Bose, Boston Acoustics, and Cambridge SoundWorks will have a new rival when Tivoli Audio ships its Music System tabletop stereo later this year. Encased in a luxurious hand-lacquered high-gloss wood cabinet, the AM/FM/CD Music System is designed to be the flagship model in Tivoli Audio's retro-styled radio line. The slot-loading CD drive plays standard audio CDs, CD-R/RWs, and home-burned MP3 and WMA discs. Other niceties include a clock with dual alarm and sleep functions, six AM and FM presets, support for RDS info (Radio Data System, which provides artist, song title, and genre info on supported stations), and a small credit card-style remote. Like most other Tivoli models, the Music System includes both line-in and mix-in inputs--the latter letting you hear any external source (such as your PC audio) intermingled with the primary audio. A built-in subwoofer and a SpacePhase feature to artificially widen the soundstage round out its audio functionality.
The Music System was originally scheduled to hit in the fall of 2005, but Tivoli's spent the better part of a year getting the voicing of the speakers to sound just right. No doubt it was time well spent, because the Music System will need to sound downright amazing to justify its whopping $600 price tag. Even in the rarefied world of high-end CD radios, that's the most expensive we've seen. And because of the rich price, what's missing from the Music System is all the more glaring: no satellite radio, DVD-Audio, or SACD. Sure, you could hook up any of those to its auxiliary input, but it's worth noting that the forthcoming offers the Tivoli's AM, FM, and CD functions plus XM-ready satellite radio compatibility, DVD video playback, and HD Radio support--for the same $600.
But then again, the I-Sonic's modern styling lacks the rarefied elegance and handcrafted aesthetics of the Tivoli Music System. This is, after all, a luxury item targeted at the same type of discriminating listener who would gladly pay $500 for a pair of piano black, piano white (both with a silver faces), and dark walnut (with a beige face).. For them, the Tivoli Audio Music System will be available in the fall of 2006 in three high-gloss colors: