For those of you looking for big sound but from a small unit, the Arcam rCube is the definition of what you are looking for and then some.
The award winning Arcam rCube is among the best sounding iPod speaker docks i have listened to over the last year or so, and the fact that it all comes from a small and portable package is even more astounding.
Arcam rCube – design and features
If you are not familiar with the Arcam rCube, don’t expect it to be a stand-out design in comparison to the B&W Zeppelin or B&O BeoSound 8 systems of this world, but the cubed design is actually just as unique and recognizable.
A cube that measures 200mm x 200mm x 200mm and weighs in at about 5kg, available in gloss black or white will fit in almost anywhere and any setting, without standing out for the wrong reasons. But it is when you turn it on that it really opens eyes.
Inside the Arcam rCube you will find a 100mm bass/mid-driver and 25mm tweeters, backed up by no less than 3 amplifiers that combined output an impressive 90w. Not bad for a cube that size. The speakers are actually located to each side of the unit, so the optimum placement is actually in a corner to allow the sound to bounce off the walls.
The iPod dock itself is situated at the top of the rCube beneath a flap which is also used to conceal the handle that you can use for carrying the device around with you. After all, the Arcam rCube is actually a portable speaker dock as it comes with a pre-installed rechargeable lithium-ion battery. In front of the docking station at the top you will also find a few touchcontrolled buttons for control use in case you are not using the remote control that comes with the rCube.
At the rear of the rCube you will also find the 3.5mm input, composite video output, component video output, USB input for firmware upgrades (maybe for future Apple Airplay upgrades??), the power switch, and a ‘bass’ button that can be activated to boost low frequencies if the rCube is placed in an open space and you want a bit more depth to the sound.
Stream your music to the rCube
You don’t have to have your iPod / iPhone docked to the rCube to be able to enjoy the music as the rCube also comes with wireless capabilities. At the moment it is not however an Apple Airplay speaker, so you do require an adaptor called an rWand for your iOS device to stream the music to the rCube. Or if you are streaming from your computer, you need an rWave USB dongle. Both of the accessories are extras with an extra cost unfortunately.
The wireless functionality does however also mean that you can send and receive between rCube speakers, potentially using several rCube speakers to create an even bigger sound.
We are also keeping hope up that Arcam might soon release a firmware upgrade that will open up Apple Airplay functionality for the rCube.
The important part – the sound
It is not the design or wireless functionality that makes the rCube stand out from the crowd, but the actual sound that it produces.
Arcam has taken their time to enter the iPhone speaker dock market, and it looks like they have spent the time really well, because the rCube does everything you could expect from an iPod speaker dock when it comes to sound. Without being an audio expert, but instead an avid lover of music, i had no problems understanding that the rCube mastered the output of the music to my listening pleasure. The bass was powerful, yet controlled, not overpowering the midrange and high frequencies, which is often a problem in one or the other direction with compact speaker docks.
I can understand how the Arcam rCube has been awarded with amongst other the What HI-FI product of the year for iPod docks.
The Arcam rCube is available from amongst other the following UK retailers.