Last year, I was in a quandary... I'd grown tired of dealing with the complexity of the 5.1 audio system I had integrated with my living room big screen television (a Philips 42PFP5332D... my review of which you'll find elsewhere on this site) & I was looking around for a more manageable alternative. There were the so-called “sound bars” that looked promising, but they were essentially nothing more than amplified speaker enclosures. Other products, such as the ones from Bose (specifically their Wave Radio) seemed to fit my requirements much more closely. After all, not only was it an amplified speaker with axillary inputs and all sorts of tricky phase circuitry to give the listener the illusion of a “wide” sound pattern, but it also a built-in CD player & AM/FM tuner (a real plus for me since I listen to audio at home more than I watch television). This is all well-&-good, but I damn-near had an aneurism when I went down to the local Bose retailer & saw the price!
Recommend this product?
Back to the drawing board.
My first course of action was to do a Google search for “Bose Wave Radio equivalent” (or something to that affect). There were several models that popped up, but one seemed to stand out among the others... that being the i765 from Cambridge SoundWorks. It had all the features that I like in the Bose product... plus, it was black (thus making it a good aesthetic match for my TV) and had an iPod dock (a feature which didn't “wow” me at the time, but one that I later came to appreciate). The real kicker (& indeed, ultimate deciding factor) was the fact that Cambridge was, at that time, selling the i765 factory-direct for just $299.00. That was (I'm told) $100.00 off of the MSRP & about half the price of the Wave Radio. I couldn't order it fast enough!
As previously stated, my intent was to feed the audio output from my program source (in this case, my Uverse box) into the unit as to work in conjunction with my television as it's defacto audio system. Fair enough, but before I go slobbering all over the i765 & telling you how wonderful it is, I will first point out what I feel is it's singular flaw; that is that the aux input is located on the unit's FRONT PANEL. I'm sure that what the designers had in mind was a convenient jack into which the user could plug their MP3 player, but for someone like me who intends to have a signal source fed permanently into the AUX channel, one is required to discreetly run a small cable terminated with a stereo mini phone plug to provide the source. This is exactly what I did... I scouted around for a nicely made, molded 90-degree plug assembly (black, in order to blend in with that face of the unit), routed it & properly terminated it. Problem solved.
The quality of sound produced by this (relatively) small device is remarkable. Unlike the Wave Radio (which uses a system of baffles to produce low frequencies), the i765 incorporates an actual sub-woofer. I have personally worked in the commercial audio industry for more than 20 years & I can say from experience that I typically DO NOT “approve” of sub-woofers in general... a uni-dimensional low-frequency “thud” is NOT the same thing as accurate bass response (while I was waiting for it to arrive, I kept trying to rationalize by telling myself “...maybe I can by-pass the sub-woofer...”)
My fears were for naught. The speaker elements incorporated into the system are well balanced & that "dreaded" woofer actually succeeds in producing a fairly accurate & pleasant low-frequency response. The built it equalization circuits will allow you access to more treble or bass frequency than you'll ever need.
The radio receiver has a nice amount of sensitivity to weaker signals in both the AM and FM bands (both bands require the attachment of external antennas (included) in order to receive anything but the strongest local stations, but this is often a characteristic of well-made receivers). The receiver's RDS (Radio Data System) works well with all but the weakest FM signals.
[Note: When I refer to an "external" antenna, I'm actually referring to the AM "loop" and/or the FM wire antenna that are included & mount directly adjacent to the radio (as opposed to any sort of "outdoor" external aerial... though such an antenna - especially with regards to FM reception - would certainly yield improved results FYI.]
One feature of the i765 that I must have overlooked before placing my order, but which I was pleasantly surprised to discover upon it's arrival was the fact that it contains a DVD player. I'm not one who's in any great hurry to migrate over to Blue Ray technology any time soon, so the i765's standard-format player suits my needs just fine. This was a revelation considering that I was able to further simplify my audio/visual system to the point where it included just the TV, the Uverse box & the i765. Period (simplification being my original goal). The presence of the iPod dock just makes my now-streamline and efficient A/V system that much more versatile (plus, it allows me to send video from my iPod straight to my television).
The i765 comes complete with a multi-function remote control, necessary cables, simple antennas (that will be good enough for most users) and very detailed and comprehensive instructions that will assist the user in having the unit up and working in no-time.
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