I’m old enough to remember when a stereo was a 5-foot-long piece of wooden furniture.
Fortunately, stereos have evolved, and you can get really good sound out of much smaller components.
When we married, my wife had a decent stereo with a turntable that was about 4 feet tall with rather large speakers.
We ditched that system, and now we just play all our music from our phones and computers.
In fact, the sound system in my house is a mix of Sonos speakers, which is a whole-home music system. We have a pair of speakers in the living room, one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom, a pair in the bedroom and one speaker in the guest room.
My wife is a teacher’s aide, and she carries a Bluetooth speaker in her school bag so she can play music for her classroom.
This week I have been testing a new music system from Tivoli Audio called the Model One Digital (Generation 2), which is $349.99.
The Model One Digital is a tabletop speaker with a classic design. The cabinet is made of real wood and is available in three finishes — walnut, white or black ash.
The single speaker is covered in a tweed material that reminds me of those console stereos from the 1970s.
Tivoli has always made sure the designs for its cabinets are as important as the sound from its speakers, and it really shows.
Tivoli radios have always featured control dials instead of push buttons.
The dial around the display is a control ring. The radio includes a remote that makes it a bit easier to control the music, especially from across the room.
The Gen 2 model is a hybrid. It still has an FM radio, but it is designed to play music from your phone, tablet or computer in a variety of ways.
The first generation of the Model One Digital used an app to get the music to the speaker, but Gen 2 uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, including Apple’s AirPlay 2 (for iPhones) and Google’s Chromecast (for Android) so you can use any music app you have to stream directly to the speaker. It also has a 3.5-millimeter aux-in port to play from any device with a headphone jack.
The Tivoli Model One measures 4.5 by 8.7 by 5.5 inches, and it weighs 3.4 pounds.
Out of the box, the Tivoli Model One Digital can play FM radio with the aid of a telescoping antenna on the back.
You can pair your phone, tablet or computer via Bluetooth to stream directly to the speaker.
If the Model One is placed in an area with Wi-Fi, you can connect it to the wireless network so you can stream directly to it from your smartphone, tablet or computer.
If you are on an iPhone, you can start playing music from the service of your choice, like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music and Sirius/XM, and you can choose the Model One as a destination for the music via AirPlay 2.
Likewise, with built-in Google Chromecast, Android phones and tablets can also play to the Tivoli from any music app they like.
With a small footprint and single speaker, the Model One sounds good, but unless you are really starved for space, it won’t fill your home with sound.
It is the right size for a kitchen, office or even a bedroom.
The wood cabinet and rear-ported speaker design make for a full range of sound. This means there are openings on the rear of the cabinet to help enhance the sound.
The Model One is a nice small, self-contained speaker, but are the sound and features worth $349.99?
If you are using the Model One on a Wi-Fi network with AirPlay 2 or Google Chromecast as part of a larger system, then yes, those features could be worth the price.
But if you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker, especially one that isn’t tied to a spot near an electrical outlet, you might be better off buying a nice, portable Bluetooth speaker with a battery.
I have always liked Tivoli Audio products. Its Model One radio is a classic, and the Model One Digital Gen. 2 has some of those same classic design elements and sound signature.
If you are attracted to the design and have the right spot for it in your home, the Model One Digital won’t disappoint you.
Pros: Beautiful design, good sound.
Bottom line: Plays from almost any source and looks great doing it.