Russ Andrews RAVE1 USB (amp/spkrs) review

The USB input on this latest laptop amp makes sense, as do the three line-level inputs, but we're not entirely sold on it Tested at £215.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Big-boned, detailed sound and has a USB input for your laptop or MP3 player.

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Russ Andrews' original RAVE system was something of a Curate's egg: very good in places, but doomed to an average three-star review. After all, it was pretty quiet – and had no digital input, which was strange for something allegedly designed to go with your laptop.

Fast-forward to today and our complaints have, apparently, been addressed in the form of the RAVE 1 USB. It still comprises a compact, portable amplifier and a couple of plastic-bodied loudspeakers, but there have been changes: power is up, and the third of the four amplifier inputs is now a USB.

Easy computer connections
Now that's much more like it: the USB input allows your laptop or MP3 player to connect without fuss, and the more powerful amplification means you don't have to wind up the volume control all that far.

The sound is composed, quite full-figured and enjoys a lively tempo: by laptop/desktop sonic standards, you shouldn't find too much to complain about. The lack of mains or speaker cables is stingy, even if a discount on RA products is meant to sweeten the pill. The one problem is simply this: some rivals sound better for about the same money – hence no fifth star.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test