TIVOLI AUDIO MUSIC SYSTEM HOME GENERATION 2 REVIEW

The Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2 is the updated version of Tivoli’s flagship wireless smart music system. The Gen 2 models now have added Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 for wireless convenience.

Tivoli Audio are based in Boston, USA and have been making radios since 2000. The Music System Home Gen 2 is made in China.

 

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2

The system has the air of a mid-century ‘wireless’ and is both retro and futuristic at the same time, meaning it will fit comfortably into the décor of most homes. The furniture-grade wooden cabinet and eco-friendly fabric give a distinctly 50s furniture feel with the sleek brushed metal and large central dial/display giving the modern twist.

The ecological credentials don’t stop there as the Tivoli arrives cocooned in eco-friendly packaging, right down to the ‘plastic’ being made from cellulose rather than traditional plastic, and compressed recycled cardboard rather than any polystyrene being used.

The Tivoli Music System Home Generation 2 portable all-in-one stereo music system promises an easy way to stream favourite music and podcasts, play media from Bluetooth enables devices, or browse DAB/FM radio.

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

The new Tivoli Music System Home Generation 2 is equipped with a four-driver configuration of two 3.5-inch woofers and two 0.75-inch tweeters driven by four dedicated amplifiers (two 8W and two 20W).

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2

The central dial of the Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2

The central circular dial/display twists to tune in the radio and it has a satisfying feel to it. The two other knobs for volume and source selection and play/pausing/skipping tracks also have that quality feel to them.

It comes with a nice little remote, that actually has a decent weight to it, along with FM and AM antennae. It also has a wired 3.5mm aux input, optical and an ethernet port for wired internet connection instead of WiFi. Firmware updates are automatic.

SET UP

Set up of the Tivoli is pretty simple. Clip in the little feet/legs underneath, plug in its power cable and away you go. The Music System Home doesn’t come with its own app, Tivoli Audio suggest that you use Google Home or Apple AirPlay 2. I went with Google Home from my Google Pixel 3 XL phone and followed the set-up instructions. This hit a few problems as the Tivloli was wanting to do some updates that required downloads. However, we soon got past the issues, the Tivoli updated and installed the new software and was connected to the internet and online pretty painlessly. As the Google Home App means that you don’t need to start adding passwords to connect the new unit to your network, everything is done for you.

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2

The Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2 is elegant and stylish looking

Having Chromecast built-in allows you to cast easily from your phone or tablet to the Tivoli. This makes it obvious why Tivoli haven’t produced their own companion app to go along with the Music System Home. You can cast from whatever you choose, so for me, I would like, for example, to listen to BBC Radio on this kind of device. Being in France this has to be via the internet so the easiest way to do it is to use the BBC Sounds app and go for live radio from there. Handily the BBC Sounds app also opens up a world of music and podcasts so there is a lot of content to keep you interested and to simply cast to the Music System Home Gen 2. One issue that I did have was a lot of dropouts when listening to radio via android and Chromecast casting to the Tivoli.

Although I’m not an Apple phone/laptop user we do have an iPad mini that is used mainly for use as a Roon controller for our Auralic in the main listening room system. So I went onto AirPlay and switched to radio through that which was very simple to do. I also found that I didn’t get dropouts using AirPlay. During extended listening over the couple of weeks that I was testing the Tivoli for I consistently found that AirPlay 2 was the more reliable connection out of it and Chromecast.

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2 using Apple AirPlay 2. It also comes with a remote control.

In the interest of testing as much as possible on the Tivoli Music System Home, I also used my Amazon Fire HD8 and then connected via Bluetooth to the Tivoli. This was OK but I find Bluetooth can be a bit ‘droppy’ – I should stress that Bluetooth is often an issue in our home for some reason.

By far the best connection wirelessly to the unit was via Apple AirPlay 2, it gave a reliable connection whether using it for internet radio from the iPad Mini or streaming using Roon and Qobuz.

FM and AM radio are fairly self-explanatory, though I far prefer using internet radio, it is good to have this option if the internet connection goes down.

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2 rear panel connections

I was really hoping to test out the DAB radio option, but being in France, DAB has not fully rolled out here as yet. There is some very localalised coverage, but we fall just out of the area for either Nantes or Brest. National radio channels and coverage were promised for this summer (July 2021) though this has now been pushed back to the Autumn, with full French DAB coverage hopefully arriving in 2022/23.  Like many things the last 18 months has caused delays and deadlines just have not been achievable.

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROON

So here lies a bit of a sticking point. The Tivoli Music System Home Gen 2 is not Roon Ready. Going by the avalanche of news stories that we get announcing many streaming products from numerous brands being Roon Ready, I was really quite surprised that this is omitted from the Tivoli.  A quick count of brands on the Roon website gives currently ninety-five brands that have this status, covering a wide variety of different gear and price points.

