Tivoli Audio SongBook portable radio

Tivoli Audio SongBook radio: A portable AM/FM radio with pleasant sound for its small size

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Tivoli Audio SongBook portable radio
  • Tivoli Audio SongBook portable radio
  • Tivoli Audio SongBook portable radio
  • Tivoli Audio SongBook portable radio
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • Clear sound quality with warm mid-range, great AM/FM radio reception

Cons

  • Far too expensive for a simple AM/FM radio -- it needs to include DAB+ at the very least

Bottom Line

Tivoli Audio's SongBook portable radio is aimed at professional travellers. It has a great quality AM/FM tuner and excellent sound quality for its compact size, but it lacks DAB or DAB+ digital radio and is very expensive. It's a pretty product that should fit nicely in a jetsetting executive's briefcase.

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The Tivoli Audio SongBook is a premium radio — it has great sound given its size, it's well built and we think it's attractive — but it comes with a seriously premium price tag. At $399 it's not going to be a product you pick up in the department store when your old radio breaks, but we can see it being taken out of the box for an executive's picnic trip.

Tivoli Audio SongBook: Design and construction

The SongBook is, for a transistor radio, quite tall but reasonably slim — it is roughly the same size as a thick paperback. Its telescopic aerial slots into the body at the top, and all the buttons on the front are clearly labelled. You've got five presets for AM stations and five FM ones, and the radio has clock and alarm functions. If you don't mind its size (it will easily fit into a day-pack or briefcase), it would be a nice hotel-room companion on a domestic or international trip.

The Tivoli Audio SongBook is well constructed, with a high quality glossy painted finish on its fascia. It feels dense and not at all cheap — although tipping the scales at 810g with batteries loaded it might be a bit heavy for lightweight jet-setters. It's water-resistant, with the side-mounted audio input, headphone jack and DC power socket protected by rubber plugs, although Tivoli doesn't go so far as to suggest it's waterproof. It's important to note that the Tivoli Audio SongBook does not have DAB+ digital radio compatibility — it's just a good ol' analog radio, albeit one with a high price tag.

Tivoli Audio SongBook: Features and sound quality

Like with the Tivoli Audio Model One, the SongBook extracts excellent audio from a small speaker — we measure it at around 2.5in, but it has simultaneously warm mid-range and very clear treble. This pleasantly musical sound persists from low volumes all the way to moderately loud — only at maximum volume, which is surprisingly loud, does the SongBook's sound quality start to become slightly unhinged and harsh. Unless you're listening in a large room, or outdoors more than a couple of metres away from the radio, you won't need to hit maximum volume. For almost all users the Tivoli Audio SongBook will have more than adequate sound quality — it's possibly the best we've heard from a portable radio.

As well as tuning in (with the help of the digital tuner which lets you hit station frequencies spot-on, rather than an analog dial) to AM and FM radio, the Tivoli Audio SongBook has an auxiliary input port on the side to which you can connect any 3.5mm-compatible device. We used an Apple iPhone 4 for most of our testing, but you could also hook up an MP3 player or portable media player — the SongBook acts as a useful portable speaker to boost your music player's sound output, even if it is a bit bulky for this purpose.

Tivoli Audio SongBook: Conclusion

The price is what holds the Tivoli Audio SongBook back from being an easy recommendation. If it were $100 or $150 cheaper we'd have no hesitations in recommending it to mainstream buyers, thanks to its impressive sound quality. At $399, it's restricted to buyers with deep pockets.

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