device allowing you to listen to a multitude of free streaming services, giving access to news, entertainment, and music whilst not using a single byte of data. Using radio waves to transmit music! How clever is that? Even tech-hardened millennials would be impressed!
Armed with a new appreciation for the technical wonder of radio, I started putting the Model One BT through its paces. Removing it from its box, the unit has a nice heft to it which leaves the suggestion of solid built quality. And yet at 21 cm wide by 11 cm high it won’t take up too much space on your desk. The Model One BT appearance is reminiscent of Scandinavian design, with a combination of wood elements and functional simplicity, which I thought was very well done. The unit is very attractive with a wood cabinet and only three knobs on its face: volume, function selection, and tuning.
The extra length power cord at 2.7 m allowed me more freedom to place to Model One where I wanted without having to fiddle to be near a plug point. This is the sort of design foresight that I appreciate and is a simple element, which for me, could differentiate one product from another.
Setting up the Model One could not be simpler. No apps to download, no Wi-Fi connections to struggle with, no accounts to be created. Just plug it in, switch it on, turn the big knob to find a station and away you go! I can’t imagine the Tivoli Technical Support desk being very busy. The control knobs felt smooth and solid, confirming my initial impression of build quality.
Another design element that appealed to me is the differential rotation between the tuning knob and the radio frequency selection, which not only looked great but allowed for fine tuning without having to master micro-degrees of rotation. This made it exceptionally easy to quickly tune into interference-free reception of one of Joburg’s hottest known radio stations.
I found the sound quality to be clear with more presence and base than I would have expected from such a diminutive unit. To test whether this impression was warranted, I dug our radio (a Grundig RP4900) out from the storeroom and set it up next to the Tivoli. It was, to say the least, a somewhat unfair contest. The Tivoli was far easier to tune, could clearly access far more stations without any interference and had far superior sound quality. Admittedly, not exactly statistically representative, but at least shoring up my distant recollection of what radio quality normally sounds like.
The Tivoli Model One BT had another trick up its sleeve, with the ‘BT’ indicating that it can also be used as a Bluetooth speaker. Streaming to the unit from my iPhone was straightforward and did not require pairing with the unit. The unit performed well as a Bluetooth speaker, with no signal loss or interruptions. Sound clarity and quality were somewhat improved as compared to radio, with the slight improvement attesting to the excellent radio reception of the Model One.
Extended use of the Tivoli between radio and BT did however show a quirk, which I thought worth mentioning. When listening to the radio, the effective range of the volume button is only in the first 25% of its range. Dialing the volume any higher than this is uncomfortably loud, distorted and could seriously impact on any workplace harmony. On Bluetooth however, the volume range used is far higher and the manual even indicates that the volume button should be at 25% to start using Bluetooth. I therefore ended up micro-tuning the volume button and had to remember to turn the volume down when switching from Bluetooth to radio. Forgetting to do so resulted in a volume blast that reverberated through the studio whilst I frantically groped for the volume button.
After two weeks of listening companionship with the Tivoli Model One BT adding to the aesthetics of my desk, I will be somewhat sad to bid it farewell. It is attractive, has great radio reception and good sound quality. Retailing for approximately R2 500.00, I consider that commensurate value for money in terms of its design, build quality and performance. Should you be in the market for a stylish yet unobtrusive music companion in your work or leisure space? The Tivoli Model One BT could be the solution you’ve been searching for.