Audiophiles are increasingly using Roon to optimise their music streaming experience and the ease of connection to a Roon Ready piece of equipment makes a unit not having those credentials a bit of a dealbreaker for me personally. But I suppose we really need to think about who is the intended user of this Tivoli music system, to be fair what percentage of people buying it will be committed Roon users?  My guess is that the target market for this beautifully designed piece of equipment is much more likely to be a style-conscious home listener than a hard-core audiophile…so the available connection options should be ample. If you are a committed Roon user though it is worth checking whether a new piece of equipment is Roon Ready or not, sometimes the fact that it is a premium price does not guarantee it.

The workaround to use Roon that I found was to use the iPad mini and AirPlay 2, rather than the instant connection that I would have had to a Roon Ready unit.

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2

SOUND QUALITY

I listened to a lot of Radio whilst testing out the Tivoli Music System Home Gen 2 and found that it had a very pleasing and ‘listenable’ sound to it. Speaking voices come over as very natural making listening for a long time very non-fatiguing.

Switching to Qobuz via Roon and sending it to the Tivoli via Apple AirPlay 2 (this being the Roon workaround) and feeling in a nostalgic mood I went for a ‘Manchestaaaar’ involving classics like Oasis ‘Some Might Say’, Verve ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and the student/indie night classic James ‘Sit Down’.

Overall the Tivoli is an enjoyable listen for music with a good, full sound and no distortion, even when you turn it up loud. Being picky I would say that it could do with a bit more bass, but the bass that is there is nicely controlled and dry. This was evident when playing more electronic and dance-orientated tracks such as tunes from Daft Punk’s RAM.

Mids and tops were really nice, strings, lead and acoustic guitar, and vocals sound particularly good…anything a bit ‘jangly guitar’ and indie sounding was notably enjoyable like Stone Roses ‘Waterfall’ and The Charlatans ‘The Only One I Know’. Joy Division ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ sounded rather excellent with the sharp guitar and deadpan vocal though ‘Blue Monday’ would have been better with more oomph in the bass department.

The Tivoli is not as room-filling as some all-in-one systems I’ve heard but would be great in a small room, even so, it didn’t get lost in the position I had it between our main listening room and lounge area.

It is worth mentioning here that the Music System Home generation 2 can be paired with Tivoli’s Model Sub subwoofer to gain more bass, though obviously, this would depend on whether you want to spend the extra 379€ and if you want to have the extra unit.

CONCLUSION

The Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2 is essentially a premium quality and premium styled radio. If you listen to a lot of radio and you want a nice stylish unit that is very easy to use and has a lot of connection options, then this would be a great choice. If you also like to stream music, then it has that covered too, but you would want to consider the subwoofer option if you are a lover of music that is bass-driven. Would be a good option to put in your bedroom or kitchen to use when not running your main system, though if you are a hardcore Roon user you need to note that it is not Roon Ready, though you can use Roon through Airplay or Chromecast.

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Generation 2

AT A GLANCE

Build Quality: Lovely build quality, looks and feels expensive.

Sound Quality: Great mids and tops, good bass quality but this is not a bass-forward product. Very natural spoken voice quality.

Value For Money: It’s essentially an expensive radio, Roon Readyness would increase its VFM. If looks are important to you then it is good VFM.

We Loved:

Lovely styling would look great in any room.

Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 being built in, easy to cast app content from phone or tablet.

Eco-friendly packaging

We Didn’t Love So Much:

Not Roon Ready

Dropouts with Chromecast

Price: £799/899€

Elevator Pitch Review: A stylish but pricey Radio with easy internet connection and streaming options. Good, natural sound. Would suit Radio 4 listeners rather than Dubstep fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linette Smith

Supplied by Tivoli Audio EU

Review Equipment: Google Pixel 3XL, Apple iPad Mini, Amazon Fire 8 HD, Qobuz, Roon.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 41 x 16,5 x 22,1 cm (17,7 without legs), 4,9 kg

Wi-Fi

DAB+ / FM / AM radio (DAB+ in available market)

Airplay 2 and Google Chromecast built-in

Spotify® Connect

Bluetooth®

Aux input

3.5 mm audio output

Quick Bluetooth® pairing for Model Sub to expand the audio range of the Music System Home Gen 2

Ethernet port

Optical input

Full-function remote control

Streamline navigation through simple hands on controls

2 x 3.5-inch 20W woofer

2 x 0.75-inch 8W tweeter

Four Channel Amplifier

Stream audio from all Airplay 2 and Google Chromecast supported services such as Spotify®, Apple Music, Google Play, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, TuneIn, and more.

Optical input or Wi-Fi options to support video

Available in three real wood cabinet finishes

Fabric speaker grill

This product can connect with other Airplay 2 and Google Chromecast built-in speakers. This product cannot Wi-Fi connect with Generation 1 ART products.

Read more HiFi Reviews here!

 

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