This is one sensational system — loaded with cleverness, led by its eponymous touchscreen. We’ve seen such proddable screens on digital radios before — Pure’s strange but award-winning footieball Sensia led the way. But Grundig’s Trio Touch is even easier to use, proving almost flawless in operation and, crucially, sounding buckets better.
What do you get in this neat do-it-all box? There’s an iPod/iPhone dock on top, digital DAB+ radio and FM within, plus a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection to internet radio, networked music streaming from your PC, and also LastFM online music (for which you need a US$3 a month subscription). There are dual alarms with snooze, a full-sized and friendly remote control, and a raft of EQ options (that we never felt any need to invoke).
Before you think to praise the abilities of Grundig’s German HQ at fitting in all this innovation while still sounding great, be aware that this design comes from Grundig Australia; the Trio Touch was specified and tuned here in Oz, working with a UK design team. We applaud their work.
The Trio Touch’s home screen is a colourful 3 x 3 grid of options — see our notes below left to read how successful each section proved. Set up was fabulous. The onscreen keyboard is just large enough to make Wi-Fi password entering a breeze (press accurately and confidently for best results). The speakers can be detached to allow a wider sound and more flexible placement; their hidden Grundig logos and slip-proof bases indicate they should be rotated 90º for such use.
Remarkably both the speakers and the main unit boast full-size hi-fi speaker binding posts — a tad redundant if you use the fiddly bare-wire cables provided, but it points to potential upgrade options (you might use better cable, or possibly higher-quality speakers, though you’d want a sensitive pair that wouldn’t overly tax the fairly meagre internal 10W amplifiers).
Late in the test we went further, mothballing the speakers entirely and using the RCA audio outputs from the central unit into a hi-fi amp — et voila; all these sources sounded perfectly enjoyable on our main system. The optical digital output would be even more useful but is limited to the DAB+ and FM sections. There’s also video out from your iPhone. The only thing we might yearn for is iPhone/iPad App control to make navigating large internet radio or media lists even easier than via the slightly fiddly touchscreen two-speed scroll.
The final delivery of all this through the speakers is excellent whether you leave them attached or separate them. Systems of this size can vary sonically from dismal to delightful, and Grundig has used all its table-radio expertise to make this a winner; great levels for a bedroom or study, with a rich, well balanced sound with real hi-fi elements getting you right into the music. The rear ports mean close wall-placement can bring a little extra bass, but really the system doesn’t need it, and the midrange tended to get a little shoutier; the speakers performed best in relatively free space.
The RRP of $599 is not insubstantial for a unit this size, and puts it in the ring with some other key contenders. But we know of no competitor that offers this range of sources together with such simplicity of control via touchscreen, backed with a sound that had us playing track after track, just to enjoy ourselves. Outstanding.