Fri, 25 Nov 2011 rCube review
The portable home speaker system that Apple should have invented
- Manufacturer: Arcam
- Pros: Superb acoustic fidelity; recent price drop; connect up to four rCubes
- Cons: rWave and rWand+ cost extra; remote must be aimed at a strict angle
- Price: £349
- Star rating:
Arcam’s Apple-like rCube speaker system looks and sounds great. It combines the cool, minimalist looks of an Apple product with top-quality audio performance.
It’s not just minimalist in its clean, glossy black or white lines; it measures just 200mm cubed. And at 5kg it’s half the weight of other supposedly portable speakers, such as B&W’s Zeppelin.
Using the rWave USB dongle you can losslessly and wirelessly stream music from your Mac from up to 50m. Even better you can connect up to four rCubes to create a whole-home audio network.
The rWand+ lets you wirelessly stream at the same lossless quality from your iPhone, iPod or iPad, at a distance of 10m. Parties can get more interesting by passing the rWand+ round so that friends can have their turn DJing using their own iPods. Both the rWave and rWand+ use Kleer wireless technology that’s superior to standard Bluetooth. These extra don’t come cheap, however. The rWave costs £79, and the rWand £50.
Superb sound and sleek Apple-like looks make the rCube our choice
The integral Lithium-ion rechargeable battery lasts up to eight hours, which should be long enough for most parties or days spent in the garden. And while the rCube’s resting it will charge your iPod or iPhone.
The touch controls on the top of the unit are also minimal; a slim remote is provided offering the usual volume and track functions. And here’s our only negative about Arcam’s rCube. Despite being a cube you have to aim the remote at a reasonably strict angle to get results – usually above or to the front of the unit.
At the back you get a row of ports and sockets (AUX, Composite and Component Video, a USB connector for firmware upgrades, DC In, and a power switch).
There’s a switch to reduce bass output when the unit is placed in a corner. When the rCube’s sitting away from bass-reinforcing walls you can activate the Bass Boost to compensate. Unlike many better-sound-at-the-push-of-a-button magic switches on rival speakers Arcam’s Bass Boost button really does make a difference.