Does the world really need yet another iPod speaker dock? At the low end of the market I think not but at the high end there is always room for a speaker system that works with your iOS device, is easily portable AND gives great sound. That is a lot to ask for from a system that is meant to go wherever you do but ARCAM’s rCube promises to deliver exactly that. As the company’s promotional material explains,
rCube is a listening revolution, delivering high fidelity from a single, beautiful package that’s portable and has wireless audio streaming. rCube offers amazing sound from a cube smaller than a football. It’s powerful enough for a party, but engineered to deliver exceptional clarity even at low volume. It uses cutting-edge technology and manufacturing excellence, as you’d expect from Arcam.
The rCube’s nondescript looks belie the speaker’s power, convenience and, apparently, the sound. Because it is portable, has a built-in handle and offers up to 8 hours of high quality sound while on battery, the rCube can go from room to room with you and eliminate the need for various speaker systems throughout the house. That’s a good thing considering the system has an MRP of $799. (More on that in a moment.)
Among the key features of the rCube:
Cube to cube streaming: Any rCube can wirelessly stream music to another rCube in the same vicinity, sharing music simultaneously with other rooms in a house.
Integrated carrying handle: A simple flap on top of the rCube opens to reveal the dock connector for your iPod or iPhone and a sturdy carry handle for transporting your rCube.
Charging dock: The dock connector on top of the rCube charges your iPod or iPhone while connected. Charging can be disabled using the supplied remote control.
Full remote control: The rCube comes complete with a remote handset for control the rCube and its connected iPod / iPhone.
Long playing rechargeable battery: To offer true portability the rCube is fitted with a heavy-duty Lithium-Ion battery delivering up to 8 hours of continuous playback before recharging is required.
Multiple streaming: Music can be streamed to up to four rCubes simultaneously from your iPhone / iPod / iPad (using rWand) or PC/MAC computer (using rWave).
Video connection: Video playback from compatible iPod / iPhones is possible via the rCube’s composite or component video outputs. For component video connection a dedicated accessory cable is required.
The rCube works with the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 3G, the iPod Touch (3rd Generation), the iPod Classic (6th Generation) and the iPod nano (5th Generation). You can dock those devices using the hidden dock/handle in the top of the rCube. You can also stream music from an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad but that requires use of the rWand, a dongle that attaches to the dock connector. You can also stream from a computer using the rWave USB dongle.
As someone who has fallen deeply in like with streaming music via AirPlay this is kind of a drag. After all, needing to physically connect a dongle to the iDevice feels so 2009! Yes it provides far better sound quality than you get over BlueTooth but if you don’t have the dongle with you you don’t get to stream. It is a judgement call as to which you prefer but both approaches have their downside.
There’s another downside to the rWand and the rWave: they come as additional accessories. That is not a big deal until you consider that the rCube’s $799. Add in both accessories at an additional $50 each and you have a speaker dock that is just a Benjamin under a grand. That’s a hefty sum to pay for a portable speaker system but if you love your music the rCube IS one of a few speaker docks in the upper echelon at the moment.
More information on the rCube can be found on the ARCAM website. You won;t find a “Buy” button there however since ARCAM takes its music seriously and wants you to as well. As the company explains,
Why no “Buy It Now”? You may have noticed the absence of “buy it now” or “add to basket” logos on our website. Arcam’s promise has always been to deliver a truly musical performance, maybe even a magical experience, from your Arcam product. Often this requires a great deal of expertise, not just from the design engineers who worried over every little detail of your system but also in choosing sonically compatible products and in setting up. No remote online or mail order purchase can deliver on this promise – you need to go to one of our expert dealers to achieve the best from your system.
If you love your music, have deep wallets and are a big user of iOS devices the rCube is worth a look. This is a premium priced device that brings premium sound and features along for the ride.