TDK 3-Speaker Boombox review

Full review: Is it Boombox or bust for TDK's retro-modern music system?

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A classy and remarkably well-made unit, that puts style before performance

If you long for those 1980’s glory days of tracksuits, shell-toe Adidas and, er, hanging out on New York street corners, TDK’s Boombox will transport you back there with its funky retro design.

But rather than spinning cassette tapes – a medium with which the TDK name is synonymous – this portable music system caters for more modern-day music needs, designed to play tunes from iPhones, iPods, USB devices and other external sources through its aux inputs.

TDK Boombox – Design

The build quality of this box is astounding. Weighing the best part of 14kg, it’s remarkably bulky (not really designed for hoisting up on your shoulder) but the sturdy aluminium handle on top makes it easy to carry.

The eye is instantly drawn to the exposed speakers, which comprise two 6in coaxial drivers and a 6in subwoofer in the middle, while the massive gold rotary dials bring a bit of hi-fi bling. It’s all set into a front panel finished in piano-black gloss, which invites fingerprints but screams ‘buy me!’

The icing on the cake, however, are the two great-looking OLED displays showing the current song title and a graphic equaliser. Between these are illuminated touch-sensitive buttons, governing playback and input selection. It’s a stunning design, classic and cutting-edge all at the same time.

TDK Boombox – Features

The Boombox supports iPods and iPhones through its USB input, and for that purpose you get a 30-pin iPod USB adapter cable in the box. It’ll charge your device when connected.

The same USB input can be used to play music from flash drives and MP3 players. Down the side you’ll also find a 3.5mm minijack, analogue stereo input and an port that lets you mix an instrument with your favourite tunes played via USB or aux input. There are built-in FM and AM radio tuners too with five presets and auto/manual tuning.

The unit can run off the mains or from 12(!) D batteries, which is a big ask – a rechargeable one would have been better. Elsewhere there are bass and treble controls and shuffle/repeat modes.

Navigating through the contents of connected USB devices is a piece of cake using the dial and OK/Back buttons in the middle of it, and songs are listed by artist then album. It’s a shame there’s no remote, but you have to ask yourself – would Run DMC have used one? Exactly.

TDK Boombox – Performance

As you’d expect from a product called Boombox, bass is very thick and heavy. The 35W power output (2 x 10W plus 15W for the sub) might not seem much but bottom end frequencies are surprisingly muscular. That’s great news when blasting out old-school hip-hop and house, and you only need crank it up halfway to get the neighbours knocking on the door.

But it takes more than power to impress, and elsewhere the sound is disappointing. Bass dominates to the point where it sounds narrow and muffled – it could do with more bite at the top end to open it up, and although the bass/treble controls help, they don’t completely rectify it. It also has the tendency to distort with certain tracks when pushed.

It’s a shame, because with such a gorgeous design the 3 Speaker Boombox could have been the perfect system for B-Boys and B-Girls everywhere.

TDK 3-Speaker Boombox launch date: Out now

TDK 3-Speaker Boombox price: £499, link TDK