The R4 is Vita's most ambitious design to date, combining a DAB/FM radio, CD player and iPod dock with an amp, stereo speakers and a subwoofer – all in a unit not much wider than a standard audio component.
It's available in this ‘Dream White' high-gloss lacquer, or at £50 less in walnut veneer, is mains powered and clearly sees itself as a rival to conventional mini- and micro-systems.
Alarm and sleep timer functions are provided, along with two auxiliary inputs and a USB socket, and the R4 will also play MP3 or WMA files from CD or from memory devices connected via the USB port.
The amplification is of an in-house Class A-B design, built from discrete components rather than simple ‘chip' solutions, and provides a total of 80W to the two stereo speakers and the downward-firing subwoofer.
A final neat touch is that the ‘RotoDial' control panel, located on the top-panel, detaches to become a sleek, easily understood remote handset for all the system's functions.
Sounds warm and sweet
The sound is on the safe side of neutral, with a warmth to the bass and a sweetness to the treble that means a slight diminution of atmosphere, and really rough and complex recordings can sound confused and overly ‘thick'.
But within the constraints of its design, the R4 is capable of handling voices and instruments well, and delivering them in a natural, expressive manner that's never less than appealing.
That's just as true with high-quality compressed music as it is with CD, but recordings subject to extensive bitrate reduction are more prone to the thickening-up effect.
The radio section is also impressive on both DAB and FM – though it sounds better on FM where there's a good signal and you have a choice – and more than acceptable sensitivity on both bands.
The R4's sound will please most listeners, it looks smart and – with a little familiarisation – its RotoDial handset makes it simple to use. This latest Vita should be every bit as successful as the company's previous models.