Since it came from nowhere to deliver excellent the R1 radio, Vita Audio has been on a hot streak of DAB form. The R2 kept things simple by just adding an extra speaker, and now its successor is here to take the baton.
Take a casual glance at the R2i and you’ll see little difference in design to the original R2. Apart from a new iPod dock, much-needed bigger display and slightly larger box, the modern retro design and lovingly crafted solid cabinet remains, thankfully, intact.
And to blend seamlessly into your penthouse pad, a choice of colours and finishes is also available: our favourite, the rich ‘Walnut’ veneer or for twenty quid extra ‘Dream White’ or ‘Midnight Black’ high gloss lacquers.
Sound and DAB improvements
But there’s more to the R2i than its dapper retro lines and simply chiselling out space on top for an iPod dock. Vita Audio has gone to work on the inside, redesigning the audio circuitry to enhance the sound and improving the DAB module for a more stable reception.
The R2i is too classy to dazzle you with gimmicky extras, keeping proceedings simple with a nice line in connectors.
Up front is a simple 3.5mm auxiliary output for hooking up other flavoured MP3 players while round the back are two sets of phono sockets – one providing output to your hi-fi for example, while the other input is for tethering an MP3 player, TV, DVD player, laptop or CD player.
You control the R2i via Vita Audio’s signature RotoDial. It’s all very straightforward to work through and the large spring loaded dial is great for adjusting the volume. A small jerry-built remote control is also supplied and lets you control all aspects of the unit including browsing your iPod’s cover flow art and selecting individual tracks.
It’s hard to tell if the DAB signal is more robust, since the original’s was fine, but the R2i didn’t waver once in our tests, and the FM reception was similarly resilient.
It’s also worth pointing out that the R2i is future-proof for DAB+ broadcasts. Right now, the UK doesn’t support this next generation technology but once it’s up and running, the R2i will gratefully receive its transmissions.
Whether listening to the radio or your iPod dock, the R2i’s sonic performance is impressive for a unit of this size. The same 3.5-inch drivers pipe out 10 watts of power per channel with a handful of audio boosters to ramp up or adapt the sound.
The 3D sound processor together with the ’Loudness’ setting are certainly a powerful combination, filling the room without breaking sweat or needing to crank up the volume too high.
However, this overblown sound won’t suit every type of music and you can turn to the native setting for added clarity and a deep but tauter bass sound.
High and low EQ sounds are also on hand to get the best out of your music but whatever your preferred audio settings, the R2i delivers a dynamic mid-range with plenty of drive and attack.
In a highly populated iPod/DAB radio market, Vita Audio’s classy units have always stood out from the slop and the R2i is another class act.