This may seem a somewhat sacrilegious thing to write on a dedicated hi-fi platform, but sometimes less is more. Trek your way around an event like the Bristol Hi-Fi Show and you may end up convinced that you need entire walls stacked to the brim with the latest equipment in order to reach the promised land of perfect audio fidelity. Amps, preamps, DACs, source players, turntables, streamers – there’s practically no end to how complex, or costly, your personal system could become.
Ok, admittedly the SuperConnect Stereo, Revo’s five-star sequel on the original SuperConnect model from 2014, isn’t going to replace the sort of set-up that costs thousands of pounds and needs its own dedicated postcode to accommodate it. What the SuperConnect Stereo could be, however, is the perfect alternative to less complex, separate player-and-speaker systems that nevertheless require space and planning to assemble, and while that £489 / $599 / AU$899 may still seem hefty for something of its size, it starts to make a lot more sense when you consider just what the SuperConnect could be providing the alternative to. It’s also an awesome piece of kit in and of itself, a great reminder of just how pleasurable the experience of simply listening to the radio can be when the sound quality is up to snuff.
Great sound without the fuss
Most hi-fi systems comprising various separates require planning and consideration to assemble. In fact, it can be a complex and sometimes painstaking process that requires budgeting, research and careful thought if you’re going to end up with your perfect hi-fi system and retain some semblance of sanity, or indeed money. Even most smaller “separates” set-ups need to be assembled with care, and you’ll need to consider whether, for instance, a certain set of speakers is sonically compatible with the source or player they’re plugged into. With so many choices and so many combinations to pick from, it can be a minefield of confusion getting something with which you’re entirely satisfied.
That’s the real selling point of the Revo SuperConnect Stereo, in that it delivers top-quality sound for the price without the fuss and hassle of multiple distinct units. Everything’s in the box already, including a 30W Class D amplifier powering two 90mm BMR speakers, so you’re never short-changed in the sound department. I’ve been sitting listening to the Revo pretty much every day since it arrived at our offices a month ago, and nothing has diminished my view of just how remarkable the sound quality is for a single-box solution of this size and price. Classic FM or Capital, Kanye West or The Kinks, the highly impressive SuperConnect has it covered. The tone is rich, warm and expansive – something you just don’t expect from such a (relatively) compact piece of equipment, predominantly because there’s so much out there of this kind that doesn’t sound as sophisticated.
You’re also not stumped in terms of physical connectivity. The SuperConnect has it sorted in the wireless department, delivering Spotify Connect, Deezer and Amazon Music pretty much straight out of the box, as well as wi-fi and Bluetooth compatibility, but it also provides you with an RCA analogue input, a 3.5mm aux input, a digital optical output and a 3.5mm headphone port so that you can enjoy a high-quality listening experience without incurring the wrath of the Jones’s next door. This isn’t a product you’ll be connecting your fancy new phono stage-ready turntable to, but for streaming, radio and for Bluetooth-streamed music from your smartphone, you couldn’t ask for much better.
A design for life
There’s a lot to be said for how the SuperConnect Stereo actually looks, too. I’ve always been a sucker for a neat piece of design, and Revo’s chic, retro-modern effort has me completely won over. Hi-fi systems tend to dominate the space in which they sit, commanding attention and usually pulling focus from the rest of the room, whereas modern smart speakers and hubs are painfully bland and utilitarian by comparison. Sonos’ new Era 100, for instance, is a magic piece of kit, but it’s more at home lining the shelves of Curry’s than it is fitting in with a Tudor cottage or Georgian townhouse. Sadly, many products of this ilk – HomePods, Amazon Echos etc – tend to fall into this same boring trap.
Revo’s SuperConnect Stereo, by comparison, actually feels as though it was designed by a human being rather than a committee of robots whose idea of adventurous means offering a grey colour option as an alternative to the standard white or black. Its sleek metal grille, smooth wooden casing and pleasing central OLED display will enhance your front room rather than detract from it, especially when compared to the joyless functionality of many contemporary rivals.
The simple joy of radio
Not only is it easy to set up (i.e. you don’t have to), the Revo SuperConnect is a piece of cake to use. Connecting to the Revo’s wide range of streaming features is a doddle, and while there’s something to be said for a dedicated “back” button on the interface and the provided remote, that’s about the only gripe I could find in terms of functionality. Yes, many of the source players you’d find attached to a pair of separate speakers will also be user-friendly, but that doesn’t diminish Revo’s achievement in making its own product seamless to use via its unit controls and dedicated remote. Accompanying apps are all well and good, but it’s a breath of fresh air to have a properly tactile unit that functions without a trip to the App Store.
The streamlined podcast hub, for instance, which places the most popular pods from around the world into one easily-accessible location on the menu, is a particularly nice touch, while getting access to FM, DAB and internet stations is pretty much hassle-free. If you (perhaps slightly patronisingly) consider the Revo to be suitable as an alternative for an older, less tech-savvy generation of users who just want to hear Ken Bruce in the morning and a few hits from ’70s pop outfits Baccara or Bony M in the afternoon, it’s absolutely worth the money.
Maybe the test of whether or not you’ve just been handed a great piece of hi-fi hardware isn’t “Is this a good piece of kit?”, instead it is something akin to “Do I want one of these?” The answer to that question, in the case of the Revo SuperConnect Stereo, is a resounding yes. Revo’s newest smart radio has not only demonstrated that you don’t need a hi-fi system to provide you with a decent, satisfying sound, but it’s also reinvigorated my appreciation for the simple format of classic radio.
Yes, you could get a smart speaker or streamer that plays radio wirelessly over your phone or another device and might be controllable by your own voice, but that isn’t an option for everyone, especially those users who aren’t so au fait with the zippy convenience of the smartphone era. There’s still a pleasing simplicity of being able to press some manual buttons or twiddle an actual dial and, a few moments later, be soothed by Anne-Marie Minhall or infuriated by Jeremy Vine.
The SuperConnect Stereo’s real USP, though, is that it gives you a very solid starting point into hi-fi in one conveniently sized box that doesn’t cost the earth, providing a broad spectrum of functions and a robust, pleasing sound. If that’s the way things ultimately go in the future, I’m happy to be part of the Revo-lution.
Read our five-star Revo SuperConnect Stereo review
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