Sugg. Retail: $449.95 CAD
In Canada these days, we see jurisdictional battles between on-air broadcasters and specialty-channel carriers like cable and satellite, with the traditional former crowd now screaming for carriage fees when their signals are re-broadcast on such services as Rogers cable or XpressVu and Star Choice satellite distribution systems. Of course, the cable and satellite folks claim they are doing the broadcasters a favour, and don’t want to ante up any dough at this time just because conventional broadcasting is suffering advertising losses because of the recession. Whatever happened to the truism that a TV (or radio) channel was a license to print money?
It is in this climate of bickering that I look at the newest radio phenomenon: universal internet broadcasting, which allows anyone with a high speed internet connection to access thousands of radio stations from all over the world. These stations aren’t demanding fees from the internet receiver makers, but welcome this increased exposure for their programming. A bit of a paradox, but we live in paradoxical times, when cars rule the economy, and wired reception has largely replaced off-air in a general sense, at least in urban areas.
One other paradox drawn from this is that local broadcasters are finding it difficult to identify themselves in the increasing clutter of the “netwaves”, while the airwaves are starting a process of depopulation, with the shutdown of VHF TV stations in June of this year in the US. I can see the AM radio band disappearing soon, too, so local radio is definitely going through a major change of life along with TV.
With those observations, we come to another internet radio from the British company, Tangent, the Quattro Mk II. Encased in a choice of finishes in a wraparound wood cabinet (Black Ash, Walnut, or high gloss in red, white and black at a slightly higher price), the Quattro is stylish and compact, with its 3″ driver on cabinet top. Our review sample came in the very attractive Walnut veneer.
Large knobs at left and right front panel control Volume and Tuning, respectively. Between them are 10 buttons which allow such functions as browsing, shuffling, alarm setting, as well as 6 presets for FM or internet stations. A Select button is found on its own at right front panel, as is the Power one at left. The front panel LED display shows station information and bandwidth data (bits per second), as well as being a digital clock when the radio is off. The rear panel offers a collapsible whip FM antenna, plus audio in/out miniplug jacks for Line, Aux, and Headphone, along with the Ethernet connection. The Quattro will also operate from wireless routers (once the necessary privacy protocols are followed) over a 30-meter range. The radio uses the Reciva internet radio technology.
Using the Quattro is a hands-on experience, since it has no remote control, but one gets used to that. And with all the presets, favourite stations can be quickly accessed. Tuning requires a fair bit of button pressing, along with the Tuning knob’s rotation to select individual genres, locations, and stations. Once you get the drill, it’s quite easy and quick. I found the best way is to use Genre, though the radio formats are not any more predictable than a station’s programming at any given time.
The FM section is pretty basic, but brought in Toronto and area signals with the whip antenna extended. You can also access music in your computer, as well as podcasts. The Quattro is a quite versatile way of organizing your listening, locally and worldwide, as well as providing access to podcasts from various online and computer sources.
Sound quality was quite good for a mono source, with limited bass that can be enhanced by mounting in a shelf so the rear port has a surface to propagate against. It is a radio, not a tuner in the high fidelity sense, and very good for that in terms of operational flexibility, and provided a warm and highly intelligible audio signal. The Tangent Quattro II fits right in with the radio and compact systems available from such names as Tivoli and KLH, and adds Tangent’s own style and substance. If you are attracted by these qualities, as well as its reception and audio quality, take a good look at the Tangent Quattro II internet radio.
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