This week we reviewed the Tangent Elio Stereo CD, a 40-watt compact system that combines a CD player, an FM/DAB/DAB+ radio, a web radio, a Bluetooth receiver, a network and USB audio player (DLNA) and a radio alarm clock all in one device. Sold for €399, can it perform as well as a system composed of separate elements?
Tangent Elio Stereo CD: the brand
Currently known for its various ranges of Danish-inspired radios, hi-fi electronics and speakers, Tangent was originally an English company founded in 1986. The brand was only acquired by Eltax and relocated to Denmark in 1998. At that time, the design principle for Tangent equipment was completely redefined to put more emphasis on hi-fi designs. Combining elegance and competitive prices, Tangent speakers and electronics soon became genuine decorative objects with refined silhouettes, appealing finishes and strong character. These characteristics can be found in small radios such as the Tangent Uno Radio and Tangent Quattro, but also in larger speakers like those in the Tangent FP-600 5.0 System home theater pack that marked the Danish brand’s entry into the world of home theater in 2006.
A decade after its acquisition by Eltax, Tangent changed owners once again to become part of the French AV Industry Group. Cutting-edge technologies and unique designs became the very spirit of the brand. This led to the creation of the Tangent Prestige floorstanding speakers, a model that provides a subtle blend of design and acoustic performance thanks to a new 1” ScanSpeak Illuminator D3004 tweeter.
From 2010 onwards, Tangent applied its expertise to dematerialized music with the Tangent Pearlbox and Tangent Fjord iPod/iPhone speaker docks. The latter has an elegant cube-shaped design that has passed-on to the Tangent Spectrum W1 that we recently reviewed (read our review of the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast). The manufacturer also excels in making DAB/DAB+ radios and compact systems like this review’s Tangent Elio Stereo CD.
Tangent Elio Stereo CD: packaging & accessories
The Tangent Elio Stereo CD compact system comes in a cardboard box that proudly displays the colors of the Danish flag on top. Inside, the speaker is securely held in place and protected by various pieces of packing foam. Underneath the speaker is a second box containing the remote control (without batteries), a 3.5mm mini-jack to mini-jack cable and an AC transformer with two adapters: one European standard and one British standard.
Tangent Elio Stereo CD: presentation
As soon as we took it out of the box, we fell in love with the Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker’s elegant retro design. It features an MDF chassis covered with imitation wood vinyl. Two colors are available: walnut and black. The Tangent Elio Stereo CD’s front panel features a 3mm-thick aluminum panel that gives the whole unit a high-quality and sturdy appearance.
With its compact size and very elegant design, the Tangent Elio Stereo CD system will look the part in your living room, kitchen or bedroom, where it can be used as a radio alarm clock.
The front of the Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker features a comprehensive control panel that includes two large graduated potentiometers. The left-hand knob provides precise and smooth volume adjustment, while the right-hand knob allows you to quickly select the source. Above the potentiometers is a large color screen that lets you navigate through the menus and settings, but also displays the source and the name of the radio station or music being played. When the speaker is in sleep mode, the screen can display the time or local weather. Lastly, other controls for music management, track selection and radio station selection are placed on either side of this screen. Naturally, all of these functions can also be accessed via the infrared remote control that comes with the Tangent Elio Stereo CD system.
Inside its elegant chassis, the Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker is equipped with an amplifier that can deliver up to 2 x 20 watts for a total power of 40 watts. The amplifier is responsible for powering two 3” drivers that are hidden behind grilles on the speaker’s aluminum front panel. Each driver is mounted in a bass-reflex enclosure and benefits from its own circular port on the rear panel of the speaker to improve the bass response. These ports are located directly behind the drivers to minimize distortion.
Tangent Elio Stereo CD: WiFi, USB and Bluetooth
The Tangent Elio Stereo CD system is designed to allow you to enjoy all your music and audio sources on one device. Its mini-jack analog input lets you connect any device that is equipped with a 3.5mm line or headphone output, while the Bluetooth module makes it easy to stream music from a smartphone, tablet or computer. Its Bluetooth chip supports the AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile) protocol, allowing you to manage playback and your music directly on the speaker. The Bluetooth wireless connection has a range of around 10 meters, which leaves the user a certain freedom of movement.
Thanks to its WiFi controller, the Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker can be easily connected to the Internet and the local network. The integration of the DLNA protocol then ensures the playback of music shared over the local network. The vast majority of audio formats are supported up to a resolution of 24-bit/196kHz, therefore allowing you to fully enjoy Hi-Res tracks. It is important to note that these files can also be played from a USB flash drive or a hard drive connected to the USB-A port that is on the back of the Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker. You can navigate through your music library by folder, artist, title or album. Finally, this compact Tangent system also features the Spotify Connect protocol to make it easier for those with a premium subscription to stream tracks from this music service.
