Image: Hugh Threlfall
October 02 2010
You can’t beat a perfect cube when it comes to design. But you can beat the vast majority of music players that purport to be ideal for use on patio or poolside, at party or picnic. (Yes, this paragraph comes to you sponsored by the letter “p”.)
Portable players (there I go again) are, by and large, not a hugely evolved breed. They usually sound a bit tinny (or muffled) – or need plugging into the mains, which somewhat defeats the object. Even the greatest one-box stereo music player of all, the Meridian F80 – on about which I often bang (and which now has a fine, leather-covered brother, the M80) – only runs when receiving 220 of God’s finest volts.
What about this, then? The rCube is scintillatingly designed, smaller than a football, dishes out proper stereophonic hi-fi, but is also portable and capable of playing at full volume for four hours on a charge.
Since it comes from one of Meridian’s fancy hi-fi neighbours in the Cambridge-Huntingdon Silicon Fen I’d be very surprised if the rCube makes it into Argos. Yes, the rCube is by Arcam. It’s the latest in those clever boys’ run of exquisitely understated products for normal people who want high-end without nerdiness. The normal people to whom I refer are, of course, often known as “women”.
Funnily enough, it was in a Fashion edition of How To Spend It a couple of years ago that I introduced Arcam’s Solo, a super-simple one-box but nonetheless serious hi-fi. Not that I am saying Arcam is a “girlie” brand or that men won’t be ecstatic about the rCube, Solo or any of its other beautiful things – but it’s inescapable that cool girls love Arcam, like they love Apple, for that matter.
Let me wax for a moment about the rCube’s streaming prowess. There’s a dongle for iPod/Phone/Pad, which uses a non-Bluetooth (hurrah!) system called Kleer and will work from 10m away in free space. There’s also a USB-powered dongle to plug into your computer that will whizz perfect music through 50m of air. Both are terrific.