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Tivoli's 'wireless' PAL radio

Radio--remember radio? It was the original wireless technology. It still sounds great on the Tivoli PAL.

The Tivoli Audio PAL (Portable Audio Laboratory) radio is pretty small, just 6.25 by 3.7 by 3.9 inches, and it weighs a little under 2 pounds. It has just one 2.5-inch "full-range" speaker, but the little radio is one of my all-time favorite products. The battery-powered PAL is "wireless," because radio was, after all, the original widespread wireless format.

The Tivoli PAL radio Tivoli

The PAL is dead simple to use: turn it on, select AM or FM radio, and tune to the station you love. You can also plug an iPod, or any device, into the PAL's 3.5mm input jack.

The weather-resistant, rubberized cabinet comes in pink or black. The silky tuning knob feels great, and reminds me of old analog radios. The tuner has a frequency contouring circuit, and the power to clearly pull in difficult-to-receive stations. The built-in NiMH battery recharges whenever the PAL is plugged in, and delivers up to 16 hours of playback at a time. It can also be used with AC power.

The PAL was designed by Henry Kloss, a bona fide American hi-fi pioneer. Starting in the early 1950s he worked at Acoustic Research, was the "K" in KLH, and founded Advent and Cambridge SoundWorks, and co-founded Tivoli Audio. Kloss developed the first true high-fidelity cassette deck, and won an Emmy Award for developing the first consumer projection television system, the Advent VideoBeam in 1972. The projectors were all built in Kloss' Cambridge, Mass., factory. The PAL radio was his last design; Kloss died in 2002.

Kloss tweaked the PAL's sound just right, so even a persnickety audiophile like myself can really enjoy this little radio. True, the bass won't make your room shake, and it can't play all that loud, but the midrange tonality is excellent. The PAL is small enough to take with me anywhere in my apartment or on vacation. I've been listening to it almost daily for nearly 10 years, and when you realize how much great audio gear I own and review, there must be something pretty special about Kloss' little radio. It's that good, but it's not cheap; it's $219.99.