If you’re a big music fan you’ll have noticed how accessible modern technology makes not only the albums and artists you have in your collection, but a wealth of additional downloadable and streaming content. As well as MP3s you’ll find that conventional FM radio, DAB radio, Internet radio and even podcasts can be invaluable sources of new music and entertainment. Pulling all of this potential together in one device has proven a little elusive so far, but Terratec’s Noxon 2 can do all of it and more.
The rather strangely designed unit comes in two parts. The top boasts an LCD display, some large control buttons and an iPod dock, which once mounted you’ll control along with the rest of the device via the supplied remote control. You’ll find an optical out and composite ports on the back, which you can use to wire up to a set of speakers or other external audio device.
However, you also have the option of mounting the Noxon 2 into the supplied speaker unit, which fits snugly underneath and offers separate access to volume, bass and treble controls. Strangely these are on the back, which we found particularly awkward, and while you can use the remote it seems an unnecessary design flaw. Audio quality of the speaker unit is very good, though, with some pronounced bass and an impressive built-in amplifier powering a 10W bass driver and two 4W tweeters.
As mentioned the Noxon 2 is packed full of features: you can browse podcasts and FM or Internet radio stations and, once you’ve found some programmes you like – which in the case of the latter involves searching by categories such as music type, genre or country – you can save them to your favourites list for easy access. You can also use it as an alarm clock, there’s a digital time display and you can change the alarm to trigger the FM radio or any of your favourites so you’ll always wake up to something different.
In addition to all this the Noxon 2 can stream audio from a computer: the device is compatible with MP3, AAC and WAV formats, recognises ID3 tags and can be set up on a network for either wired or wireless access. This is fairly easy to do initially thanks to a setup wizard that takes you through the process via the display, but we had a few problems connecting.
To begin with you need a router that’s compatible with uPnP (Universal Plug and Play), but even with this enabled we noticed the Noxon often failed to pick up the shared folders we configured through the Twonkymusic server software provided. Restarting the server and the device a couple of times seemed to fix things, but it’s obviously frustrating when it happens.
Although some users may disagree, we weren’t too keen on the looks either. The build quality felt a bit cheap and plastic, and when not mounted in the supplied speaker the top unit looks a bit strange due to its angled design. You might also find the LCD display, particularly when browsing an iPod or a large digital music collection on a PC, a bit difficult to read. This is especially true if you’re sitting at a distance using the remote control.
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