Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The sexiest stereo in town

If you've shopped for audio components in recent years, you know that the gravitational pull of the iPod has been, well, planetary. The beautifully designed Apple dingus has always been half consumer electronics device and half fashion statement—the digital equivalent of a brass Zippo lighter, say, or a pair of tortoise-shell Wayfarers. The essence of cool, weighted perfectly for your hand.

But the entire audio industry has, with its ham-fisted design department, either ignored the lessons of iPod, or worse, tried to emulate them. The result? There is very little beauty in the world of audio components, boomboxes, and shelf consoles. It's hard to take an industry seriously that comes up with beige as the most radical alternative to black or silver--and we're just talking about the color of the box!

Cue Tivoli Audio. The boutique electronics corp. has introduced a line of gorgeous radios and CD players that are an aesthetic throwback to a simpler and more sturdy time. Tivoli's Model One radio is an icon of simplicity boxed in real furniture-grade hardwoods like cherry and walnut. (When was the last time you saw a real wood stereo amplifier?)

What may be niftiest about these lovely little tuners is that the retro styling comes without the retro shelf-space. In other words, Tivoli's radios are fully modern and digital on the inside, meaning they are scaled to perfection: Not too big, not too small, a stylish addition to any living room bookshelf or armoir.

We just happened to notice that Target carried the line for the holidays—we first saw at the downtown Target, and later conquered at the Bloomington Greatland. And somewhere between the two, we recalled that Minnesota Public Radio, ever on the hunt for premiums its members will actually like, has in recent years offered Tivoli radios at certain pledge levels. And when we saw that Dave and Joyce, our coolest friends, had already wired one up over their new hearth—well, it was easy to drop the totally humane sum of $400 to join the solid state of the art in radio design. For that kind of money, forget the Bose Wave. Trade some functional overkill (like radio pre-sets and multiple disk loaders—you're listening to music, is it really that hard to get up and turn the dial after 50 minutes?) for a sleek, stylish, and classy look.

Tivoli audio:
Target electronics department:

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