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Review: Roberts R1 and R100 speakers

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The Roberts R1 and R100 speakers combine modern functions with a very alluring retro design.

This week we unpacked and tested the Roberts R1 and R100 wireless speakers, two models in the British manufacturer’s R range. The Roberts R1 speaker is the range’s entry-level model. Compatible with Bluetooth and WiFi wireless transmission modes, the R1 can play audio files stored on a smartphone, tablet, or DLNA server, as well as those stored on a wired source once the latter is connected to its Aux input. It also offers access to online radio stations and can be integrated into a multiroom system or used as the left or right channel of a stereo configuration along with a second speaker from the Roberts R range. The Roberts R100 speaker, for its part, inherits its DNA from the R1 while adding a user interface with an LCD screen as well as DAB+, clock and alarm functions. Icing on the cake: the R1 and R100 speakers can both be easily controlled with the free Undok app available for Android and iOS. A highly convenient user experience is thus ensured.

Roberts R1 and R100: presentation

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Light and compact, the Roberts R1 and R100 speakers can be carried around very easily.

These models feature a metal grill casing as well as an angled top panel sporting a matte white finish. Each plays the card of simplicity to bring vintage design and modern functions into perfect harmony. As such, these speakers present the advantage of being extremely easy to integrate into the interior decor of any room. Placed on a bedside table, kitchen counter, coffee table, or even on a garden table, Roberts speakers never clash with their surroundings. Moreover, the Roberts 1 and Roberts R100 speakers only weigh 1.6 kg. A perfect solution to enjoy the freedom of bringing your music into every room of the house.

La base de recharge optionnelle permet une utilisation nomade.

The optional battery charging station makes it possible to alternate between portable and stationary use.

A battery charging station, available as an option and compatible with both the Roberts R1 and R100 speakers, enables on-the-go use for up to 12 hours on a full charge (7 hours charging time). This battery charging station is an excellent solution for bringing a Roberts speaker from one room to another without having to pause a track or interrupt a radio program. It also makes it possible to listen to music while out on the patio, for example. All of the control keys of the Roberts wireless speakers–as well as the LCD screen for the Roberts R100–have been placed on the top panel, making for a straightforward user experience. While the control keys only cover the basics (playback, pause, next/previous track, volume, source, menu navigation for the Roberts R100), it is largely sufficient considering that other functions can be controlled via the Undok app’s very simple interface.

A particularly noteworthy feature is the speaker’s leather carry handle–the perfect complement to its retro style.

Roberts R1 and R100: configuration and use

Once the speakers are connected to the mains supply and powered up, the next step is to download and install the Undok app available for iOS and Android. The app will then propose to configure a new system. While the Roberts R100’s LCD screen allows the user to enter a WiFi password in order to connect to a local network, the R1 simply lets the user know it’s ready to be configured by way of a blinking orange light. Browsing through the app’s list will show detected devices, and the R1 and R100 may then be selected.

Note: if the Roberts R1 and R100 speakers don’t appear in the list, make sure the speakers are connected to the local network–powering them off and back on again if need be–and refresh the list.

Once the Roberts R1 and R100 speakers are added to the interface of the Undok app, the latter will guide the user through a simple and fast process to configure the speaker–or multiroom system if using several Roberts speakers. It is thus possible to use two Roberts speakers from the R series in order to enjoy stereo sound, as much as it is possible to listen to the same source in several rooms or listen to different tracks in each room in which a Roberts speaker is installed. As such, the user may listen to a news program in the kitchen while taking advantage of Bluetooth technology to listen to music in the living room with a smartphone or tablet in hand, for example. Clear and intuitive, the Undok app makes it possible not only to name each speaker individually, but also to create groups of Roberts speakers in order to create different listening zones. The speakers’ volume as well as the source can be adjusted independently or simultaneously.

Personalizing the multiroom system is a simple and intuitive process.

Personalizing the multiroom system is a simple and intuitive process.

The Roberts speakers can be controlled together (multiroom) or independently with a smartphone in hand.

Bluetooth pairing is simple and fast, as is searching for online radio stations. It is possible to search for a radio station by name or choose from a set of lists presented by category (country, genre, popular stations, podcasts, etc.).

Roberts R1 and R100: functions

Capable of storing up to 40 radio station presets, the Roberts speakers grant instant access to all your favorite radio stations. Listening to a podcast, a match or a specialty radio station in the kitchen or office, or out on the terrasse, is incredibly easy and only takes a few seconds. Spotify Premium subscribers can, for their part, enjoy the online music streaming service’s very comprehensive catalog as the Roberts R1 and R100 speakers are fully compatible with Spotify Connect.

At the back of the Roberts R1 and R100, a selector may be used to assign a channel to each speaker for use in a single-room system. It is thus possible to choose between left, right or auto  in order to create a stereo configuration.

It’s hard not to find a station to love in the list of online radio stations proposed by the Undok app. What’s more, access to FM stations and to DAB stations sets the stage for hours of on-demand listening. With analog, digital, local, national, and international stations all at the user’s fingertips, freedom of choice is guaranteed. Reception quality is very high and the Roberts R1 and R100 speakers allow music and programs broadcast on the airwaves to be enjoyed with a clear and soft sound.

In lieu of a screen, the Roberts 1 speaker is fitted with a LED whose color changes depending on the source used.

In lieu of a screen, the Roberts 1 speaker is fitted with a LED whose color changes depending on the source used.

The Undok app enables playback for files stored on a smartphone, tablet or server via Bluetooth and DLNA transmission. The latter is a particularly interesting choice as it implies wireless transfer for audio files from a distance of over 10 m and, above all, without compression! An important point as the DLNA protocol makes it possible to play MP3, WMA, FLAC, AAC, ALAC, and WAV files from a greater distance than Bluetooth, without deterioration due to compression.

The source and the track title are displayed on the Roberts R100’s screen as well as on the Undok app’s interface.

The source and the track title are displayed on the Roberts R100’s screen as well as on the Undok app’s interface.

Beyond the very comprehensive music catalog Roberts speakers offer thanks to their extensive connectivity, additional options other than WiFi and Bluetooth transmission are available. The British brand left nothing to chance and added an Aux input, a USB port, a headphone output and an Ethernet port to the back panels of the R1 and R100. As such, it is possible to connect a wired source–a portable player, for example–or play music stored on a USB flash drive, as well as connect to the network without using WiFi transmission.

The connectors as well as the stereo selector are located on the back panel of the Roberts R1 and R100 speakers.

The connectors as well as the stereo selector are located on the back panel of the Roberts R1 and R100 speakers.

Roberts R1 et R100: conclusion

Well designed, elegant, practical and versatile, the Roberts R1 and Roberts R100 speakers are as simple as they are convenient. Granting access to a plethora of radio stations alongside the possibility to enjoy a multiroom system that’s easy to configure and control, these compact speakers will be quick to find their rightful place in any room in your home. Offering a pleasant and warm listening experience, they are a particularly good choice for listening to online radio stations or background music. Behind their very appealing vintage design, the Roberts R1 and Roberts R100 speakers offer satisfactory sound restitution without trying to compete with high fidelity models, which makes them ideal companions for not missing a minute of a match or radio show, or enjoying a multiroom system based around listening to radio stations and wireless portable sources.

This post is also available in: French

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Clement Guillaume

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