Roberts Stream 63i
The only all-in-one music combo you'll ever need?
Review British radio stalwart Roberts has been releasing a steady stream of DAB and FM models and is increasingly combining its options into various categories of music system. The Stream 63i is the latest do-it-all model offering CD player, iPod dock, FM and DAB radio, Internet radio and audio streaming using your home network too.
Versatile performer: Roberts' Stream 63i
The Roberts Stream 63i is a slick-looking device encased in piano black MDF – only one colour, but then it goes with just about anything. It measures a reasonably compact 358 x 120 x 260mm and weighs a reassuringly solid 5.2kg. Indeed, it’s big and heavy enough to promise some decent acoustics, but still small enough to fit in the bedroom, kitchen or wherever takes your fancy.
The touch-sensitive controls are arranged around a good-sized, six-line LCD display with a drop-down panel at the bottom masking SD memory card and USB slots. Around the back are 3.5mm aux in, line out and headphone jacks, as well as an optical digital output and Ethernet connection. There are also separate aerials for FM/DAB and Wi-Fi.
You certainly get a serious bit of bang for your 350 bucks – yes, I know, pounds sterling, really. After all, besides its functions for CD/radio/dock/streaming combinations, and playback from USB sticks and SD memory cards, you can also record directly from the radio onto your chosen storage option. It’s nice and simple too, just press ‘record’ once to start, and again to stop.
A full-function remote is provided if operation with touch controls doesn't appeal
There’s a six-preset equaliser on board, as well as separate bass and treble controls which you can programme to a set level on the equaliser. There’s an alarm clock and sleep timer too, and you can also adjust the brightness of the screen and the sensitivity level of the touch controls. A nice touch, or so it would seem.
Slip a disc
Pop a CD into the slot-loading player at the front and it will automatically stop whatever it’s doing and switch to the disc – a nicely intuitive touch. It has UPnP certification and connecting to my PC via my Wi-Fi home network was straightforward enough. The large screen means the set-up menu can display all of the alphabet at once so it’s easy to input your WEP key with minimal scrolling.
Yes, it's an iPod dock too, but a whole lot more besides
With my music folder made available for sharing via Windows Media Player, the Stream 63i was able to find my network, then identify the music source and stream the tunes directly. It’s also compatible with Macs and computers running Linux. The latest Windows Media Player 12 can serve MP3, AAC, WMA and WAV files but you’ll need to instal a different UPnP server, such as Twonky, to play FLAC files.
Connecting to my Buffalo LinkStation Mini Nas server was even easier – it scanned, it found, it played – and played and played without dropping the signal. Last.fm’s streaming service is included in the spec, but you’ll need a paid-for subscription to be able to use it. It will suggest new tracks based on your radio listening and usefully it’s backed up by a couple of dedicated buttons on the remote for repeat and random.
In terms of Wi-Fi reception range, it just about made it from one end of my house to the other (about 12 metres, with three brick walls in-between) which isn’t always the case with some Wi-Fi devices. At the extremes, however, it took a noticeably longer time to hook on to the network than when it was in the same room as my router.
The speakers are a pair of full-range, ported, 2.5in drivers offering six watts RMS which do a pretty decent job of throwing out the sound with a fair degree of oomph, helped by the solidity of the cabinet, which Roberts says has been ‘acoustically tuned’.
From a hi-fi point of view, the output doesn’t offer a huge amount of detail, and the high end is a little muddy, but there's plenty of presence and a fair bit of kick in the low end. It’s a case of horses for courses – if you want some serious hi-fi, this isn’t the system for you, but if you value the ability to play any of your disparate music sources in the background, or use them for dancing around your kitchen, then the Stream 63i has certainly got what it takes.
As an all-in-one music hub, there's not much more you could want
The Roberts Stream 63i is a decent do-it-all music system which can handle almost any music you care to throw at it from radio, CD, the internet or streaming. While the audio quality isn’t the exactly the highest of fidelity, it is certainly punchy when you need it to be and delivers a comfortable, room-filling level of sound, from whatever source, with the greatest of ease. ®
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