In 2004, Tivoli Audio sold a pint-sized portable AM/FM clock radio known as the SongBook. It was discontinued in 2010, but not forgotten: the 2.2-pound backpack-friendly radio has been reborn as two new Bluetooth-powered portables — the SongBook and SongBook Max.
However, these behemoths look more like what you’d get if a mad scientist genetically modified the original SongBook with DNA from a 1980s boombox, parts from Tivoli Audio’s Model One Radio, and just a hint of Dieter Rams. Available in a cream/brown combo, as well as a deeply retro avocado shade of green, the new SongBook is $449 and the SongBook Max is $599. They can be preordered starting September 26, with shipping expected in November.
With integrated carry handles and IPX4 splash resistance, these Bluetooth 5.3 portables could make for great poolside pals, but don’t expect to want to carry them far — the SongBook weighs a hefty 6.7 pounds, while the Max is a shoulder-wrenching 11.5 pounds.
The new SongBooks stick with Tivoli’s passion for mono sound. Despite the balanced sizes of the two main driver grilles, these aren’t stereo speakers. Theuses a 3.5-inch full-range driver and a 3.5-inch woofer, each driven by a 40-watt amp. The has a 4-inch subwoofer, a 4-inch midrange driver, and a .75-inch tweeter powered by two 50-watt amps.
Both portables are designed to work as amps, which is an unusual feature — the 1/4-inch analog input on the front of the speakers can be toggled between line-in and amp modes, with the latter providing preamp functionality for turntables or even electric guitars. Another unusual feature is the three-band set of manual EQ sliders.
Inside the portables lies a lithium-ion rechargeable battery that’s rated for 10 hours of use. It charges via the USB-C port on the back of the speakers, and it’s compatible with USB-C PD charging at 5, 9, and 15 volts.
Where the two models really differ (other than size, weight, and power) is the SongBook Max’s FM radio (and DAB+ radio if you live in a market that has this service). Despite the fact that the Max incorporates the same oversized tuning knob from Tivoli’s classic, it’s tied to a digital tuner. While not quite as satisfying as knowing you’re making tiny adjustments by hand, this does let the Max include five radio presets and a scan button on its top panel. You’ll also note that the Max has a stowaway extendable antenna on its back.
- Anker Soundcore’s Motion X500 packs spatial audio into a more portable package
- Devialet managed to pack two subwoofers into a speaker the size of a small purse