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Raumfeld 2Raumfeld review

Verdict

Superb speakers offer proper hi-fi sound quality, but it isn't quite as slick as a Sonos system

Review Date: 18 Aug 2010

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £977 (£1,148 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
5 stars out of 6

Sonos has had the high-end multiroom audio space to itself for the past few years, but now there's a new challenger in town: small German manufacturer, Raumfeld. Its wireless audio system (available in two and three-room packages, hence the awkward 2Raumfeld name) tackles Sonos' expensive bundles head-on, but does it in a rather different way.

The speakers are the key differentiator in a Raumfeld system. Rather than building the wireless technology into a discrete amplifier or streaming module as Sonos does, Raumfeld builds it all directly into one of the speakers, along with a 30W per channel amplifier. The other speaker is passive, powered by the amp via a single length of standard speaker cable.

All you need to complete the picture is the Raumfeld Base, and the Controller - an angular slab of plastic complete with 4.25in, 280 x 476 capacitive touchscreen - and you have yourself a beautifully minimalist system. The design is pure Bauhaus and looks stunning.

Raumfeld two-room

Setting up the system is as simple as it is minimalist, and the process compares well with Sonos systems we've tested. All you need to do is switch on all the components, wire the left and right speakers together with the supplied speaker cable, and run through the setup routine on the controller. This creates a self-contained 802.11g wireless network centred on the Raumfeld Base, and all that remains is to transfer your music to the Base's 160GB internal hard disk via the Ethernet port at the rear.

The Raumfeld system isn't just about single-point streaming, however - it can also hook into your existing network and stream music stored on UPnP-equipped NAS devices and connected computers via its second Ethernet socket. Using the same connection, it has access to digital radio via the RadioTime network, Last.fm and the Napster online music services, and a nice bonus is that a year's subscription to the latter worth £60 is provided free.

Twin USB sockets on the rear panel of the Base allow you to add further external storage. And on the rear of the speakers, a stereo phono line-in allows you to connect any hi-fi source, and also stream that to other Raumfeld components around your network.

Also included with the base level system on review, is a Connector. Used to include an existing hi-fi system in the Raumfeld network, this has a pair of stereo phono plugs, electrical and optical S/PDIF for output, plus inputs for streaming from that stereo system across the network.

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User comments

S5's now pairable

Another plus for Sonos at the moment is the S5 units are now pairable (i.e. buy two and use one as left and the other as right channels). Means you don't have to string cables between speaker pairs.

By colsmith on 18 Aug 2010

2 Sonos 90s?

You only need one to be comparable with the Raumfeld, don't you? Otherwise you are going to be spending a lot more money on the Sonos system than the Raumfeld one.

By jmiii on 18 Aug 2010

I'd love one but cost is too high

For years I've dreamt of being able to play music throughout my house - or stream audio (and video) from my media centre to my kitchen so I don't miss what's happening whilst cooking.
There are plenty of options available these days to do this but they are all far too expensive and reviews are generally half hearted. Yet the technology to convert an audio signal to wi-fi is fairly straight forward. I look forward to the day when a manufacturer can put the tech into a reasonable quality active speaker for around £150 or produce a receiver to plug into a hi-fi for around £30. Then I would buy into this market.

By ironbath on 18 Aug 2010

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