View Quest Retro Mk II

FOR Stylish de­sign; lots of fea­tures; de­cent dy­nam­ics AGAINST But­tons could feel nicer; sound needs more de­tail

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Technophiles may find com­mon ground in their shared love of tech­nol­ogy, but that tech comes in all shapes and forms. Some may like the sleek and shine of the lat­est smart­phone, while oth­ers pre­fer hav­ing a ro­tary phone hang­ing on the wall.

For those seek­ing the mid­dle ground – mod­ern func­tion­al­ity with a retro aes­thetic – the View Quest Retro Mk II ra­dio will scratch that itch, and at an af­ford­able price.

The VQ comes in a choice of 11 dif­fer­ent bold colours or, for an ex­tra £30, a range of fin­ishes in­clud­ing polka dot and lemon print. An­other £30 will also buy you a spare bat­tery, so you can keep the ra­dio play­ing away from the con­fines of a power socket.

The face of the Retro Mk II fea­tures a clear, wide dis­play that shows in­for­ma­tion such as the ra­dio sta­tion and song you’re lis­ten­ing to, and also the time and vol­ume level. In the mid­dle is a small drawer that con­ceals a light­ning port for charg­ing (when the VQ is plugged in to power) or play­ing from Ap­ple de­vices. It pops out with a push so you can hide it away when you’re not us­ing it. It’s a nice ex­tra level of func­tion­al­ity, but you’re go­ing to need to take off any bulky iphone cases (and its ridge does get in the way of the home but­ton some­what).

The but­tons used to con­trol play­back or change sources aren’t as easy to use as a con­ven­tional ro­tary knob. The ab­sence of a mute but­ton is also no­tice­able, es­pe­cially when you have to hold down the vol­ume key to turn the ra­dio down quickly. Press­ing the VQ but­ton puts the unit in standby for a sud­den si­lence, but it’s not the same.

Retro con­nec­tions

De­spite its retro de­sign, this ra­dio has a good range of up-to-date con­nec­tions. You can use an ipod or iphone, an aux­il­iary in­put us­ing the 3.5mm port on the back, or its Blue­tooth v2.1 con­nec­tiv­ity. (We find Blue­tooth to be sta­ble, with no dropouts, although the VQ doesn’t con­nect as quickly as some other ra­dios). There’s also a USB port for charg­ing, which is a nice ad­di­tion.

And this is a pretty so­phis­ti­cated ra­dio. Its DAB mode fea­tures set­tings for Dy­namic Range Com­pres­sion, which re­duces the dif­fer­ence be­tween loud and quiet sounds, and has a ‘Prune’ func­tion to delete sta­tions that are ei­ther no longer trans­mit­ting or have changed fre­quency.

The FM ra­dio can also be played in ‘Forced Mono’, which makes weaker sta­tions sound clearer at the ex­pense of stereo sound. And it has six equaliser set­tings af­fect­ing the lev­els of bass and tre­ble, as well as the op­tion to set up your own cus­tom EQ.

You can set up to 30 of your favourite sta­tions (on both DAB and FM) for quick ac­cess by hold­ing down the star but­ton, which is a help­ful touch. There’s also a smat­ter­ing of clock op­tions, such as set­ting a sleep timer or an alarm.

Sat­is­fy­ing bass

Though the Retro Mk II ra­dio has a pretty good sound qual­ity, it’s not go­ing to knock our Award win­ner, the Pure Evoke D2, off its top spot. Blast a bit of Queen’s An­other One Bites The Dust and you can hear a good amount of space be­tween Fred­die’s vo­cals and the hefty back­ing bass. For a hi-fi prod­uct with such a rel­a­tively small price tag, this unit is sur­pris­ingly adept at keep­ing its sound or­gan­ised.

And it’s loud too – for a small ra­dio you cer­tainly won’t have an is­sue with it fill­ing a bed­room, and it will even de­liver a pretty pow­er­ful sound when played out­doors. Play­ing The Edge Of The Wild from The Hob­bit sound­track, the horns and strings rise and fall smoothly, with a pretty good sense of dy­namism.

The VQ’S bass is big enough to be sat­is­fy­ing, though. Kanye West’s Love Lock­down has some weight be­hind its chunky low-fre­quency beats that will keep the ca­sual lis­tener happy. It’s not quite as tight as we would like – the Retro Mk II could do with a bit more punch to truly en­force deep bass tracks – but there’s enough quan­tity there to make up for the slight dip in qual­ity.

Deal or no deal?

There is also a drop in trans­parency and in­sight when com­pared with the Pure Evoke D2. The vo­cals in Vam­pire Week­end’s Un­be­liev­ers sound a lit­tle foggy, and you’ll miss out on sub­tle details such as how singer Ezra Koenig oc­ca­sion­ally drops the end of his words.

On the whole, this is far from a deal­breaker for a rel­a­tively low-cost ra­dio with oo­dles of func­tion­al­ity and a pretty solid sound over­all. The Retro Mk II is a ver­sa­tile prod­uct, able to act as a de­cent Blue­tooth speaker or dig­i­tal ra­dio. And for all its mod­ern fea­tures, there’s also a nice smat­ter­ing of vin­tage style to go with it.

The fa­cade of the Retro Mk II has a dis­play screen and a pop-out tray for play­ing Ap­ple de­vices

De­spite the old-fash­ioned de­sign, the Retro Mk II has a full range of up-to-date con­nec­tions round the back

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