If you’ve read this column in the past you know just how fond I am of the late Henry Kloss’ table radios, from the KLH models from the ’60s through the Cambridge SoundWorks of the ’90s. Now, more than a year after the audio designer’s death, his friends at Tivoli Audio have released a clock radio version of his spectacular Model One and Model Two table radios: The Model Three.
The Model One is a monophonic AM/FM design. The Model Two is made for stereo listening with two separate boxes with Kloss-designed speakers built inside. The Model Two even has a matching subwoofer — for slightly deeper bass response — and a CD player, making for a very cool and great sounding audio system for small rooms.
The Model Three is really the radio half of a Model Two with an analog clock on the front where the speaker normally goes. The speaker has been moved to the top. The Three is a really a stereo radio that comes with one speaker. To make it a stereo radio with two speakers you have to purchase the Model Three Companion Speaker ($49.99). There’s also the new Model Three Dual Alarm Speaker ($99.99) which in addition to the second speaker adds a second clock and alarm in the extension enclosure. Plus, to add to your clock radio listening enjoyment you can also plug in the optional subwoofer ($79.99) to create one heck of a night-table sound system.
The Model Three is 4.5 inches high by 8.375 inches wide by 5.25 inches deep and weighs 6.6 pounds. It’s small and solidly built, with a cherry wood finish like its predecessors. All controls — the tuning dial, on-off-mode selector, volume control, alarm and sleep (20 minute timer) buttons, even the snooze switch — are round. To set the alarm you turn the round outer thumbwheel (counter-clockwise only, please) located around the clock’s outer rim. Even the LEDs are round. The key word here is round.
There’s nothing more that I can say about the sound from any of the Tivoli Audio table radios that I haven’t already said. These little boxes sound great. Mr. Kloss had the touch. I don’t know of any other audio designer that could take a small speaker — put it into a small box — and get so much big hi-fi sound out of it.
The Model Three is no exception. A friend who heard the Three playing asked “Is that a clock radio? That sounds unbelievable!” I agree. If you’re familiar with the sound of the Models One and Two you know exactly what the Three sounds like.
On the other hand, you can’t talk about a clock radio without talking about the clock. The analog (round) device is a thing of beauty. I wish the backlighting was variable (I think it’s a tad too bright at night) and I wish the hour hand was a little shorter to make it easier to see at 4 a.m. But overall it does exactly what it’s supposed to do.
Unlike most clock radios, this clock runs on one AA battery. The battery isn’t there as a power outage backup — the clock actually runs on it. That means, during the recent blackout in the Northeast, the Model Three’s clock never missed a beat, something to think about if you live in an area prone to outage.
The rest of the Three, including the clock’s backlighting, runs on the power provided from the AC cord. (So, I couldn’t listen to the beautiful sounds it makes until the power came back on.)
The Model Three sells for $199.99 on the Tivoli Web site. It operates on 120 volts AC or 12 volts (as in boats, campers, automobiles). There’s also a 220v version available overseas that sells for 299 Euros. Wherever you are, you can’t buy a better sounding clock radio. Period.