Arcam rCube £500
10th Feb 2011 | 11:00
Can this high-end speaker dock offer a performance that matches its price?
The rCube is Arcam's most ambitious product yet. The result of around five years' research and development, it aims to bring hi-fi quality sound to a compact and transportable speaker dock.
The rCube's sealed construction enhances the bass, giving it a more natural sound than a rear-facing bass port would allow. The woofers are positioned back-to-back so they don't shake the unit, and the tweeters are angled at around five degrees to give the audio a breadth that belies the dock's relatively small size.
Available in black or white, the top and bottom sections have the same finish as an iPhone, with a cloth cover enwrapping all four sides. Metal grilles add rigidity.
As well as mains power, it has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts around six or seven hours. A hatch covering the 30-pin dock doubles as a carry handle, and also as a back rest for your iOS device – no Universal Dock Adapters are needed.
You can also stream your music from your Mac or iPod to up to eight rCubes, using an optional 30-pin dongle or USB stick (sold separately). Wireless streaming is based on the Kleer system for 'lossless' quality.
For £500 you'd expect a stellar sound, and the rCube delivers. It's very detailed and well integrated, especially the bass, which is clear and well defined.
The sound as a whole is gorgeously complete, with no undue emphasis on one particular area, though if you find it a little bass-heavy (perhaps because the rCube's in a corner), a button at the back cuts out unwanted echoes without losing overall balance. Vocals in particular sound great on the rCube, sitting atop the audio very nicely.
There's very little to criticise here. It's expensive, but not overpriced for a device of this quality.
It's very harsh on highly compressed MP3s though, so if you've ripped your CD collection at a high compression rate to save space, you might want to rip them again.
But then, anyone prepared to spend £500 on a top-quality speaker dock is unlikely to use low-quality MP3s on any audio system.
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