Tivoli Audio

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Gen2 review

Mid-century style, modern sound

₹ 1,06,990

There are probably more Bluetooth and wireless speaker systems released in a year than Taylor Swift albums and that’s saying a lot. Swifties never have to go without new (or repackaged) material for more than a couple of months and the same can be said for wireless speakers on our test bench. But Tivoli Audio is a bit different. For starters, the OG brand popularised the idea of retro chic radios when AM/FM was a big part of the music and news-consuming culture. With minor tweaks to functionality and design, the brand has retained its old-world charm with modern connectivity, making it more inclusive for Gen Z.

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Gen2 review: Design

The Music System (Gen 2) doesn’t mince words, does it? It does exactly what it says on the wrapper: play music. Simple. The lack of a dedicated app might come as a shock to the Sonos club members, but Tivoli believes in keeping its focus on design and engineering of the hardware and leave the tech giants to do their thing. So you can Chromecast or AirPlay your tunes to the Music System Home from virtually any device, allowing Tivoli to attend to the Eco-friendly nature of the fabric for the speaker grilles, furniture grade veneer for the cabinet and solidly built aluminium knobs and dials that add validity to its rich heritage.

Having built its reputation on natural sounding clock radios for the bedside or the kitchen counter, the Music System Home, as the name suggests, is a more versatile audio product. Being larger also grants it the real estate to have a proper 2-way speaker system, featuring a 3.5in mid/bass driver and a 0.75in tweeter. All four drivers are powered by their own amplifiers and connectivity will primarily be wireless - Bluetooth of AirPlay 2/Chromecast. But Tivoli has also included some tell tale analog connections like a 3.5mm but there’s also an Ethernet port and an Optical for connecting an external player. Although it’s designed to keep it basic, you can wireless connect the Music System Home to a Tivoli subwoofer for a beefier bottom end, although for this test, we just propped it up on the four supplied legs and let it elevate the aesthetic or our living room credenza. With its muted colours and fine craftsmanship, it did look like premium furniture more than a piece of audio equipment and was high in the acceptance factor by one and all. A bonus is the inclusion of the angled feet in the box and it raises the unit off the surface just enough to make it easy to clean and decouple tit from potential vibrations too.

Controlled via two knobs that manage source selection and volume level, it’s the giant tuning dial surrounding the centre display that adds a healthy dose of nostalgia here. It does AM/FM and DAB Radio, but for our country and listening tests, FM was the go-to OTA source. Just like in the old days, you have to extend the telescopic antenna and point it in any direction you get maximum clarity. Yes, streaming music was hard work back in the day!

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Gen2 review: Sound

A rich tonal balance is what Tivoli Audio has been known for, even from its single-driver, full range radios and the Music System Home builds on the same tenet. Voiced to sound natural and rich in the midrange, play vocals spanning from Muddy Waters to Mohit Chauhan and you will be pleasantly surprised at the tonal balance. Sure, you have basic tone controls to spice things up depending on your tastes, but even the neutral position, the presentation was clean and fatigue free over long hours of listening. It doesn’t really sound open or project a wide stereo image in the way a Naim MuSo or Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin can, but they are also a different price category, leaving the Tivoli Music System Home in no mans land. Most of its direct competitors are either WiFi only speakers or soundbars and this gives it the unique edge of being the family audio system. Pair it to any phone via Bluetooth or simply AirPlay from an iOS device, making it a lot more inclusive than app-based speakers that seem to pose a challenge for the not-so-tech-savvy members of the household. If all else fails, there’s of course the FM Radio which also gives you the chance to use the smooth-as-silk tuning dial surrounding the display. It feels a world apart from the well-damped tuning knob feel of the smaller Tivoli Radios, but the primary source for this system is going to be via wireless methods. Nevertheless, there is still a certain satisfaction to be felt in dialling the desired station with a manual dial. It never gets old. FM reception itself though wasn’t any different than what you’re used to in the car, for example. In fact, given that the unit was indoors, even with the antenna fully extended, we could never manage to get a completely noise-free reception.

Overall, the system can play pretty loud without getting into distortion, but by no means is it a party speaker. The bass has clearly defined limits and is best suited for normal listening levels unless you plan to pair wirelessly with the optional sub. Be mindful of the SPL and you will be treated to a sound that is sufficiently full and well-rounded The treble is never harsh or bright and it has a sonic signature that is warm and huggable, just like its exterior personality.

Tivoli Audio Music System Home Gen2 review: Conclusion

Occupying a unique space that has few, if any competitors, the Tivoli Audio Music System Home Gen 2 justifies its price tag with a blend of mid-century good looks and modern streaming convenience. It misses out on an app or Roon integration, but this simple music system is supposed to be family friendly and it excels at that brief. It’s price tag is a bit restrictive, but if you have a home that deserves to be unbroken in its aesthetic by a traditional black box, Tivoli is the answer.

Stuff Says

Old-world charm with some modern bits means this isn’t for everyone, but if you want decor-friendly sound, bite the bait!
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Build quality and timeless design

  1. Voiced to sound natural and balanced

  1. Simple controls and operation

  1. No app control or multiroom mode

  1. Expensive

Drivers: 2 x 3.5in woofer, 2 x 0.75in tweeter
Power: 20W x 2 woofer, 8W x 2 tweeter
Connectivity: AM/FM, Bluetooth, AirPlay2, Chromecast, Optical, Ethernet, 3.5mm
Streaming Services: Spotiy Connect
Dimensions WDH: 16 x 6.5 x 8.75in
Weight: 5kgs