Arcam spent three years perfecting this unassuming cube, and yes, all the expensive stuff is on the inside. The British brand has used the same capacitors and amps found in its high-end FMJ hi-fi components and blessed it with wireless streaming and a battery offering up to eight hours of playtime. Arcam recons it’s the ultimate iPod dock and we’re inclined to agree.
The eight-inch cube is shrouded in black fabric and topped off with a high-gloss black lacquer finish, so what you can’t see is the ultra-rigid MDF framework that hold the two speakers firm and creates the weight that further helps reduce unwanted vibrations.
The two drive units face diagonally forwards and outwards so you get a spread of sound that also manages a convincing stereo image without a definite sweet spot. It likes best to be placed in a corner, where the speakers can use the two walls to reinforce the sound waves and bounce them forward.
From this commanding stance, the 10cm mid-bass units, powered by 90W RMS of silky smooth amplification can generate enough bass to drive a really large living room. It’s a warm tone with surprisingly deep bass extension for a dock, but importantly, the bass never swamps the mid-band. And at the other end of the frequency spectrum, two 25mm aluminium tweeters supply a sweet treble that hits the high notes while avoiding sibilance.
Classical music is perfect for showing off the impressive separation of its wide-open mid-band and deliciously detailed top end. But it’s a fairly neutral tone, that just leans towards bass warmth, which means it loves to rock out too – in a refined way of course. Even at full volume, it retains control and doesn’t show any major distortion.
And the rCube’s unique party trick? A Lithium-Ion battery providing up to eight hours of outdoor playtime. Naturally, this dips a bit when you’re streaming wirelessly, but given how few docks come with a battery, it’s still a major feature.
When the flap guarding the delicate docking port is flipped open, the cover becomes a backrest for your iDevice and reveals the handle that allows you to roam free while still listening to your tunes.
And if you really want to show off, £70 buys you an rWand iPod dongle, so you can continue listening with your iPhone in your pocket. Alternatively, £80 bags you an rWave USB dongle that grants you CD-quality wireless access to the music on your computer. For superior sound quality, great design and flexible features, rCube is the new dock on the block.
Posted by Jim Hill