9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Nice outside; lacking inside.,
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This review is from: Tivoli Audio Model Two AM / FM Radio, Black/Silver Finish (Electronics)
***ORIGINAL REVIEW; SEE UPDATES BELOW***
I ordered the Tivoli Model Two for my parents who still enjoy listening to the radio and prefer 'dial tuning' rather than modern digital tuners. Unfortunately, after getting it set up after Christmas, I discovered no sound was coming from the speaker on the main unit. What a disappointment.
I'm sure I'll give this a further review after Amazon sends me a replacement, as I have heard many good things about Tivoli. In the meantime:
My initial observations:
- It's made in China. Figures that it was dead on arrival. Tivoli, If you're going to pride yourself in being based in Boston, MA, why can't you have your products manufactured where care and precision are taken in the manufacturing process? Especially considering how they charge so much.
- Cheap plastic rear housing. I couldn't believe that the Model Two had plastic rear panels. Again, this kind of quality is something I would expect on a $100 unit.
- Frequency Dial. The dial has a nice smooth feel, but the circular indication plate (behind the dial itself) isn't mounted flush on the unit. There was a sizable gap on the FM side, while the part of the dial on the AM side actually contacts the faceplate and rubs it as it turns. What poor manufacturing/quality control.
- Packaging. The packaging should have clued me in on the quality of the radio itself. Almost no clearance was given between the tuning dial and the box, so if any pressure on the side of the box would put undue stress on the sensitive tuning dial. So dumb. They should leave more clearance or at least turn the main unit so it faces inward, not outward.
- Finish. At least the finish on the wood is nice.
- Sound. The sound coming from the secondary speaker sounded pretty good, but I'll wait to get a replacement before judging the overall sound quality.
I'm disappointed so far. Even if my replacement unit sounds great, I doubt I'll increase my final rating beyond three stars. This thing is not worth the $300 price at all. It might be worth $175 to $200.
A replacement arrived, and for the most part I'm still disappointed. The sound isn't bad for it's size, but the quality of the AM/FM tuner is--in my opinion--poor. Even with a proper antenna, this radio fails to bring stations in with absolute confidence and clarity. Once I've finally dialed in a station to perfection, I'm always afraid that the slightest brush of the tuning dial will undo my tuning efforts. In other words, the dial is overly sensitive, despite being geared down.
The source selector is also very cheap. If I'm listening to FM (or even AM for that matter) and my iPod is still pumping music into the AUX input, I can still faintly hear the iPod music. This isn't acceptable. Why can't they isolate the inputs?
The tuner also doesn't filter out heterodyning frequencies properly. The resulting sound is difficult to describe, but it's distracting and takes away from what you're trying to listen to.
Based on the mediocre performance, I'm led to assume Tivoli dressed up some cheap components (and poor electrical engineering) in a pretty enclosure. It looks good and sounds decent, but where I expect it to shine, it disappoints.
Alright, so I'm upgrading the rating to three stars (originally 2). The upgrade comes from the fact that I ordered a THIRD radio, and as they say, 'third time's the charm'.
I'm still not convinced, however, that this thing is worth the $300 price it commands. The third unit is noticeably better in terms of input isolation and FM/AM clarity and tuning (see 2012 update above). Nevertheless, I still think the manufacturing, materials, and build quality are fitting for a $100- $150 unit. It is also concerning that it took 3 tries to get a radio that actually does what I bought it for in the first place. If you're spending $300 on a radio, you're probably doing so because you either like how it looks, or you're discerning enough to want something that exudes quality. After all, 'they don't make them like they used to' anymore, now do they? This adage certainly holds true with this radio.
All in all, it is good. That's all. Not great. Not amazing. Just good. If you can afford it and you're buying for looks, I say go for it. If you're buying it because you want a well-made radio that doesn't make sacrifices, look elsewhere.