Hands-On With OXX Music Centre

Oxx-Black-Left-Angle2With its retro-ish styling, elegant controls layout and a promise of music-from-anywhere goodness, OXX’s Wireless Internet Music Centre promises a lot, but how does it polish up?

Off the bat, let’s say I expect a lot for $299. For that kind of money, I could get a pretty decent iPod speaker dock and, with a dose of iTunes cleverness, replicate a lot of the functions I can get from the OXX.

That said, let’s check off what we can do here.

Standard FM Radio. Switch into FM mode, dial up a station after running a scan, listen in. This option seems like a fallback should everything else fail. I mean, you’re not gonna spend $299 just to listen to FM radio, right? But it works.

Auxiliary Input Mode. Any device with an audio out/headphone jack can be plugged into the OXX. It works.

Internet Radio Mode. Here’s where it gets interesting. Hook up with the web and a world of radio is revealed. More than 15,000 stations. You could spend a lot of time station-surfing but here’s the tip. Radio can be just as crap in Angola as it can be everywhere else. Or it can be great. World music fans will embrace this, I’m sure. As for Malaysia’s DesaFM, in which the DJ offers what seems to be a convoluted station ID over a Kenny G track, well... that’s an acquired taste. Actually, it’s a journey of discovery finding countries where broadcasters choose to emulate presentation styles long abandoned by other cultures. This is fun. It works.

Music Player Mode. Set up the OXX to stream music from the media folder in my NAS drive over Wi-Fi? No problem, though entering the network password and navigating menus was a bit too fidgety. With an Ethernet port, you can choose to go wired, too. But it only recognised my MP3s. M4A and WAV files wouldn’t list. Also, the range of file format support is not clear. Nothing listed in the specs. But it works.

Digital Radio Mode (DAB). From where I am, in a valley in Adelaide’s southern foothills where TV/radio reception is weak enough that even a moderate storm will cause some fuzzies, DAB’s reach is not very convincing. I found a lot of available stations faded in and out, but I’m gonna cut the OXX some slack because of the geography here. When I could get a strong signal, such as ABC Adelaide, the OXX got the job done, with crystal clear audio.

Other stuff. Sound from the single 5W speaker is surprisingly good, with a pleasing warmness that no doubt comes from a solid timber box and a bass reflex design. But loud it ain’t. Max volume is a bit anaemic, but distortion-free. Other features such as a dual alarm clock, sleep timer, station pre-sets and so on are expected, but working your way through the menu system is a bit tedious, and will likely be a challenge for the less technically-inclined.

It’s a nice unit, but it doesn’t do much I can’t otherwise get from my existing internet radio — which, importantly, I source through unmetered streams from my ISP.

But for its networkability and broad range of music sources, I’m sure some people would love it. If they are radio fans. And as a matter of disclosure, I’m not.

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