Here at Stuff Towers we love tech that combines old-school aesthetics with new age capabilities, which is why we really wanted to love the Revo Superconnect. Between its classic good looks and cracking sound quality we got pretty close, but thanks to South Africa’s insistence on living in the last century when it comes to broadcast technology, the Superconnect is hamstrung before it’s even begun.
The Superconnect looks like a high-end wireless (as our dads used to call the old squawk box) from the last century, complete with telescopic aerial. It’s a gorgeous combination of wood and aluminium with few enough physical controls to make it welcoming to even the aforementioned fathers. But its retro-looks belie a range of new-age features, including support for digital broadcast standards like DAB, DAB+ and FM with RDS.
Sadly, however, none of these actually exist in South Africa which makes a large chunk of the Superconnect’s functionality superfluous. That’s not Revo’s fault, but it’s incredibly annoying and makes it tougher to justify buying the Superconnect when the same money could buy any number of excellent wireless speakers for substantially less.
Norway is doing away with FM broadcasts entirely come 2017 in favour of the more efficient and cheaper DAB standard. Here at home, however, we continue to wait, much like we do with the move to digital television, where we’ve already resigned ourselves to missing the ITU’s deadline for migrating away from analogue services. Needless to say, we’re shaking our heads in dismay.
However, lack of local support for key features aside, the features of the Revo Superconnect that do work do so excellently. First there’s the range of input options, including physical connections like Stereo RCA, optical out and an auxiliary port, Bluetooth with aptX (that promises better quality than regular Bluetooth) and full DLNA and WLAN support for playing tunes from an existing media collection on your home computer or media server.
Naturally it also plays very nicely with an mobile device with apps for every major mobile operating system and controlling the Superconnect is incredibly simply thanks to a four-way joystick control next to the build-in OLED display. Oh, and it’ll play regular radio thanks to that telescopic aerial.
Then there’s the support for internet radio. Choose from over 16 million online stations using the excellent user interface and save any of them as presets to one of the eight preset buttons. As you’d expect, there’s also an alarm function that allows you to wake up to music from any of the content sources the Superconnect supports.
For international users with access to Spotify it’s even possible to continue listening to the same music you’ve been streaming to another device using Spotify Connect, the streaming service’s handoff feature. Again, however, until Spotify officially lands in South Africa this isn’t much use and again the Revo isn’t to blame. Nonetheless, the fact that certain features don’t work is a depressing reminder of how far we still have to go if we’re to catch up with the range of options available to consumers in other markets.
Of course, the most important part of any audio device is the sound, and here there’s nothing to complain about at all. Despite it’s fairly diminutive proportions the Superconnect produces 15W of top-notch, well-balanced sound with excellent bass. It’s more than loud enough for most rooms, and while you might not turn to it to provide the audio for a room full of people at a party, you could probably get away with that if necessary.
Overall the Superconnect offers a premium-looking, feeling and sounding package, but until South Africa actually begins digital radio broadcasting (it’s running tests as we speak) it’s a tough sell with its price tag of R5 500 when there are so many other options on the market that can offer similar sound but fewer (sadly, unnecessary for now) features.