May 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Venerable Tivoli Audio Joins Music App Revolution via Bluetooth

tivoli audio

The venerable Tivoli Audio Model One BT adds Bluetooth connectivity to the company's classic design, linking up to Tivoli's new radio app as well as any other smartphone audio app (photo: Eliot Van Buskirk).

For those of us who fondly recall seeing the legendary Tivoli (then called KLH) radio on the kitchen counter-top of our childhood, it’s nice to know that not only is Tivoli Audio still around, but it’s on-board with the music app revolution. At a press luncheon in Manhattan on Wednesday, Tivoli Audio unveiled their newest products not only to‘s resident MTV NILF nominee, but to other members of the New York-based technology press corp.

Tivoli Audio’s new line-up features not only Tivoli’s first-ever music app, but a fresh selection of app-friendly hardware:

  • The classic Model One BT ($260, pictured top right), an update to the Model One many of us already know and love, features a Bluetooth connection for Tivoli’s and other music apps;
  • the Pal BT Portable Audio Laboratory ($300, pictured below left) updates that design into a weather-resistant vertical format with a rechargeable battery that charges in three hours and lasts “for hours” (Tivoli doesn’t specify how many) so you can bring it out on the deck;
  • and a standalone Bluetooth receiver called BlueCon (summer 2012, $150, pictured bottom) that lets you send audio from any smartphone app to any stereo system.
tivoli pal BT

The Tivoli Audio Pal BT Portable Audio Laboratory works with any music app on any Bluetooth-capable device, which is all smartphones plus other supported devices.

Tivoli’s radio app is hardly adventurous; it’s quite simple, including 100 streaming radio options categorized by genre. According to what Tivoli Audio vice president of sales Dave Rodriguez told during our exclusive interview, that’s because Tivoli’s customers said those were their favorite channels, and that they just wanted a simple way to access them. If your taste in apps runs a bit more adventurous, again, you can use all of the company’s Bluetooth stuff with any other music app.

But with so many wireless options available — Apple AirPlay (for iOS or even Android), DLNA, and straight-up Wi-Fi — why did Tivoli choose Bluetooth for bridging the gap between smartphones and its great-sounding (albeit mono, unless you use the BluCon adapter) radio units?

“We just feel like we didn’t want to limit our customers to a particular product or brand — in the case of AirPlay, it’s really exclusive to Apple,” said Rodriguez. (It’s true that AirPlay is an Apple technology, although we did find Android apps that work with it.)

“We have done extensive research on Bluetooth, and we realized that it is really the future,” he added. “It is the best solution for just about any kind of MP3 player or device that uses Bluetooth, and there’s no limitation. If you have Bluetooth built into your device be it your iPad, your MP3 player, your Android phone — it doesn’t matter. They’re all compatible with our devices… once you pair your device with one of our radios, you don’t ever have to do it again… for us, it’s the simplest solution, and that’s what our radios are all about.”

He confirmed that as with all Bluetooth connections, these ones are good for a minimum of 30 feet between the player and the speaker.

 Tivoli also showed off its handsome new Radio Silenz headphones, with a nice wooden finish and active noise cancellation. We’ve tried them, ant they have a nice lightweight feel and sound quite nice with or without the active noise cancellation turned on (we verified that it is capable of attenuating consistent background noise quite a bit). In addition to a volume knob, they come with a “defeat” button that lets you hear announcements on the plane or airplane by muting the music — a nice touch for frequent travelers.

Plus, the wood finish looks really cool. According to Tivoli Audio, it leads to a more natural sound. Whether this look is worth $160 retail is your call (other active noise cancellation headphones also run upwards of $100), but one thing they won’t do is get stuck in your ear requiring medical intervention:

tivoli_radio_silenzAnd here’s that photo of the BluCon adapter ($150), which takes the audio from any smartphone app and plays it over the speakers of your choice at a high quality, because it uses frequency hopping to avoid interference and apparently consumes a minimum of power:

tivoli audio blucon