Monday, December 13, 2010

Arcam rCube What Hi-fi Sound & Vision 2010 Award Winner for iPod Docks

Congratulations Arcam rCube for winning iPod Docks Product of the Year, Awards 2010!

The award-winning Arcam rCube uses Kleer wireless audio technology to stream your tunes wirelessly when you want to (note, sad to say, the dongles currently cost extra). Otherwise, pop your compatible iPod/iPhone into the dock and control your tunes from it or the remote.

View pricing of the ARCAM rCUBE portable speaker on Amazon UK >>
Here's some images:
iPhone docked in the Arcam rCube

Detail of the Arcam rCube

Arcam rCube remote and speaker
Arcam rCube remote
Arcam rWand Dongle, connects to compatible iPod/iPhone, transmits audio wirelessly using Kleer wireless audio technology to rCube speaker
Arcam rWave Dongle, USB connection to your laptop, streams audio wirelessly using Kleer wireless audio technology to your rCube speaker(s) 

"At first glance, Arcam’s new rCube doesn’t seem like much of a B&W Zeppelin-challenger. At 20cm cubed, it looks almost frivolously small in this assembled company but, as every sensible person knows, size isn’t everything.

Besides, note the price – if that doesn’t put it straight into Zeppelin territory we don’t know what does.

It may have taken Arcam a little while to clamber aboard the speaker/dock bandwagon, but the company’s put that time to good use – the rCube is a thoroughly thought-out device.

On the top, beneath a flush-fitting flap, is the iPod dock (when the dock’s unoccupied the flap serves to reveal a carry-handle – this is a portable device), and some touch-sensitive controls.
Portable iPod powerAt the bottom there are four concealed screws – unscrew these to remove the baseplate and access the pre-installed Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery.

And positioned at the rear is a 3.5mm input, composite video output, component video output (which rather meanly requires a bespoke, extra-cost adaptor), a USB input (for firmware upgrades only) and a power switch.

Oh, and there’s an innocuous-looking button marked ‘bass’. Arcam believes the rCube sounds best placed in the corner of a room, angled at 45 degrees.

Such positioning allows the opposed, side-mounted mid/bass drivers to reflect off the walls  –– if the rCube is sat in open space, give the bass button a push to reinforce those low frequencies. In any event, the rCube can’t be obstructed on either side.

An optional USB transmitter
As well as dealing with docked Apples, the Arcam can stream PC-borne music wirelessly using an optional USB transmitter, or directly from an iPod/iPhone using a Kleer dongle. 

And one rCube can both send and receive to/from a second rCube, so you can establish a multi-zone network with little fuss.

It’s just as well, after that preamble, that the rCube is a fine-sounding device. The proximity of the drivers means it doesn’t so much deliver a soundstage as an omni-directional presentation, but within that it’s mightily impressive.

Whether listening to a 256kbps copy of Elton John’s Take Me to the Pilot or a 1411kbps WAV file of Missy Elliot’s Get Ur Freak On, it’s a clean, balanced and above all informative listen.

Flawless frequency integration

Low frequencies don’t have the outright extension of some rivals, but bass is taut, controlled and nuanced, while the midrange is full of detail. Integration with the open, crisp high frequencies is flawless.

Timing, too, is natural and unforced, so there’s a rare unity to the rCube’s sound. It snaps through dynamic peaks with positivity and deals with the toughest tempos dismissively.

Complex or muddy mixes are confidently unpicked, and the Arcam can turn its hand from a massed orchestral assault to a single-voice-with-guitar without breaking sweat.

In short, it’s everything you want from an iPod speaker dock."

And, Kleer wireless audio technology is built into the rCube, meaning it will pair with Kleer-based headphones/earbuds, such as the DigiFi Opera S2, Opera S5 wireless earbuds, TDK WR700 wireless headphones, or the Sennheiser RS 160, RS 170, or RS 180 wireless headphones.

Only issue is that the rWand and rWave dongles cost extra.

But the good news is that the rWand and rWave use Kleer wireless audio technology. Which means that the dongles stream uncompressed, lossless, CD-quality, digital stereo audio. And that works very well with the Arcam rCube's high fidelity sound system where it makes a difference.

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