What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Tue, 29 Nov 2011, 4:08pm

Tivoli PAL+

Tested at £250
60100
3

Small in stature but big on price; it’s a ratio that in this case doesn’t quite work out

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For

  • Small
  • built-in battery
  • clear display
  • projects vocals beautifully
  • good tonal balance

Against

  • Not as refined or controlled as the very best
  • too expensive

Unfathomably, it’s taken almost ten years for Tivoli to add DAB to its dinky PAL radio. The original version, launched way back in 2002, was a big success in the premium portable radio sector, and the company’s clearly very keen to repeat the success with this, um, successor.

Unfortunately, we can’t quite see that happening.

This is a good-looking little unit, especially in the glossy red finish of our review sample (there are four more colours to choose from). The problem is that while it’s undeniably pretty, it neither looks nor feels like it’s really worth £250.

Reasonable spec for the money
The spec is reasonable for a portable radio, with DAB, DAB+ and FM tuners, a full suite of alarm functions, stereo headphone output (which you can also use to hook the PAL+ up to your hi-fi) and a 3.5mm input.

What is lacks are the more modern features – such as internet connectivity, or perhaps a USB socket for an iPod or a memory stick – some rival radios at this price can offer.

In action it does sound nice, especially when tuned to a talkie station, which benefits from clearly projected and weighty voices. There’s a generally impressive balance and weight to its presentation of music, too, although there’s a touch of hardness and forwardness to treble.

Better than your average DAB

Of course, compared with the average DAB radio, this is a very accomplished
unit – but it struggles to justify the price, especially when the Award-winning Vita R1 MkII offfers a bigger and more refined sound – in an arguably more sophisticated chassis – for £160.

True, the Tivoli has a rechargeable battery (good for ten hours of playback) built in, but even with the Vita’s bespoke ‘BackPack’ battery solution added to its price it shaves £40 off the Tivoli.

Don’t get us wrong, we like the PAL+ – it’s cute, sounds good and is portable. It’s just that for us it’s not quite good enough in any of those areas to cost £250. If Tivoli rethinks its pricing, we’ll rethink our rating.

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