All-In-One Systems

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Ed Selley  |  Mar 02, 2011  |  0 comments
Cube is no square Arcam has distilled its audio expertise into a compact iPod system – the rCube. Richard Black asks if this is the ideal office/kitchen set-up? All sorts of ‘iPod solutions’ have popped up in the last few years, responding to the quite astounding popularity of Apple’s little devices. Arcam has had docks in its catalogue for a while, but this is something altogether more comprehensive, basically making up a full music system when an iPod is plugged in. Inside the compact, but quite heavy housing (and yes, it is indeed a cube, 200mm each way) are stereo speakers, amps to drive them and the full iPod dock shenanigans.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 02, 2011  |  0 comments
Just add speakers Rotel has consolidated its hi-fi know-how into just one £1,200 box, adding streaming for that 21st century touch. Richard Black investigates The term ‘all-in-one system’ is becoming more and more ambitious as more bits and bobs come to be considered standard parts of a system. With the RCX-1500, Rotel has arguably enlarged the envelope compared with previous products we’ve encountered under that general heading. The obvious bits are there – CD player; DAB and FM radio; amplifier; line input and a couple of digital ones – but the RCX-1500 goes a lot further.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
A supercharged mini Malcolm Steward enjoys some high-end hi-fi time, with a cool-looking stack and combo system that can also digitise your vinyl The bijou Chord Electronics Chordette package surely must be the ultimate, high-class micro system. The set-up can be as simple or as comprehensive as anyone wishes just as with regular separate components, albeit, perhaps, slightly more flexible. Yet it has one distinct advantage: the entire Chordette set-up we tested occupies less space than a single 430mm-wide regular component, and there is a purpose built, modular rack available to accommodate the system and make it look swish. The system under test here comprises the Dual (not pictured), Prime, Mogul and Scamp.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 08, 2010  |  0 comments
Naim on stream Naim has launched a new, streaming all-in-one system with a difference – there’s no CD drive! But as Ed Selley discovers, it’s music non-stop Considering that Naim waited the best part of a decade before producing its first CD player, the speed that the company has adopted hard drive and audio streaming products is impressive. In the last few years, we have been treated to the HDX hard drive server, the ‘NaimNet’ multiroom system and the Uniti all-in-one system with streaming capability. The Uniti has now morphed into a complete range of products with the Uniti Serv, CD-ripping music server and the product tested here, the all-in-one streamer/player, the UnitiQute. Finally, Naim has just announced the NDX streamer.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 26, 2010  |  0 comments
Full stream ahead The Arcam Solo neo is the first ‘hi-fi’ one-box system to provide network music facilities Malcolm Steward swops five boxes for just one The Arcam Solo first saw the light of day around six years ago when most audiophiles had CD as their primary source. That is probably still the case for many but there is increasing demand now for machinery that can handle streamed music, whether it’s sourced from the user’s home network or from the internet. And streaming ability is what the Solo neo brings to the party. Naturally, being a member of the Solo family, it also offers CD and radio capabilities – the latter now including internet broadcasting – along with its integral preamplifier and power amplifier stages.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Consonance Forbidden City Ping - £1,495 It looks like a chunky amplifier with a CD and radio added on, but the Ping has plenty of bang for your buck Out of all the systems in this group, this is the one that most resembles an amplifier with added bits. Mostly that’s because it’s quite powerful and, therefore, has the real estate that’s associated with powerful amps (big transformer, reservoir capacitors and heatsinks), but it’s even bigger than it strictly needed to be and is really quite imposing. The front panel layout can be annoying, though – all those little squares prevent one taking in the button labels in a hurry! Features are minimal, but there is a USB input. Although it’s an A-type socket, which would normally be for a USB stick or similar, it’s actually intended for use as a DAC fed from a computer – you’ll need an A-to-A USB cable, but one is provided with the Ping.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Harman/Kardon MAS110 - £650 These futuristic black boxes look and sound the money, but don’t be hoodwinked by their lively style At an attractive price (including loudspeakers, which we didn’t include in the review though a brief listen suggests they’re decent), this little system looks rather futuristic, with its shiny black finish unspoiled by buttons or other such fripperies. It shows fingerprints, but a quick wipe sees things right. Although quite a lot of functions are in fact banished to the remote, including source selection, the front panel of the CD player does at least have transport controls, touch-sensitive ‘buttons’ which light up when power is applied, while the amp has a volume control. Actually the ‘CD player’ is also the preamp part, but no, you can’t mix and match the parts as they share a power supply and the only input to the amp is via the multi-way lead.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Shanling MC3000 - £1,400 With its retro looks and technology, Shanling's MC3000 is right on trend and challenges the competition The chassis design of this device started life as a CD player and it’s thanks to some nifty lateral thinking that Shanling has been able to expand its remit to amplification, radio reception and even an iPod dock. Some of the work to do that was straightforward enough; for instance, putting the power amplification and mains transformer in the ‘towers’ at the back. Some was really quite clever – the volume control and input selector are each operated by a knob masquerading as the top of one corner pillar. There’s nothing unusual about the internal construction, though, the parts quality is impressive, with a very recent DAC chip and quite a few good-quality op-amps.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Yamaha MCR-640 - £600 The budget price is tempting, but with Yamaha’s not-quite-separates you get what you pay for Question: when is a hi-fi separates component not separate? When it’s not functional apart from its sibling – which makes the R-840 amplifier a separate but the CD player not. The latter has its own power supply and mains lead but simply refuses to power up when not connected to the amp via the supplied data lead. The amp will work, but isn’t so attractive on its own with effectively just the one line input, plus of course digital and analogue radio and the iPod dock. Linked up, the two units form a pretty well-specified system.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Arcam Solo Mini - £750 Solo was one of the first one-box systems on the market and still holds its own against the newcomers Arcam didn’t invent the all-in-one system, but it gave the breed a lot of street cred with the original Solo (still available) and this, the half-width version. Despite its diminutive size, it does a lot of stuff, so excuse a slightly telegraphic rundown of its features. . .
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Audio Analogue Enigma - £1,295 Beautiful Italian design and one Russian valve makes this one-box system something of a wonder Audio Analogue’s smartly designed products are familiar features in the pages of this magazine – we’ve reviewed quite a few of them over the years. This recent addition to the company’s range brings together radio, CD and an amplifier, though it lacks frills such as digital input, USB socket and iPod dock. The use of a valve is an obvious talking point, though the usual question arises: when the circuit is otherwise resolutely solid-state, what is one valve going to do other than add some character? Still, it’s a nice visual feature, glowing gently behind its own little window. The hard work of providing current for the speakers is handled by a pair of integrated-circuit amplifiers, mounted on an internal heatsink at the rear, next to the large toroidal mains transformer.

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