All-in-one music boxes are the perfect choice for anyone who wants to get a great audio experience but doesn't have space or money for a full Hi-Fi system or simply doesn't want to deal with the mess of cables that a separates setup entails. Now you can get an iPod dock, CD player, DAB radio, speakers, and amplifier in a single unit that will fit neatly on a side cabinet or TV stand. No wonder, then, that Roberts has seen fit to enter this burgeoning market with its Sound range of products.
There are two models to choose from, the Sound MP-53 and smaller Sound MP-43 (Roberts seems very inconsistent with its naming, sometimes listing these models without the Sound name and without the hyphen, i.e. Roberts MP43) and it's the larger that we're looking at today.
Immediately when you remove the MP-53 from its box you're put in mind of a quality device. The glossy black finish looks deep and rich while the front panels, speaker grills, and iPod dock are all finished to a high level. There's also a reassuring weight to the whole thing, despite its compact dimensions of 35cm x 12cm x 26cm. This is mainly due to its solid wooden interior construction. It's not quite the same level of finish you get on more expensive (£500) rivals like the Vita Audio R4 but it's not far off.
The MP-53's CD drive is of the slot-loading variety (as found on most of these all-in-ones), so you won't be able to use small or misshapen CDs, which may disappoint fans of Green Day.
Below the CD slot is the display, which uses an LCD panel. This means visibility can drop off when viewing it from an angle but this drop off is not as severe as we've seen on many similar devices. The display is also commendable for the amount and nature of information it carries.
At the top there's a large clock display that's easily visible from across a large room. Below this are two lines of generic alphanumeric characters for displaying date, radio station, track, and other miscellaneous information. Dotted above these and to either side of the clock display are further specific icons for displaying volume level, audio source, alarms, playback modes, etc. It's a very clear and easy to use display, which is far from a given on such devices.
Below the display sits the only control (bar the CD eject button) on the unit itself, which has a black anodised machined metal finish. This is the volume dial that also doubles as the power button when pressed. As with the rest of the device this feels very sturdy and well made with no hint of wobble or rattle. Surrounding it is a ring of blue light that we think is rather fetching. However, Roberts has been mindful of light sleepers (or of those that are easily distracted) as the brightness of the ring of light, along with the backlight for the display, can be turned down when in standby mode.