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Cue Radio Model r1 Radio and Model s1 Speaker Review  Print E-mail
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Written by Todd Whitesel   
Monday, 06 December 2010
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Cue Radio Model r1 Radio and Model s1 Speaker Review 
Listening Continued and Conclusion

Along with the excellent reception, I also liked the r1's iPod/iPhone dock. For this review, I docked a iPod mini to the Cue and had great results. The r1 instantly recognizes the device, and by choosing the iPod input option you can access and control the complete iPod menu either via the radio's CueTouch dial or the remote. As well, you can choose to have the iPod “display” either on the device itself or on the r1's front screen. I recommend the latter, as this makes the display bigger and more legible. Then you can navigate through artists/albums/playlists, etc., using the remote's up and down arrows. It's dead easy and fun to operate. Ipod sound is very good, although you'll get back what you put in - don't expect audiophile sound if you're feeding the r1 compressed music files.

Back to the sound: The r1 doesn't have tone controls per se, but it does offer six different audio sound profiles: flat, classical, jazz, pop, rock and talk. Choosing any brings up an eight-band “equalizer” pre-set for the respective modes – and they do make a difference. I listen primarily to two FM stations for music: one is affiliated with the University of Minnesota in Duluth (103.3 KUMD), the other is Minnesota Classical Radio (92.9 WSDC). The former plays everything from rock to blues to bluegrass to world music; the latter obviously sticks to classical. In both cases, I found the Cue's “rock” and “classical” profiles the best sounding choices. Though I rarely listen to talk radio, the r1's “talk” setting is definitely the way to go for that genre, especially on the AM dial. As an experiment, I flipped to the “talk” setting when one of the local stations was playing Metallica's “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” and when I increased the volume above the midway point the speakers started buzzing back. Switching over to the rock setting alleviated the problem. My point? To get the most out of the Cue requires minor tweaking.

Cue Speaker

If I was to purchase the r1 for the bedroom, I would forgo the extra s1 speaker as it would be too cumbersome for my nightstand. I can live happily with the mono sound. For another room with an extra six or eight inches of space isn't a problem, I'd go with the r1/s1 combo. Unless recorded as such, listening to music is a better experience with stereo. The two units are designed to sit side by side, essentially becoming one; or, you can separate the r1 and s1 for a broader stereo effect. In either case, you'll get fuller and more dynamic sound – and that top end starts sounding even better.   

Another feature I liked very much is the Sleep Timer. I listen to classical music in the evening before I fall asleep and many times in the past I'll wake up several hours later and still hear the radio playing from my old Sears clock radio. With the Cue, I could set a predetermined time – 90 minutes works perfectly for me – after which the r1 shuts down. I could fall asleep to music and not worry about the radio operating all night. One last “sleeping” feature that's cool is the r1's Snooze/Mute “button.” It's a touch sensor located at the top of the radio, just in front of the iPod dock. If you want to snooze after the alarm goes off or you need to temporarily mute the sound, all that's required is a light touch of a finger; likewise to disengage.

Final Thoughts

The Cue Model r1 is a radio at heart but much more. I liked the r1 very much and found in it everything that I would want in a radio, clock and iPod dock. The design is stylish, the system worked flawlessly and has just the right blend of “built in” and “adjustable” to satisfy nearly any user. I'm not sure a radio that retails for $399 shouldn't come engineered for stereo sound – I'm not opposed to even paying more – but adding another speaker, no matter how small just takes up more precious space. But overall, the r1 is a winner and would be welcome in my bedroom, whether waking me up, playing my music or keeping me tuned in to the bottom of the 9th. Cue got it right.





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