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Arcam rCube Portable Speaker System for iPod And iPhone
- Multiple streaming to up to four rCubes
- Built-in iPod/iPhone dock with charging
- Long-playing rechargable Lithium ion battery
- Composite video connection for portable iPod/iPhone
- Integrated carrying handle
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"The World's Best Ipod/Iphone Speaker Dock" Arcam's rCube is a listening revolution, delivering high fidelity from a single, beautiful package that's portable and has wireless audio streaming. The rCube offers amazing sound from a cube smaller than a football. It's powerful enough for a party, but engineered to deliver exceptional clarity even at low volume. It uses cutting-edge technology and manufacturing excellence, as you'd expect from Arcam. The rCube has "everything you would want from an iPod speaker dock," raves England's What Hi-Fi? magazine, which honored the rCube with "Product of the Year" status for 2010. TrustedReviews.com calls the rCube "the world's best iPod/iPhone speaker dock." Small in Size but Big in Sound The rCube is unique among iPod speakers. It is designed to be small in size but big in sound. Side-firing full range drivers create a spacious sound from a small unit. The woofers deliver a hearty 35 watts-per-channel, while the tweeters deliver a beautiful 10 watts-per-channel. That adds up to 90 big watts of total system power to easily fill a room with glorious Arcam sound. The rCube can stream music wirelessly, too. With its integral battery and using an optional wireless transmitter, the rCube can wirelessly receive music from your PC or iPod, enabling you to bring music anywhere you like in the home. And any rCube can wirelessly stream music to another rCube in the same vicinity, sharing music simultaneously with other rooms in a house.
Top Customer Reviews
But I realized that due to convenience and the need to temper my listening volume around my family, I ended up using my portable MP3 audio player the most. So I decided to upgrade to something that would have good sound quality. Specifically I was looking for something that would sound good at low volumes but wouldn't distort at high volumes, that had a nice design and bonuses for portability and wireless play although the latter two were not essential. I researched the B&W Zeppelin, Bose Sounddock 10 and the Harman Kardan Go+Play along with the rCube. Besides the rCube, the Zeppelin was my second choice. I liked the design and the airplay features of the zeppelin and I'm sure it would sound great. The HK Go+Play has the best design and it is portable but didn't have a rechargeable battery, which would be a pain. Based on reviews, the Bose Sounddock's best feature seemed to be a loud bass. Although I listen to a fair amount of electronic music that has prominent bass, I like a more subtle, blended bass. I have listened to many fancy, expensive soundsystems in cars and living rooms and I find that most of them are unbalanced in terms of boomy, testosterone-driven out of place bass. Ultimately I was driven to buy the rCube predominantly for the rechargeable battery and wireless play, something that wasn't present in the H+K and was annoyingly placed in the ipod dock of the Bose Sounddock. The uncertainty with the rCube was the sound quality.
I liked a lot about the rCube including the design, the ease of portability, the dock, the battery and sound quality. I notice absolutely no difference in sound quality when plugged in versus battery only. I thoroughly tested this by getting high, really getting in to a certain song's groove at high volume, and then unplugging it...No sound difference whatsoever. The battery appears to last a long time, I haven't had the problem with battery that others listed. Boy does it get loud. It's not 'whole-house-party loud but you can hear it at decent 'cocktail-party-levels' in the next room and in the same room, the sound is powerful, beautiful and crystal clear. Not excessively loud though, I have to wheel my ipod up to about an 8.5 out of 11 in volume for it to get real loud but each step to 11 boosts the sound volume a lot. I have a range of musical tastes from Jazz (Mingus, Monk) to indie rock (Sonic Youth, Sufjan Stephens) to folk (Iron and Wine, Joanna Newsome) to ambient (Brian Eno, Stars of the Lid) to electronic (Burial, Autechre). The rCube sounds good with all these types of music. The rCube sounds very good at low volumes too, which was important for everyday listening around my family but I could turn it up to uncomfortable volumes and the sound never wavered. The sound is well mixed with the full range of frequencies represented clearly. The placement of the speakers on the side does allow a wide distribution to the sound and it often sounds like the horn section of a song for instance will be coming from the corners of the room. Surprisingly, the bass is prominent in this small, portable device but not annoyingly so which I prefer. The design is really cool too. I love the handle and can carry this cube like an old-school boombox. It definitely turns heads when I walk in to a room carrying this sound machine. Overall I am very satisfied with this device, one of the best purchases I have ever made.
But I'll focus on the things I was disappointed in so you know the limitations. The wireless feature is designed poorly. There are two ways to connect, the Arcam rWand, a dongle for the iphone/ipod which allows wireless control; additionally the Arcam rWave can supplement this product, by connecting to your home computer. The former allows your ipod/iphone to control/play the music and the latter allows your extensive computer library to play over the Arcam rCube. These products are all below the product description for this item. The ipod dongle rWand connection type is less than ideal. I don't want to have a dongle connected to my ipod/iphone that would be cumbersome on my iphone or not allow me to charge my battery on my ipod. I opted for the USB dongle (rWave), although I will probably buy the iphone/ipod connector too. The USB dongle works perfectly but I have to manually go to my computer and change the audio output from the soundcard to the USB dongle. I can't control the music with simply my iphone as a remote like I can with the appleTV, instead I have to go to my computer and change the settings first. Neither option allows instant access, although with all my griping these wireless options are still quite convenient.
Pros: Great subtle design, wireless play, good rechargeable batteries, great sound when unplugged, convenient portability, refined, well-blended and spacious sound.
Cons: Wireless play is not as convenient as Airplay devices or AppleTV.
Update: A software called Virtual Audio Cable will allow you to output a single audio source to multiple outputs. Therefore I can play music on my computer and to the Arcam rCube. This is enough to upgrade the device to 5 stars.
Update2 (in response to a question): Virtual Audio Cable is not an actual cable but a piece of software for the computer. Windows 7 only allows you to output one audio source at the same time. The Arcam rCube rWand requires you to choose it's own software as the audio output, rather than the computer's own output to the computer speakers. Therefore, in essence if you regularly listen to music on your computer speakers and the Arcam rCube, you have to manually change the settings on the computer. In essence, switching the audio cables between a mixer with only one audio out. Virtual Audio Cable is like a mixer, that allows multiple outputs at the same time. Unfortunately the software is quite finicky and a pain the butt to use, I can't really recommend it. But this is really a minor gripe, as getting off my butt, going to the computer and changing the audio output to the rCube is not that much of a pain.
After more online research, I bought a Philips Fidelio DS9/37. It was only $295 and sounded far better than the rCube. Tighter, more muscular base, but not excessive. Excellent midrange and highs. Quality sound, not some boombox type. No defects at all so far. I suspect that many people have returned rcubes and this may explained why so many refurbished sets are on ebay. Arcam must be such a small company that they have not understood quality control.
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