Tangent Elio Stereo CD: F/DAB/DAB+ tuner and CD player
The Tangent Elio Stereo CD is a genuine all-purpose system that also allows you to enjoy your CD collection. To do so, it is equipped with a slot-loading player on the front panel. Compatible with standard CDs, it can also play compilations on recordable CDs and CD-MP3s.
The Tangent Elio Stereo CD compact system’s FM radio tuner provides an automatic search feature for finding radio stations. The RDS protocol is used to display the name of the stations and the song that is currently being broadcast (for stations that do this) on the color screen. The FM tuner is accompanied by a DAB/DAB+ digital tuner, which also includes the automatic station search and song title display. Lastly, the Tangent Elio Stereo CD provides access to countless internet radio stations from around the world. These can be selected by country/region or by music genre. It is possible to add your favorite stations to a list so that you can quickly access them for future listening.
Tangent Elio Stereo CD: configuration
The Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker can be set up quick and easily. Once it’s connected to the mains, the drop-down language selection menu appears on the color screen. You can use the directional buttons on the control interface or the remote control to select the language. The second and final step is to enter the WiFi network name and password. Once connected, the Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker is immediately operational.
Tangent Elio Stereo CD: listening impressions
The Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker impressed us with its natural and energetic sound. With Chris Rea’s track Looking for the Summer streamed via Spotify Connect, the lows were deep and displayed a nice excursion for such a small speaker. The Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker had no trouble filling our room, which is approximately 30m², with sound. Even when the volume was excessively high, the sound remained controlled and balanced. The highs were detailed, and the mids were nuanced and incredibly natural sounding. The music filled the room nicely, even though the soundstage was inevitably narrower than it would have been with one speaker on either side of the room. The same applies to the stereo effects, which weren’t always clearly distinguishable. Despite this, the sound was always pleasant and natural.
During our test, the Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker proved to be very comfortable with a wide range of musical genres. Pop, rock, blues, jazz and even classical music were all well reproduced by this speaker. With the track What Are You Going To Do? from Hans Zimmer’s Prague concert, the Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker reproduced the composition with phenomenal energy and vitality. The various instruments sounded natural and stood out clearly from the rest of the soundstage. We could also hear the acoustics of the recording studio when listening to this piece.
Tangent Elio Stereo CD: compared to…
Denon Home 250: sold for €499, this Denon wireless speaker has a few advantages when it comes to connectivity. It benefits from AirPlay technology, as well as Bluetooth and WiFi. The Denon Heos protocol lets you add the Home 250 to a group of compatible multi-room speakers, but also allows you to access many online music services. Lastly, it can be controlled via its tactile control interface or vocally thanks to the integration of the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants. Regarding sound, however, the Denon Home 250 isn’t as balanced or natural sounding. The lows are also much less present.
Roberts Blutune 200: sold for the same price, the Roberts Blutune 200 compact system is equipped with an FM/DAB/DAB+ tuner, a CD player and a Bluetooth receiver. It has the advantage of featuring a USB-B port that allows it to be used as a USB DAC with a Windows or Mac computer. Despite this, the Tangent Elio Stereo CD is more versatile thanks to its WiFi connection, which allows it to access music shared over the local network, web radios and Spotify Connect. Its large color screen also makes it more pleasant to use.
Yamaha TSX-B235: also sold for €399, the Yamaha TSX-B235 system is equipped with an FM/DAB/DAB+ tuner, a CD player, two USB ports compatible with iPods, and an aptX Bluetooth receiver. As a result, the quality of Bluetooth transmission is slightly better. However, when it comes to sound the Tangent Elio Stereo CD proves to be more powerful and offers a more natural sound, with deeper and better controlled lows. The highs are also smoother and more detailed.
Tangent Elio Stereo CD: conclusion
With the Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker, the Danish manufacturer has designed a versatile compact system that makes it easy to enjoy your CDs, internet or FM/DAB/DAB+ radio stations and all your music, whether it’s tracks stored on your smartphone or songs shared over the network. The Tangent Elio Stereo CD speaker is easy to use, with intuitive controls thanks to its large color screen that has a wide viewing angle. Lastly, its elegant, timeless design and compact size make it easy to incorporate into any room, be it a living room, a kitchen, an office or a bedroom. Therefore, we highly recommend this speaker if you’re looking for a system that is elegant, easy to use and musically powerful.
What we liked:
- The design
- The large color screen
- The deep lows
- The tonal balance
- How easy it was to set up
What we would have liked:
- An optical input to connect a television
- An Ethernet input
- Multi-room compatibility