A worthwhile jack-of-all-trades?
Tivoli Audio is a company that specializes in radio and hifi products. Their biggest distinguishing factor is that all of their products are designed in house and made at their factory as well, allowing “exceptional quality control”. Today I’ll be looking at Tivoli Audio NetWorks.
Looking at the Tivoli NetWorks, you wouldn’t think that there’s so much tech inside that simple looking hardwood cabinet. The main speaker houses the main control panel and the myriad of input/output ports at the rear and bottom. The front houses the blue LCD panel whereas the top houses the volume/mute/snooze dial knob.
The whole idea behind the NetWorks was to provide radio from around the world, not only local FM radio and expansion through your MP3 player. As such, all of the ports in the NetWorks are designed to complement the system and enhance your experience. In addition to connecting your PC/MP3/CD player via the line-in, you can listen to FM radio as well as internet radio. The latter can be heard either through an Ethernet cable, or over-the-air via Wi-Fi (hence the name). It’s important to note here that the Tivoli Audio NetWorks are actually available in mono and stereo models. The extra speaker on the left (or right) can be purchased in a set, i.e. in addition to the main speaker that houses the controls. Dubai Audio Center actually sells the NetWorks in pairs. The last bit I want to add here is that if you want additional bass, the NetWorks also has a subwoofer output for you to have a complete 2.1 setup should you want one.
A quick note on the remote control provided with the Tivoli NetWorks, the buttons on this are atrocious. After 2 minutes of use my thumb started aching. It just feels like a cheap afterthought compared to the well-engineered NetWorks speakers themselves. It’s a shame too, considering that most of the time you’ll be using the mini remote control itself to surf through the channels and whatnot. Especially given the fact that you can only store 5 preset channels, this becomes even more of a chore.
Moving along, the biggest selling point of the Tivoli Audio NetWorks is its ability to play internet radio over Wi-Fi. So the first thing I did was connect it to my home Wi-Fi, which is an 8mb connection from Du. The high quality stations were running at 128kbps, while standard stations (the majority of them) were running at 96kbps, and all of them took about 4 to 5 seconds to startup and then play uninterrupted.