I can't hear you! About a year ago I was looking for a solution to the problem of listening to music in my home office out of the not quite so good speakers in my PowerBook. There are literally hundreds of external computer speaker products out there, but I wanted something that looked good and sounded better.
We already had a Tivoli product in the house, that being a Tivoli Audio Pal that we use in the bathroom. The quality of that product means you get a great little radio that can stand up to the humidity and etc. of a bathroom. It's also got a battery, and that's important for our electrical-outlet-challenged Brooklyn apartment.
So once I exhausted the possibilities in the "computer speakers" market, I turned to proper stereo systems as the possible solution. And as I was pleased with my previous Tivoli purchase, that's where I started.
The Competition It's worth noting, I think, that when people think of high quality, compact radio and/or stereo products, the first thing that comes to mind is the Bose Wave Radio. And, from what I can tell, both from using those products myself, and from reading reviews online, that top of mind awareness is much more the result of Bose's endless marketing of the product than it is the quality and/or value of the product. I've been around a number of the Bose products, and while they're certainly fine and serviceable, the cost of the system really just puts them in the "not worth it" bucket, at least for someone who has ears like mine. Plus, I'll say that the looks of the machine just don't do it for me, and honestly, I'm the kind of person who gets value out of the aesthetic design of a consumer product. At least most of the time, anyway.
What I Needed The only complaint I've had with the Tivoli Audio Pal, and it's less of a complaint than it is a statement of fact, is that it's a mono product. This had been an occasional issue in the past when we had taken the Pal out of the bathroom to use in the kitchen with an iPod plugged in. The quality of sound is fine, but you do miss a bit, especially in records that are rely heavily on a stereo setup, like a Beatles record for instance. And that's the kind of stuff we end up listening to in the kitchen, if you're wondering.
With this in mind, I knew that the Tivoli Audio Model One wasn't going to be appropriate for my needs. And, honestly, once I started looking at the Tivoli Audio Model Two, I didn't really look anywhere else.
What I Got I bought the Model Two and it sits on my desk here next to my PowerBook. I use an 1/8" to 1/8" audio cable to connect the computer or an iPod. The sound quality is rather good, as far as I can tell, and the volume and depth of sound this small device produces is surprising given its size. I don't have the two units separated enough to get the best possible stereo reproduction, but given my space limitations, the thing works splendidly. You can see for yourself that the stereo is a fairly handsome little fellow, and like I said before, that's a valuable thing for me.
I Liked It So Much I Got Two! A few months ago, I picked up a second Tivoli Model Two for my living room, and I don't regret the decision one bit. It works great with an iPod, and again, the sound quality and volume fill the room quite well. I'm likely to be upgrading my television some time this year, and we'll see if the Model Two integrates into a home theater setup at all. It's certainly not designed for the task, and so if it doesn't work out, I've got no problem moving the radio to the bedroom if necessary.
A Few Words About Tivoli Audio The company seems to be interested in unpretentious products of uncompromising quality at reasonable prices. I think this sensibility comes through in the way they market their products, particularly in the way they've put videos up on YouTube to help consumers make informed decisions.
If you're looking for a small audio system that looks good and sounds even better, you can't really do better than the relatively inexpensive Tivoli Audio Model Two.