We’ve been continually impressed with the sound quality of most everything that Grace Digital sends our way, from its recently dropped digital amplifiers to the handy wireless bookshelf speakers from last fall. But, in addition to the to-be-expected solid audio, the San Diego-based company is aiming for increased functionality and a slew of catchy-looking features with its new Encore Stereo Wi-Fi Music System, an all-in-one speaker/radio setup that accesses tons of Internet radio stations without requiring a smartphone or its apps.
Boasting what Grace Digital describes as “an impressive tweeter and woofer arrangement,” the Encore promises clearer vocals and deeper bass than can be had from comparable products already on the market.
The system comes standard with dual-3-inch tweeter/midrange drivers, and a bottom-facing 4-inch woofer, all powered by a class-D digital amp. That all sounds promising, but the coolest thing the Encore can do is connect to more than 50,000 free Internet radio stations and podcasts, and access a massive pool of on-demand content from both locally-based and worldwide sources — without a smartphone. Just connect it to your Wi-Fi network and off it goes.
The station/content options include, of course, heavy swingers such as NPR, BBC, iHeartRadio, CBS and Pandora, in addition to leading pay services such as SiriusXM, Rhapsody and Live365 — but one can expect easy access to much more obscure providers, from college radio stations to local small-town podcasts.
Encore can save 100 of your specifically fine-tuned favorites (that Brian Jonestown Massacre station you turn to on lonely, rainy nights) directly to the system for quick access to your top station and artist choices. But say you just want to put on an album via your smartphone or MP3 player — not a problem: the Encore can function just like any modern set of digital speakers, and includes a handful of other practical features:
- Seven separate alarms, with adjustable sleep timer and large snooze bar
- Headphone jack
- RCA Line-Out
- RCA Aux-In
- USB slot for charging smartphones
- Can access tracks stored on a flash drive
- Optional (not included) Grace USB-to-Ethernet connector
If you’re a believer, you can buy the Encore system for $250 at Amazon right now.