Arcam rCube portable iPod speaker system
Top of the docks
Review Following in the footsteps of Bowers & Wilkins, Cambridge-based Arcam is the latest top-end British hi-fi maker to start a dalliance with the dark forces of the iPod, iPad and iPhone by producing a one-box music system to complement Apple's handheld devices.
Boom box: Arcam's rCube
At 200mm square, the rCube is small for a premium speaker system and takes up a lot less space than the likes of the B&W Zeppelin or Philips DS9000 Fidelio, giving it instant appeal to those short on space. Small it maybe but, at 5kg, light it is not. That probably has something to do with the cast aluminium base and cabinet made from 12mm thick MDF. Arcam say the structure and build apes that of a high-end speaker cabinet and, having seem an rCube in pieces, I'd agree.
Externally, the rCube is as black as night with a deep gloss finish on the top and bottom, with cloth covered vertical sides. The word from Arcam is that it may consider other colours in due course, but for the moment you can only have it in black.
Thoughtful design exterior touches including a removable 30-pin dock on a ribbon connector. So if it breaks, replacing it is a five minute DIY job. There’s enough space around the dock connector for your iPhone to be used with its cover or bumpers in-situ and a concealed carry-handle beneath the damped dock cover.
A touch of class
The touch-sensitive controls on the top of the unit have been kept to a minimum and simply let you turn the unit on, adjust the volume and activate the wireless streamer, about which more below. Everything else is managed from a rather work-a-day, yet full-function remote.
Tea plantation workers have a great amplifier
I visited a tea plantation last year and out in the fields you could hear the feint tones of the local music.
On closer investigation, many leaf pickers had their own personal, non-fruit, music reproducers. Not being loud enough to be heard un-aided, they placed their devices in buckets which made the music loud enough for them to enjoy.
Very 'Green', too, no power needed.
Indeed - I have made a few 'speakers myself in my time and they're all MDF. I read an interesting article recently by a pro designer who does his own DIY projects and made his own MDF/chipboard sandwich material to get the low density/high absorption benefits of chipboard plus the high density/low-resonance benefits of MDF - IIRC it was 12mm chip + 18mm MDF - going to give it a try one of these days.
Another thing too... there's every likelihood that, at the rCube's dimensions, 12mm is just fine. Wouldn't be my choice, but then I have to make allowances for the fact that I don't have even a fraction of the skill undoubtedly possessed by Arcam's designers!
guess it might have to late to include Airplay in their design, let's hope it get's in on the next version.
I think that MDF Construction rather than molded plastic is the aping of traditional high end speakers rather than the thickness. MDF is usually the best material for speaker cabinets without going super high end - concrete, carbon fiber etc.
I am not doing any throat jumping I am just saying.
My thoughts exactly
I'm beginning to think an Airport Express of Apple TV hooked up to a decent set of active speakers is the best solution. Hell, get one of the none wireless (but with aux input) iPod docs if you need somewhere convenient to charge your iDevice from time to time.