TDK chose IFA 2012 to showcase the next step in the evolution of its Life on Record range of audio products. The new Boombox and Sound Cube models include Bluetooth technology for wireless audio streaming from mobile devices, and have been joined by a weatherproofed portable speaker.
The first wave of Life on Record audio products launched early last year were big, booming and beautiful and this same arresting approach has been brought to the new batch of Bluetooth-enabled additions. For this latest outing, however, TDK's designers have taken a less-is-more approach that makes use of sinister matte blacks with gold and silver accents for an even more striking look.
All of the new additions feature proprietary Signature Sound technology developed by the company's Acoustic Research Lab engineers, which is claimed to deliver music the way it was intended to be heard. A smooth frequency response curve is said to start with extended (but not overpowering) bass that rises to a mid-range response that allows high-mids to shine before moving onto extended treble to capture the harmonics of instruments occupying the upper range.
Introducing the new kid on the block first, the Wireless Weatherproof Speaker's IP64 certified weatherproof design makes it splash- and dust-proof as opposed to fully waterproof. It features two front 1.5-inch full range drivers, two rear 3-inch passive radiators and one 2.5-inch subwoofer and is powered by a rechargeable battery for portability. There's a one amp USB charging port, a 3.5 mm auxiliary input for wired audio device connection, an integrated microphone for hands-free calling through a paired smartphone and the face can be tilted back by flipping out the included front bottom kickstand.
Europe's biggest trade show is perhaps not the best location for a first date with this Life on Record newcomer so I will refrain from commenting on the output, only to say that it did seem capable of making quite a bit of noise for such a small unit. Perhaps it's just me but I got the feeling that the fast-paced, drum and bass heavy tracks being continuously looped were the strongest indication of where TDK imagines this product will find a home – the younger mobile music lover rather than an aging would-be audiophile like myself.
The Wireless Weatherproof Speaker carries a suggested retail price of US$249.95.
When streaming audio from an AAC-enabled source device over Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, TDK says that the new Wireless Boombox strips away the compression layer to give the listener the truest, near lossless sound possible. This drool-inducing model features two 2-inch full range drivers and two 5.25-inch passive radiators at the front, and one 5.25-inch subwoofer at the rear. There's a 3.5 mm auxiliary input, a USB charging port (2.1 amps), an included FM radio with internal antenna and a headphone output jack. Users can also control playback via a remote control unit.
The heavy D-class batteries of the original Boombox have also been ditched in favor of a rechargeable internal battery that's claimed to offer up to six hours of continuous playback between charges, although we were left wanting when we tried to find out what kind of battery is housed within this portable audio giant.
The Wireless Boombox has a suggested retail price of US$399.95.
Unlike the other new arrivals to the Life on Record range, the Wireless Sound Cube has been designed for home use and is powered by mains only. It is claimed to deliver 360 degrees of room-filling audio output via its four 2-inch full range drivers, two 5.25-inch passive radiators and one 5.25-inch subwoofer, and can be switched from omni-directional to directional sound mode for optimal listening.
The Cube has the same wireless audio streaming specs as the Boombox and also benefits from a USB charging port, 3.5 mm auxiliary input and remote control. It's suggested retail price is US$299.95.