Tivoli adds Bluetooth to PAL radio, intros NC headphones
Tivoli Audio is finally bringing wireless connectivity to its line of highly regarded portable speakers and tabletop radios and will soon release a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
David CarnoyExecutive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
ExpertiseMobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakersCredentials
Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
Tivoli Audio's PAL radio has been out for several years and while it's pretty pricey, it remains one our favorite portable speakers.
Over time Tivoli has done little to change the PAL except to offer it in more colors and stick an "i" in front of its name for a white model that includes a cable to hook up your iPod. But now the company has finally added a wireless Bluetooth option to the PAL and its tabletop radio cousin, the Model One. Keeping things simple, the products are called the PAL BT ($299.99) and Model One BT ($259.99). They're due out late this summer.
In other Tivoli news, the company has introduced an active noise-canceling on-ear headphone, dubbed Radio Silenz, as well as a Tivoli Audio iOS Internet radio app that will turn up soon on Android devices. Following the design theme of the Model One, the Radio Silenz headphones have wood trim on the earcups and come in three colors (Walnut, Cherry, and Ash). They ship in June for $159.99.
Finally, in an effort not to leave existing Tivoli owners without a Bluetooth option, the company will be releasing the BluCon Bluetooth Wireless Technology Music Receiver, which works with any audio component with an auxiliary input. It's also shipping late this summer and has a suggested retail price of $149.99. Yes, you heard right, $149.99.
As I said in the intro, Tivoli's stuff tends to be fairly pricey and the PAL is one of the few products we've seen that has gone up in price over the years (it started at $179.99 and is now $219.99). However, it's a great portable unit, offering long battery life and excellent sound, even though it's a mono speaker. The $299.99 price point for the PAL BT puts it up against the highly rated Jawbone Big Jambox and Bose SoundLink Wireless, which should make for an interesting shoot out.
The Radio Silenz headphones are the most reasonably priced of the bunch. I'm breaking in a pair of the Walnut colored ones as I write this. I like them, but more for their comfort level and design than their sound, which didn't blow me away. I'm usually not a fan of small-cup on-ear headphones but these are light and feel comfortable on ear. They also fold into a compact form factor (a carrying pouch is included), and the sound is well balanced, though not terribly detailed. I wouldn't say there's a ton of bass; it's ample, just not terribly well defined.
The one issue I had with them is that when you're listening to quieter music you can hear a noticeable hiss when the noise-canceling is engaged (this is par for the course for NC headphones but it seems a bit more noticeable on this model).
The noise-canceling circuitry is incorporated into an inline dongle (it's powered by a AAA battery and gives you about 50 hours of use) and you don't have to engage the noise-canceling to listen to music, a plus. A button on the dongle, which also has a volume control, allows you to defeat the noise canceling and quiet your music so you can hear what's going on outside your headphones and talk to someone, perhaps a flight attendant.
That's the quick take for now. I'll have a full review of the Radio Silenz headphones in the coming weeks, as well as the PAL BT when it launches.