TDK has announced a fleet of affordable audiophile level products with the aim of marrying the best of analogue with the best of digital. The name of the initiative is Digilogue and leading the charge is the TDK Boombox which Pocket-lint was able to get its hands on ahead of the unveiling at CES 2011 and the subsequent launch in February.
The Boombox is, frankly, a stunning looking, chunky, high gloss, black finish unit reminiscent of the old TDK cassettes and the kind of thing that would show up a Bang & Olufson stereo system. At its heart are 2 full range fibre cone coaxial drivers with 10W textile tweeters but the real core of the piece has to be the central, 6-inch sub. You can get these three going with the built-in AM/FM digital tuner, left and right audio in, USB and instrument plug in as well just in case you want to play your guitar through it.
You can put music through from an iPhone or flash drive straight into the USB with as much of the processing as possible done in the Boombox itself to maximise the quality of sound. There's also an equaliser for treble and bass which is the signature of the entire range and even sits in the headphones clip on remote as well but we'll come to that in a minute.
“We really wanted to do something big and bold,” said the product manager at TDK, “but this range of products is the first stage for us. You can expect us to be thinking about ideas like building in Wi-Fi and other bits of things from the feedback we’ve been getting.”
At £499 - and the same in pounds - it's definitely up there with the higher end machines of its kind and while its looks certainly justify the outlay the sound, on first listen, it was a fraction below its heart-stopping aesthetics.
It could also have done with a lithium rechargeable battery option instead of the 12 D size cells that you'd have to stuff into it if you want to take it out on the move. That said, it's seriously heavy and if you want to go down that route, there's the equally stylish 2-speaker Boombox you can go for instead at £399 that weighs in at 20lbs. Sadly, it still suffers from the same need for old school batteries and only for around 10-12 hours but TDK were quick to recognise the need for an upgrade in the second generation. The 2-speaker is the same system minus the sub but with the same outer drivers.
If that's still too much, then another interesting option is the TDK Sound Cube which mimics an amp and measures 10-inches along each side. At first sight, it seems a little strange to have four speakers packed in so close and all facing out in different directions but the idea is that it performs best in enclosed spaces and it was actually tuned by measuring the rebounding sounds off nearby walls. It has the same inputs minus the AM radio and would sit perfectly in the corner of a student dorm room - provided someone could help out with the £299.
Next up is a belt drive turntable poised to capture the re-growing vinyl market. Again, it's an audiophile grade product with a high gloss surface and aluminium finish. There's an integrated pre-amp so that you can connected direct to some speakers, a USB and software to convert records to digital files and a rather clever optical feedback system under the platter which reads the ridges underneath to speed up or slow down the spin in order to keep the recrod playing at precisely the right speed.
It comes with a diamond tipped cartridge out of the box and that same EQ as found throughout the series. You can pick this one up for £299 or £349 with the USB port.
Last of all comes a set of on-ear headphones known as ST800 with 50mm drivers inside and all metal detailing on the outer. Again, there's the signature EQ on the remote which you can clip into your jacket and it sits along a 4ft cable which comes with a 12ft extender to make sure you can stretch from one side of your listening room to the other without cutting the music. While the remote won't actually allow you to skip tracks, there is a rather funky sound knob which is actually the whole metal end of one of the ear cups. You'll be able to pick up a pair for £249.
All the products will be out in Feb 2011 and they're also in show at CES should you find yourself in Las Vegas come January.