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  Tivoli Audio Networks Radio with FM - Internet Radio in Style & Stereo

      Date posted: September 11, 2009

Tivoli Networks System
Tivoli Networks Radio with FM and matching right-channel speaker

Sugg. Retail: Radio $699.95CAD; Speaker $120.00CAD (as advertised by Bay Bloor Radio, Toronto)

Distributor: Lenbrook Industries, www.lenbrook.com/tivoli_audio

Manufacturer: Tivoli Audio LLC, www.tivoliaudio.com

We’ve reviewed several Tivoli products in the past, and always been impressed at their style and substance in terms of performance. Well, there’s no letdown here in this attractive, well engineered package. The Networks Radio is more than just that, a small audio system that offers a built-in Wi-Fi capability that allows you to tap into your computer’s music and podcast files. It also has wired ethernet, USB computer access, and AUX analog audio inputs, plus another “Mix In” that allows combining your computer audio output with any other input; I’m not sure why this is provided, but I’m sure some users will find a way to employ it. Computer Karaoke perhaps?

The Networks has only 5 presets, but also allows compiling a Favourites list that can store up to 200 internet stations. Outputs include a record out, and a sub out for the matching Tivoli subwoofer (not supplied for review). A small remote control allows full operation of the Networks system, which can be ordered with or without FM (more on this below), and in mono or stereo configuration, with possible upgrade from the former to the latter.

A feature unique (in our experience of three internet radios) is the Tivoli Superbuffer for fighting audio dropouts, one annoyance of internet radio. Unfortunately, these seem to occur more with higher bitrate stations, and are more frequent when one is working on a computer on the same ethernet connection. The Superbuffer slows loading time because of its 4-times-greater buffering, but it does seem to minimize these dropouts. Another feature is a set of EQ settings, such as Classical, Rock, and so on. These are quite subtle in their effects, but can provide a little more bass in some cases.
Tivoli Radio Stereo Speaker
Like all Tivoli  products with veneer finishes, the Networks cabinets are sleekly finished in matte veneer (Cherry, Walnut), and also in a finish called Wenge that appears to be a glossy dark brown. The Networks is also a clock radio, with dual alarm with a 7-minute snooze feature. It may not make your coffee, but it helps get you there. There is also a tap-and-turn manual control on the radio’s top that controls on/off and volume, while also able to activate the Snooze feature.

Technical specifications are sparse, telling us that the drivers are “3.5″ full range magnetically shielded”, and that the wi-fi radio band is “2412-2462Mhz”, and that its “Type” is an “Internet radio/FM RDS table radio”, and that the file formats it handles digitally are “WMA, Real Audio (Version 6)” and “MP3″.

There’s a telescoping FM antenna on the upper rear of the radio’s cabinet that looks as if it could be removed to allow connection of a coaxial cable to an outdoor aerial. Because the antenna’s base is recessed, I did not do so, because I feared damaging the connector or the case. Tested with the attached antenna, the FM tuner did not fare well in our downstairs studio. I didn’t even do a station count, since there were no signals on the FM dial (with the attached antenna fully extended) that offered anything more than noisy stereo. It must be a really cheap FM chip, because even a car stereo digital radio chip will provide much better performance. My advice is to buy the version of the Networks without FM.

Internet radio was a different story, the sound quality easily the best of those we have so far reviewed. I’ve talked in the past about internet radio being bitrate and sampling-rate starved, but with a decent 256 kbps signal like AVRO Baroque, it can sound pretty good on this radio. The higher frequencies of music are very open and sweet, while imaging is exceptional in nearfield listening, this being a result of the small single driver setup. Since the two drivers are point sources they present a wonderful miniature soundstage.

Bass is limited, but in a bookshelf this should be enhanced because of the system’s rear porting. The midrange from the Networks is, in a word, lucid, enough so that I would recommend this small stereo system for its fidelity as well as its functionality, especially with the optional (or any other good) subwoofer. The output is there, so use it! It will play at quite high levels, though the usual limits apply for driver size and amplifier power, which is unspecified.
Tivoli Radio
The great bargain in internet radios remains the Sanyo R227, but this Tivoli is a more complete system, and beautifully put together and finished: Internet radio in superb stereo, with serious performance, and a lot of style.

Andrew Marshall

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