In the same way that we once feared vinyl and CD would all but die out thanks to the rise of online music streaming, there was a great deal of anxiety that the good old-fashioned radio would soon go to the wall when portable MP3 players, HomePods and smart speakers emerged from the technological oven.
That hasn't, thankfully, quite happened. There’s still a great demand for having a classic radio as a staple of many domestic audio set-ups, even if the simple requirement of being able to transmit Classic FM and Radio 4 in the kitchen has evolved to include a more wide-ranging list of tasks and functions.
A modern radio often needs to be a jack-of-all-trades while retaining the signature look, feel and function of a classic piece of tech in order to survive in its own particular market niche. That’s exactly what Revo's original SuperConnect delivered with its feature-packed original model back in 2014, and now, almost ten years later, the brand’s sequel has arrived with more stations, more streaming support and, crucially, stereo sound.
Build & design
We described the first SuperConnect’s aesthetic as “modern with a dash of retro” when we tested it back in 2014. Looking at the updated model, perhaps “retro with a dash of modern” would be better suited to the Stereo’s dapper aesthetic, the stylish new unit defined by a bold steel grille, smooth oak panelling and a sharp LED display now occupying the console’s centre.
Atop the SuperConnect’s sleek panelling is a large foldable antenna, while a sizeable tuning knob on the right-hand side takes care of volume control. There’s also an optical digital output, an aux input, a pair of RCA connectors and a 3.5mm headphone jack if you’re keen to plug your cans into the source while, say, working at your desk without wanting to attract your neighbours’ ire.
Radio FM, DAB/DAB+, internet
Network features Wi-fi, Spotify Connect, Amazon Music, Deezer
Bluetooth? Yes, 5.2
Connections RCA analogue input, 3.5mm aux input, digital optical output, 3.5mm headphone
Dimensions (hwd) 18 x 36 x 15cm
Weight 5 kg
Finishes x 2 (walnut/black, walnut/silver aluminium)
Whether you opt for walnut and black or walnut and silver aluminium, the SuperConnect Stereo looks great, sticking to its half-and-half aesthetic without ever feeling mismatched or disorganised. It’s also brilliantly made, feeling weighty and solid without ever coming across as bulky or industrial. The various buttons and inputs across the bottom are clearly marked and easy to use, while the LED display gives you the basics you need to get by, even if the lack of a ‘back button’ to simply hop backwards a step when you’ve delved into a menu category can be a cause of irritation.
There’s also a plastic remote that covers most of the basic functionalities, too, and while it may not be particularly astonishing to look at, it does its job just fine. Again, our only gripe would be a lack of a handy ‘return’ button to flick you back a step, but that’s about it.
Revo’s latest model accommodates 36,000 radio stations from across the globe, while streaming support from Spotify, Deezer and Amazon Music means the SuperConnect can keep up with the demands of the modern world. We sampled Spotify Connect with our own test model and found the set-up and functionality to be as simple as putting on a pair of socks. Operating playback from the SuperConnnect is less slick than from your phone, though, as the Revo’s display can only scroll back and forth through your songs rather than giving you access to the full category of your tunes.
Wireless audio playback via Bluetooth 5.2 also works pretty well, although we did experience just the occasional twitch or hint of lag as the radio occasionally allowed one or two internal hiccups to become audible to human ears. Far from enough to take you out of the moment, but worth noting nonetheless.
Thanks to a built-in WLAN network streamer, Revo can also stream tunes from any connected device on your home network (such as a music server, if you have one).
Scrolling through the Revo’s menu gives options from internet radio, DAB/DAB+ radio, FM, your chosen streaming services, a simple-to-use podcast hub, a few settable alarms and a settings menu. The podcast hub is a particularly nice touch, bringing together thousands of different shows into one accessible database while also allowing you to dig out your pod of choice via a neat search function.
The SuperConnect Stereo features a 30W Class D amplifier powering two 90mm BMR speakers, something that Revo argues gives “wide dispersion and an expanded sweet spot” for more pleasing audio playback. There’s also Proprietary EQ configuration to supposedly provide “warm open sound with clarity, detail and a rich, deep bass”.
Let’s see how this all translates to the real world of actually listening to your favourite tracks. Radios, especially smaller ones, do have a tendency either to sound too tinny or too muffled, but there’s an unexpected amount of space and depth provided by Revo’s more sizeable unit. Fire up Scissor Sisters’ Take Your Mama and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much of the song’s original flair and sense of fun remains.
Darker, bassier efforts are given an equally good account. Metric’s Help I’m Alive retains so much of its character and weight, especially when it comes to the track’s clanking, industrial percussive sounds, whereas Nirvana’s On A Plain feels as crunchy and pulsatingly visceral as ever.
The Revo also deals very well with dynamics and bigger, orchestral compositions. Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 In C Minor feels controlled, balanced and cohesive, as though all of the elements are being given the respect and authority they deserve. No single instrument or voice is off balance, and every timbre and texture is ordered into a cohesive, musical package.
Spoken voices, too, sound crisp and authoritative. Load up any podcast of your choosing and you’ll find the vocal presentation to be clear and personable, something that carries on through to talking segments across DAB and FM frequencies or internet radio.
It’s worth noting, though, that sound quality will vary depending on the medium chosen and, inevitably, the strength of the signal you’re attempting to pick up. When playing around with our test model, the best sound came courtesy of streaming services such as Spotify or else internet-accessed radio stations, in contrast to the background fuzz generated by traditional FM frequencies.
The demands on the modern radio are more burdensome than ever. Not only does a good radio have to provide access to the airwaves as it always has, but now there’s a demand for streaming, not to mention high-fidelity audio and a striking, eye-catching design. Most contemporary units must be a Swiss army knife of functions.
Thankfully, the SuperConnect Stereo is more than up to the task(s). Packed with features and highly competent at everything it does, Revo’s long-awaited sequel to the original 2014 model has been worth the wait; it’s easy-to-use, fantastic to look at and a pleasure to listen to, and while it may sport a vintage aesthetic, nothing about the SuperConnect Stereo feels remotely out-of-date.
- Sound 5
- Features 5
- Build 4
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