Henry Kloss was a very well known figure in audio circles, the co-founder in 1952 of Acoustic Research and the developer of the first acoustic suspension loudspeaker, which changed the face of loudspeaker design. In 1988, Henry co-founded Cambridge SoundWorks with long-time associate Tom DeVesto, offering factory direct savings in hi-fi and multimedia speakers. In 2000, at the age of 70, Henry emerged from retirement to once again team-up with DeVesto to produce the critically acclaimed Tivoli Model One table radio. This one-piece radio with a wood cabinet has been a big seller and is still offered today, in a wide range of finishes.
Tivoli Audio now makes a wide range of portable and table radios. The subject of this review is the Model Two, which is a stereo version of the Model One, this time comprising two cherry-wood cabinets. Also on test is the Model CD Player. Put these two together and you get the package known as the Radio Works.
Instead of a standard, off-the-shelf integrated circuit, the Model Two uses a state of the art, discrete-component FM tuner featuring GaAs MES-FET mixers. Originally developed for cellular telephones, the Model One was the first radio to adopt this technology for better FM reception and increased clarity on closely spaced stations. The dominant feature on the face of this radio is the large tuning dial featuring 5 to 1 gearing which makes it really easy to make fine adjustments. I would prefer more contrast between the tuning scale and the faceplate so I can read the frequencies more easily but Tivoli does give us a tuning indicator that glows at full brightness when you reach optimum tuning. A volume control and a selector between AM, FM, Aux and Off completes the user controls, while a 3-inch speaker and an on/off light complete the front panel. On the rear panel there is a balance control, the right speaker output, a 12-16V DC input, a 120V AC input, an external FM antenna connection and switch, a headphone mini plug outlet, a subwoofer output, a tape output, inputs for a CD player (Aux) and an extra input suitable for mixing with the tuner or the Aux input. To the left of these connections is a port for the left speaker.
The second box is much simpler in layout - just the right speaker in a matching box. The rear panel has a port and a long captive speaker cable that terminates to a phono plug, which you insert into the rear of the radio.
Under AC power the Model Two offers a surprisingly rich sound. The tuner found 16 strong stations using its internal FM antenna, and 23 where I attached my ancient Technics SH-F101 FM Wing antenna. My GE tranny managed 19. On the AM band, the Model Two found 24 stations to the GE's 20. Still it's not the number of stations that impresses, it's the full rich sound. Of course at $159.99 it costs a lot more than the GE, but I would say it's money well spent. The tuner really locks in the stations well, and brings a surprising presence and liveliness to the listening. The stereo separation is excellent and if you place the speakers far enough apart and at the very front of the shelf or table you are using to support them, you get quite a decent stereo image. There is not a great deal of high frequency extension and there is a small amount of sibilance to the human voice, but the bass extension is remarkable for the small cabinet size, and I doubt you'll have much need of that subwoofer option (only $79.99 by the way) unless you're a head-banger.
The third box, the Model CD, is the same size as the radio and the right speaker. On the front panel there is the usual array of CD controls, a status panel and a slot for the CD. The back panel has a 12V DC input and phono and headphone outputs. This CD player is very responsive and comes with a credit card sized remote control. Unusually the volume up / down buttons on the remote control adjust the output of the CD player rather than the amplifier level in the Model Two Radio. So you actually get two independent volume controls in this system. It's a pity Tivoli did not include remote control sensors into the Model Two giving us remote selection of source, tuning as well as volume. The CD player gives a robust sound, closely matching the radio's performance on a strong signal, but a shade better balanced across the frequency range.
The Henry Kloss Model Two gets my firm recommendation as a fine stereo table radio at a price you can afford. It has presence and sounds eminently musical within a limited range of volumes and frequencies. And you're going to love twiddling that dial. But the Model CD seems like an afterthought. You need a separate power source, and the remote control doesn't integrate with the Model Two. It's also relatively expensive at $199.99. It works well enough, but I would prefer to see a two-box arrangement with the CD player built into the Radio cabinet and remote control over all functions.
You can read more about Henry Kloss, who passed away in 2002, in the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.
Henry Kloss Model Two
Type: AM/FM stereo radio
Drivers: two 3" full range drivers
Height: 8.375 x 4.5 x 5.25 (WxHxD in inches)
Weight: 9 lbs.
Type: Front loading, stereo compact disc player
Formats: CD and CD-R
Height: 8.375 x 4.5 x 5.25 (WxHxD in inches)
Weight: 4.5 lbs.