Tangent Cinque review: Tangent Cinque

The Good Style; audio performance.

The Bad Not the easiest to use; record function would be nice; quite pricey.

The Bottom Line No doubt a stylish system, but for its price we demand a little more functionality before we call it good value. But it sounds good and if that, plus looks, is what you're after, you won't be disappointed

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7.5 Overall

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You can pick up a DAB radio for very little these days. The same goes for CD players. Tangent has brought its Cinque tabletop DAB/CD system to the higher end of the market at around £200, promising to "gather a whole bunch of [music] formats and just play your favourite music". Does it really mean 'a bunch' or is it actually just a couple?

Available in three glossy colours or a walnut effect, the Cinque is instantly eye-catching and aesthetically identical to Tangent's media streamer, the Quattro MKII. A single 76mm (3-inch) 5W driver sits in the roof of the enclosure, backed with a reflex port to the rear. For some inane reason, the rear also plays host to the headphone socket.

A two-line LCD display between the volume and tuning knobs is functional but uninspiring. PURE Digital's Evoke-1S has one of our favourite two-line display incarnations -- it's a bright OLED with terrific contrast. We'd love to see the Cinque with such a display.

Everything's fairly standard, though the 17 buttons on the system's face might scare the technopobes, as many represent both a CD player function and two preset slots.

Despite the promise, the Cinque plays surprisingly few formats: WMA -- and only unprotected WMA at that -- and MP3. Certainly not a 'bunch': it misses out on OGG, FLAC, AAC and WAV. But if you ignore the sales pitch, it's still a likeable system, with a self-loading CD player that'll read CD audio and MP3/WMA files, though only 120mm discs.

DAB is the other function on offer here, with up to 12 stations saveable as presets. You've also got 12 separate presets for FM radio, should DAB not excite you. What we'd love to see -- and what would separate this system for the vast majority of DAB all-in-one systems -- is an ability to record radio programming, either onto internal memory or preferably SD card. A 'live pause' feature similar to the ReVu feature on PURE Digital's Legato II would also be something to give the system oomph.

Plus, if you're going to offer the playback of digital media files in a £200 system, why wouldn't you include a USB slot for use with flash-based thumb drives? This oversight borders on annoying.

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