It’s been seventeen years since Tivoli Audio introduced its impressive retro-styled tabletop radio the Model One and now the Boston-based company is stepping into the streaming age with the Model One Digital. Like its predecessor, the Model One Digital touts a sleek vintage aesthetic, but unlike the former, Tivoli’s latest effort features wireless technology. In fact, the Model One Digital has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity options allowing you to enjoy music from Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and more. The Model One Digital, which debuted in March, also features a high-resolution screen, DAB, and of course, an FM radio. Along with all the upgrades comes an upgraded price tag. Tivoli’s new model checks in at triple the price of the original Model One. Is it worth the $300 price tag? Keep reading to find out.
As is true with all of Tivoli’s products the first thing that stands out with Model One Digital is its design. Even more minimalistic than its predecessor, the Model One Digital features just two knobs and the company’s logo on the faceplate. The unit is encased in an attractive and well-constructed wood cabinet, which comes in three finishes: black, white, and walnut. Any of the three options are likely to spruce up your home aesthetics, but the walnut casing with the gray faceplate is definitely the most visually pleasing.
The unit features just two buttons: a small power button, which also adjusts volume and the MOD Bezel, a larger multi-functional dial. Having just two buttons is not only aesthetically pleasing but is also simplistic and makes the device easier to use. At the center of the MOD Bezel is a monochromatic digital display. The display looks a little out of step for 2017 and looks more akin to what you would have seen on an older MP3 device. That said, it serves it purpose and doesn’t pose anything substantive issues. Also, I personally prefer Tivoli’s monochromatic display over color displays used by other companies.
The back of the unit contains an aux in port, a connection for a 15-volt power supply, an FM antenna, and two buttons: Setup and Party Mode. The latter allows you to join multiple devices to play the same music. The Model One Digital can connect to Tivoli’s ART line of speakers, which are available here.
Ease of Use
Now we get to the wi-fi connectivity, which is the main attraction of the new Model One Digital. It was not difficult to set up the wi-fi connection, but it wasn’t easy either. It’s a nine-step process, which involves downloading the Tivoli app on your smartphone, connecting to your home wi-fi, and configuring the device. I myself performed the iOS setup and wanted to establish a connection between the Model One Digital and the Spotify app on my phone. It’s worth noting that you need a Spotify Premium account to perform this function.
I managed to connect on my first attempt and it took under 10 minutes. That said, when I turned off the Model One Digital and turned it on later in the day, I was unable to connect to Spotify and had to redo entire process. I only had to repeat the process that one time; it connected successfully each subsequent occasion.
As far as streaming services, I only tested Spotify and it was easy to use. You can select tracks and adjust the volume via your mobile device or the Model One Digital. In addition to streaming services, the Model One Digital also allows you to play local files from your phone. By using the Tivoli app I was able to play my iTunes catalog through the receiver.
The FM radio is pretty straight forward. You can either turn the dial to tune into a station or double click it to scan stations. You can also set station presets by pressing and holding the dial.
As for those knobs: the two-button layout is nice, but they are two close in proximity, which causes your thumb to get caught in between the buttons when turning the dial. Also, the power knob felt a tad flimsy to me. When turning the volume knob (which is also the power knob) there was some slight delay in volume increases and decreases. This was also true when using the dial to toggle through tracks when connected to Spotify. While listening to the radio, it took a long time to change stations by turning the dial because it’s so large. It was much quicker to simply scan.
Despite some of the annoyances I experienced with the controls, I found the sound to be rich and satisfying. I wasn’t expecting such adequate sound since the Model One Digital is a mono speaker, but it surprised me. I played several genres of music, including alternative, hard rock, heavy metal, classical, and jazz to test performance and the Model One Digital handled all of them well. Music from FM stations came in loud and clear, as did talk radio.
The one thing I did notice is that the speaker produces a low hissing noise when the device is on and not playing music. Since I was listening to the Model One Digital in a small apartment, I didn’t need to crank the volume, but when I did turn it as loud as I could handle - I did not hear any distortion.
In the end, the pros certainly outweigh the cons when it comes to Tivoli’s Model One Digital. As someone that values both style and substance in electronic devices, enough cannot be said about the product’s design. Regardless of the functionality issues I had with the knobs, this radio has character and can serve as a nice focal point in either your living room or bedroom.
As I stated above, the mono speaker served its purpose and delivered great sound to whichever genre of music I played. For me, the sound quality was good enough to outweigh the functionality issues I experienced with the controls. Other aspects that I took issue with like the digital display is just a matter of personal preference and is likely not to bother some folks.
Cost-wise, the Model One Digital’s $300 price may be too steep in comparison to competitors like Bose, who offers a wireless speaker for under $200. That said, Tivoli’s Model One Digital is more attractive than most wireless speakers and possesses a higher end look. While the majority of wireless speakers on the market look like a bland speaker, the Model One Digital has a distinct retro look that cannot be overlooked. Also, if like me, you're not at a point where you wish to talk to your electronic devices, the Model One Digital is a safe bet. Just don't start saying, "Hey, Tivoli" and expect a response.
Product Rating: B
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