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Event report

Sound and Vision logo


Pure Special Edition 99GBP tuner - now sold outModel One finishes                      Bristol Sound and Vision 2002
22nd - 24th February 2002

I had high expectations at this year's Bristol Sound and Vision show of spotting some brand new DAB digital radio products, but apart from Videologic's sterling effort with a whole host of radios you could buy there and then, things seemed very quiet from other manufacturers.

" ... awareness of digital radio has increased significantly and ... people are now - more than ever - ready to buy "

Videologic's 'take' on the matter is that awareness of digital radio has increased significantly and that people are now - more than ever - ready to buy. Certainly the interest in digital radio at the Videologic stand was more brisk than at last year's show. The enthusiasm shown to its products from members of the public was heartening. The Sony camp was more conservative, arguing that few people knew about DAB digital radio, compared with the embrace of DVD technology over VHS. No argument there.

Kitchen Dab radio DRX-601EX

Videologic were proudly showing off their 'Pure'-branded kitchen DAB radio - the DRX-601EX - available now in a small selection of veneered finishes. The tuner couldn't compete against the main listening set-up of the award-winning DRX-601ES in terms of power and volume, but it did sound very good, helped by two large (90mm) drive units housed within the radio cabinet. The speakers make the unit surprisingly heavy to carry; nevertheless portable, it does require mains power to operate.

" I swooned at the fact that they could get decent reception from the BBC multiplex "

Videologic had a single DAB aerial hooked up to all 7 of its systems, which gave very good signal levels at the Marriott hotel in Bristol city centre. I swooned at the fact that they could get decent reception from the BBC multiplex, although their stand had a height advantage over listeners' front rooms, situated as it was on the third floor.

" Videologic should be congratulated for producing a minor miracle "

The Kitchen tuner is fitted with its own telescopic antenna and features optical and electrical digital outputs alongside the more common phono input and output jacks. The output from a CD player can be fed through the radio, while recordings can be made by hooking the radio up to a tape deck or minidisc recorder.

At 500, the unit isn't cheap, but at least it's not a 'closed-box' system. It also represents the first portable digital radio on the market and, as such, Videologic should be congratulated for producing a minor miracle.

DRX-601ESM

The designers didn't stop there. They have also come up with a variation of the What HI*FI? award-winning DRX-601ES tuner. The DRX-601ESM is a mini-sized version of the former - only its looks are on the smaller scale. It sounds just as confident as its bigger brother and is remarkably cute, wowing the crowd with its bright blue display and novel blue LEDs.

Videologic DRZ-601E/S midi tuners

Fed into decent powered speakers, the tuner makes for an engaging listen. Station selection seems quirky, with stations appearing in no discernable order when turning the dial, but this and the fact that there are still only 9 presets for storing favourites are the only minor niggles. At 329 (299 at the show, 239 from Purple Radio for a limited time), the tuner isn't exactly going to be walking off the shelves, but its looks do at least match the price tag.

Videologic are also working with Command Audio to produce useful add-ons to their tuners, which will allow, amongst other things, recording of programmes (a version of TiVo for radio) and access to other data services. They also had one of the GBP 99 Special Edition portable radios on show - apparently having to wrestle some back from the shops for their own office.

" I did begin to wonder ... how much interest [Sony] were expecting to generate in a tuner that wasn't operational "

Sony's DAB digital radio model, currently the ST-D777ES DAB tuner, was missing an aerial, so could not be heard in situ. Last year, it took centre stage at their stand; this year, it blended in with the rest of their ES range. I did begin to wonder how many tuners Sony were expecting to shift, or how much interest they were expecting to generate in a tuner that wasn't operational. The price tag at the show was a whopping 630.

TAGMcLaren AvantGarde DPA32Rdab

TAGMclaren were well represented at the show. Their AvantGarde T32RDAB is an add-on unit to their (and I use the term loosely, here) 'basic' chassis. The electronics behind the TAG have been designed and supplied by Bosch. As the DAB module is separate to the FM/MW/LW add-on, you can have either or both as your wallet dictates. Bearing in mind we're talking about thousands of pounds here, the TAGMclaren must surely rate as the best DAB tuner in the world.

With my Joe Public hat on, I would like to have heard the tuner in action, but although the DAB add-on was powered up and seemed to be receiving BBC Radio Bristol, there was no means of listening to the T32R. A shame, since I'm not going to waste the time of some salesperson at Audio Excellence just to confirm that the tuner sounds excellent. It's also eminently upgradeable and future-proofed to allow L-band reception. Another missed opportunity for a demo, however.

Tivoli Model One table radio

" ... the Model One handles distant stations like reeling in a minnow "

The radio that really caught my eye this year was devoid of DAB and any new digital technical wizardry. In fact, the standalone box couldn't even produce stereo, yet it managed to produce an amazingly solid sound for its size.

The Tivoli Model One table radio uses a state-of-the-art GaAs MES-FET mixer, according to the technical blurb, and has a built-in ported speaker driver (the port is on the underside of the unit to give increased bass response wherever the radio sits). The technology has never been used before in any tuner, and it means that the Model One handles distant stations like reeling in a minnow.

It can pick up both AM and FM, has a 5:1 geared tuning dial, an external aerial jack as well as its internal (hidden, unobtrusive) aerial and a mono 3.5mm headphone jack. The radio sucks in signal from its internal aerial as if there is no tomorrow, producing a really clean sound from such a small machine. It even allows you to attach a portable CD player.

The radio wouldn't look out of place on a narrow boat, its Classic Walnut finish option looking very functional but quirky and retro. It stands only four paperbacks tall. If the finish isn't to your liking, choose Hunter Maple, Cobalt Cherry or the more space age Silver White. I wanted one, out of pure curiosity, but the wallet said no. And I don't own a boat, so I'm probably not the best person to buy one.

" In a sea of eponymous Black Boxes, the Model One stands out from the crowd "

In a sea of eponymous Black Boxes, the Model One stands out from the crowd. Sure, it doesn't have the last word in sound quality - it can't even produce stereo - but it did raise a smile or two for its design originality.

Sound and Vision 2002 was a good show, although this year Digital One dispensed with their stand to attend with Videologic. It would have been nice to see some prototype radios, but this was probably wishful thinking.

Related links:
Sony and Videologic home tuner reviews, on this website
Bristol Sound and Vision show website
Videologic website
TAGMcLaren website
Sony website
Ruark Tivoli website, UK distributors of the Tivilo Audio Model One radio

Comments and corrections regarding this article can be e-mailed to theeditor.

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