Grundig Ovation II
- USB slot, slick design
- A tad expensive
A very stylish player that's got good performance to boot, and unfortunately a matching price tag
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
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The Ovation II is another of Grundig's "lifestyle" micro CD players, representing a small step up from its sibling, the ingeniously named Ovation I. We very much liked the design of the Ovation I as it was small, attractive and easy to use. The Ovation II offers a slight improvement on many of the original's features, though we're not sure a fifty percent price hike is entirely justified.
We thought the Ovation I was pretty slick but the design of the Ovation II takes things to another level entirely. With sharp lines, reflective surfaces and plenty of silver, the Ovation II is very much a space age Hi-Fi, even coming with its own flying saucer remote control. When inserting a disc the whole mirrored top of the player slides open to reveal the CD holder bathed in blue light. It's certainly a very attractive player; yet how often do we see outstanding aesthetics that aren't backed up with performance to match?
Thankfully, the Ovation II, like its predecessor, avoids this potential pitfall. All too often these micro Hi-Fi units are underpowered and completely lacking in bass; after all, there's only so much you can expect from 10cm speakers. With this knowledge Grundig have added a magical third speaker to the Ovation II. Yes, according to Grundig it really is magical. Magic or not, it certainly sounds good. The third speaker essentially performs as a subwoofer, punching out strong bass to complement the other two speakers. The Ovation II boasts a sound beyond its size, with nicely balanced tones and a lovely sense of warmth that's especially suited to heavier styles. Still, the Ovation II isn't going to shatter the windows and is really only suitable for smaller rooms, such as the bedroom or a petite living room.
One great feature that wasn't present on the Ovation I is the USB slot. This means that music can be pulled off any USB capable drive. Navigating tracks from USB drives can often be a tortuous procedure and while the Ovation II doesn't offer a fantastic interface it's more than adequate. Songs can either be selected individually or by album. Albums are created by using different folders on the USB drive. The Ovation II then extracts ID3 tags to show the song, artist and album. Unfortunately, Grundig have chosen to only show the filename of the song by default, which is quite bizarre. This means that you have to explicitly request ID3 song data for each track individually. Why this couldn't be set as a default option is bewildering. The usual programmable options such as random play and repeating albums are included. In fact, we found the Ovation II easier to use than some dedicated portable music players. MP3s and WMA files are both supported and work flawlessly, as well as MP3 CDs. The final feature of note is the radio, which by all accounts is just a radio. Though it does support RDS tags which always good to see.
Overall the Ovation II is a great little machine, even better than the Ovation I. However, the only real advantage the Ovation II offers is sleeker styling and a USB slot. Admittedly, it has slightly more powerful speakers, but nobody is going to buy either player on the strength of its acoustic brunt. So basically it comes down to this: do you want to pay $200 more for a USB slot. We certainly wouldn't. Both players offer line in so there's the option of attaching MP3 players anyway. We don't think the price increase is really worth it. Having said that, the mirrored sliding door has kept us amused for hours and that's worth the $200 alone.
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