Whether you listen to Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, or the local NPR outlet, you're probably going to love the Cambridge SoundWorks Radio 730. It's far and away the best table radio we've ever heard, and we've tried all the serious contenders. Its only notable shortcoming is the lack of a CD player; for that, you'll need to shell out an extra $100 for the model.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.The Cambridge SoundWorks Radio 730 makes a wholly positive first impression, and our respect only grew as we became better acquainted with its intuitive design. The 730 measures 14 inches wide, 5 inches high, and 10 inches deep; it weighs 11 pounds and feels like a substantial piece of equipment. It's available in black or ivory.
The 730 is a 2.1-stereo radio, meaning it features a pair of good-quality stereo speakers, a separate woofer (the .1), and three amplifier channels. Most of the 730's interior is reserved for the woofer and its associated vent system. That's how this little radio develops its room-filling sound. For just a radio, the 730 has an impressive feature set. Programming the stations and the dual wake-up settings was blessedly easy. You can opt to awaken to the radio or a beep, preselect the volume, and set the snooze interval from 5 to 55 minutes. The cute little credit-card-style remote isn't crowded with a lot of useless buttons.
We normally wouldn't have much to say about a table radio's connectivity, but the 730 is surprisingly well endowed. The AM and FM antenna inputs accept jacks instead of more difficult and fussy bare-wire leads. There are three 3.5mm stereo minijack inputs--a front-mounted one that's great for quick hookups, and two rear-mounted ones for more-permanent connections. One of the two rear inputs also serves as a "mixing" input: it can enable you to mix blips from your computer with the radio's sound, or it can output to a recording device, such as a CD burner. A headphone jack is also on the front panel.
The Stereo selector gives you a choice of Stereo, Mono, and Wide, which we really liked because it opened up the sound. Furthermore, the 730's bass, treble, and loudness controls let you fine-tune the tonal balance. We performed a brief comparison test with the 730 and a well-known table-radio competitor, and the 730's more full-bodied sound was superior. Additionally, we were able to crank up the 730's bass surprisingly far before we detected any buzzes or rattles.
For our listening sessions, we hooked up a new 15GB iPod to the 730's front input. We started with pianist Glenn Gould's Bach: The Goldberg Variations, worked a few Miles Davis sides, and topped it all off with Led Zeppelin II. The 730 took them all in stride.
The 730's FM reception was excellent even before we plugged in the supplied short-wire antenna, and adding it snagged low-power college stations. We also found AM reception to be above average.
Cambridge sells the 730 direct with an in-home, 45-day trial period, so you can check it out for yourself. It has a retail price of $249.