Rich, strong bass
Beautiful overall sound
Airplane mode needed
Bulky and heavy
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Why do so few iPod-compatible music centres incorporate a CD player? People still own CDs and many prefer to buy new music on disc and then rip it themselves rather than download through an online music store.
Vita Audio's R4i integrated music system could well tap into an under-served market, but given the price it will only be welcomed by hard-core audiophiles.
As well as a CD player and an iPod dock, the R4i includes FM and DAB radios, with five presets for each. There's no built-in internet radio, but if you have an iOS device you could use an app and play it through the iPod dock.
MP3 and WMA files can be played from CDs and USB sticks, but track, artist and album information aren't listed when doing so. It also has a clock with alarm functions, but given the size and weight of the unit, it won't find a natural home on your bedside table.
Indeed, the R4i's excessive bulk is its main drawback. It wouldn't even fit on most bedside tables, and at eight kilogrammes, it could prove too heavy for your shelves.
Its build quality and design are very good (the circular remote that sits in a caddy on the top of the unit is an excellent touch), but make sure you've enough space before investing in one.
Another drawback is that the R4i isn't shielded for the iPhone, so you might have to switch to airplane mode to prevent interference. This is a shocking omission given the price.
Thankfully, audio quality is far from shocking. In fact, it has one of the most complete sounds we've heard in an all-in-one system, with rich, strong bass, a well-defined midsection and a crisp, clear high end. Vocals are well realised, and there's no flabbiness or distortion anywhere. The sound is beautifully detailed, and its stereo effects are reasonable given the proximity of the speakers.
Although not exceptionally feature-rich, Vita Audio R4i gives a lot for your money. It has an impressive sound and performance, though we wish it wasn't so bulky.
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