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TDK Sound Cube review: TDK Sound Cube

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The Good The TDK Sound Cube packs powerful sound into a portable, well-crafted box, decked out with tons of audio input options (including iPod and iPhone), EQ, FM radio, and the option of battery power.

The Bad There's no remote, iPod dock, or AM radio, and the exposed speakers make the TDK Sound Cube a poor choice for use outdoors.

The Bottom Line The TDK Sound Cube looks like nothing else, and its big sound and flexible input options make it a party machine.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

TDK is working hard to break away from its history of dusty cassette tapes and make a new name for itself with a line of premium portable speaker systems. The company kicked off 2011 with its TDK 3 Speaker Boombox, which sent us into convulsive fits of retro sonic bliss. For those interested in something more affordable and portable, the TDK Sound Cube ($299) is a more manageable option than its bigger brother, while still holding its own as a great sound system.

Design and features
When we call the TDK Sound Cube a boom box, we literally mean that it is designed like a box. There are speakers on each of its sides, a comfy leather handle up on top and a compartment on the bottom with room for 12 D-cell batteries.

Without the batteries inside, the Sound Cube weighs as much as a 12-pack of beer. With the batteries installed, you're in for a workout. Still, it's a much more portable system than its big brother, which was a bit of a shin-smacker.

The audio source, station preset, playback control, and other functions are accessed using illuminated capacitive touch controls located above the front speaker. To the left and right of these buttons are two gloriously oversize aluminum knobs that control volume, radio tuning, and other functions. As on the 3 Speaker Boombox, the volume knob goes to 11.

In spite of our enthusiasm, there are some design disappointments in the TDK Sound Cube. Instead of offering a proper dock or enclosure for your connected iPhone or iPod, the speaker system just has a nonslip padded surface on the top. In fairness, TDK's design decision makes it easier to use with a broad range of audio devices (heck, you could place an old Walkman up there), and makes it more future-proof. Still, a secure space for docking your precious iPhone would be nice.

On the back, the TDK Sound Cube offers an iPhone/iPod connection (via USB), USB stick media playback (MP3, AAC, WMA), and a slew of auxiliary input options, including RCA, minijack, and a quarter-inch instrument input that can be blended with the other audio for instant karaoke and block party high jinks.

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