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Ooh, we're loving our new micro hifi from Roberts MP53 Sound 53. We bought it to replace our old little system which had served us well for many years but was looking rather clunky and tatty and pre-dated any thought of docking stations or digital radio (it was old enough to have a tape deck, bless). So, our priorities were to have a system with digital radio and ipod docking capabilities, as well as a CD player as we continue to buy and use CD's regularly. We wanted something that would fit nicely into our living room without taking up too much space, and that didn't cost too much. It needed good enough sound quality for a reasonable sized living room, but we're not hifi junkies so not overly concerned with having the best sound requiring top speakers. For about £230 from Amazon, we've got everything we wanted and more. The system provides all the functionality we wanted: DAB radio, a single CD player and a docking station. In addition it has FM radio and USB and SD ports so you can play music directly from your USB stick or memory card. Setting up the system is simplicity itself. You pretty much just plug it in, the digital radio tunes itself and it's ready to go. The controls are mostly via the remote control, with just a volume and CD eject button on the box itself. You can switch between several display options on the display panel on the box (e.g. playing now/station name when you're using the radio function) and the clock. I've seen reviews complaining this is a bit bright if it's in your bedroom, and I can see how that could cause problems, but it's not an issue for us as ours is in the living room. The remote control is pretty intuitive, although as usual there's several buttons and options I can't see myself using so would need to look up the instructions to remember what they are. But it has the functions you'd expect including clock and alarm functions, track repeat or random settings. The system does has speakers built in rather than separate speakers. I'm sure you would get a better quality of sound by spending a bit more for a system with separate speakers, but for us the sound is fine. I'm sure I'd notice a big difference if you compared two such systems side by side, but I'm happy with what we have with the Roberts. And, of course the advantage is you have a lovely compact little system, just 36 cm wide, in a very nice looking sleek, black box. All in all, we're really happy with our new Roberts system. We've not had it long so can't comment on long term reliability, but so far this micro hifi system ticks all our boxes and more.
The Roberts Sound 53, the 'Big Brother' of the Sound 43, is a stylish and modern stereo system complete with a dock for your iPod, meaning you can play all your favourite songs through the amazing speakers this product provides. You also get the opportunity to record things from the radio and CD's onto a USB or SD memory card, which is very handy when you hear something interesting and want to show it to somebody else. You also get a variety of other features with this product which I will tell you about later in detail as I go through each section of the product individually. Note: If you do not want to read the whole review, you can just scroll down to the bottom where you will see a rating out of 10 given for each section. The iPod Dock Most hi-end sound systems these days have some sort of iPod or MP3 dock on them, so what makes this product any different to the less expensive ones available? The fact that it gives you exactly the same quality from your iPod as you would from a CD, now this may be down to the fact that most of my songs are from iTunes, however songs which have been downloaded using a YouTube converter tend to be of reduced quality than ones downloaded from iTunes, and this will be easily noticeable with most sound systems, but not with this one. This product contains a 'special device' which is designed to increase the quality of especially low quality songs, I have no idea how, but the songs sound clearer and professional. (Downloading songs without paying is illegal unless you have permission from the creator) The positioning of the dock where you place your iPod is central and leaves you with a lot of free space and control over your iPod, which of course is always a good thing. The only problem I could think of is if you have a white iPod it may not look as good as a black one with this product (I am unsure whether it is available in white or not), but other than that this feature is amazing! The recording from CD and Radio system As I said in the introduction, this stereo allows you to record specific things from a CD or the Radio onto a USB or SD memory card, this helps you remember your favourite radio moments or even allows you to play an entire CD from the device itself (quality may be effected). But the thing that I use it for the most is recording interviews which I am unable to listen to, then I simply play them when I get home, for example if someone was interviewing Brian Cox and I was unable to listen to it at the broadcasting time, I can make the stereo record when the interview is scheduled to start and finish recording when it is scheduled to finish. The only problem with this is trying to predict when the interview is going to end (as they can often run over as scheduled), but it is easily combated by leaving 5 - 10 minutes leeway. The remote control This stereo comes with a multi function remote control, which allows you control practically all the features of the system without moving, perhaps unnecessary, but certainly useful! It also looks good, most remotes I have used feel like a chunk of plastic in your hand, nothing more, but this remote actually fits into your hand and feels comfortable to use and you can push all the buttons with minimal effort, it is fairly easy to get use to as well, so you won't have to stare at the remote looking for that button after a few weeks. As far as disadvantages go, I don't really think there is any for the remote, it has a long range, good battery life and a variety of functions, what more could you want? The clock / alarm clock The clock on this product is the same as most others, it is digital and has radiant blue colour for the display backlight and a light blue display. The alarm clock can wake you up by playing music from the radio, iPod, CD or a standard beeping sound. Generally it does a good job at waking me up as I am a not a heavy sleeper, but if you are a heavy sleeper I would recommend using an alarm clock designed to wake you up, instead of this, simply because it doesn't offer you anything special. It has an adjustable sleep timer and also has a snooze function; the alarm is multi functioning so you can set up multiple alarms at once. Other than that it is a fairly standard but stylish clock. The equaliser and sound This product has a 6 position equaliser with separate bass and treble controls which enhance your sound quality even more; the acoustically tuned wooden frame makes the sound quality even better by giving it a raw feel without any distortions in voice and loud volumes. I am a bit obsessed when it comes down to sound quality and I will often send a product back if the sound isn't good (even if the product itself is amazing), so for this product to be a success to me, it needed to offer; clear sound at both high and low volumes, enabling me to hear each individual instrument; a balanced but effective equaliser for each genre, so I didn't need to keep adjusting the sound settings for each song; and a good looking speaker system which doesn't look OTT. This product did all of those things, to an outstanding standard, I was very pleased with this product and had high expectations as it was quite expensive but in my opinion, you get way more than you pay for. Other features This section is for features which are not really important (in my opinion) but have their place in a review, for example the weight. This product weighs just over 5kg which means it can be a bit tricky to handle but as it is all one piece of equipment, they balance out so you get a manoeuvrable stereo system which will stay in place. It has a high gloss piano black finish which looks sleek and stylish, fingerprints do not show up easily and it is very easy to dust/clean so long as you do it about once a week. There are 20 radio stations presets, which saves time when you first set it up, however it is very easy to find radio stations which are not included in the presets. Ratings out of 10 The iPod dock - 9/10 The recording system - 8/10 The remote control - 10/10 The Clock/Alarm clock - 8/10 The equaliser and sound - 10/10 Other features - 9/10 Note: all ratings are based on my personal experience with this product; do not use them as a guarantee Overall evaluation / Recommendations I would recommend this product to people who listen to music quite a lot and have about £250 to spend. I would only buy this product if you are going to use it frequently as otherwise it is a waste of money as there are cheaper alternatives which offer you basic features. Do not be put off by the price though, if you use it you will definitely get your money's worth back from it, it will last a very long time and the range of features you get from it is phenomenal. In my opinion you get more than you pay for.