- Good sound quality
- Interesting design
- Highly portable
- Very limited features
- No DAB
- Review Price: £99.99
- Internal rechargeable battery, up to 20hr
- Rubber sleeve
- FM tuner
- 2.5in full range driver
- Aux input
When most radios we review are rectangles with front buttons and a carry handle, the Sonoro CuboGo is a welcome change. An upright unit with a speaker outlet right up top, it’s both unusual and clearly design-led.
The form is surprisingly practical, though. As long as you don’t have tiny hands, it’s slender enough to grip and take around with you, and the removable rubber casing positively encourages doing so. The plastic inner of the CuboGo is topped with a thick, removable rubber sheath. This makes it easy to clean and easy to style. A fistful of variously-coloured covers are available, including ones finished with felt rather than rubber.
Two random picks from the Sonoro sleeve catalogue
The design makes sense from a sonic perspective too. It acts as a good-sized cabinet for the 2.5in full range driver inside, while keeping the footprint absolutely tiny. We’ll cover what sort of sound it produces later.
Operation is very simple. When in use, the only controls you’ll see are the rotary volume/power switch that sits on top by the speaker grille and aerial, and a switch on the CuboGo’s side that lets you flick between the FM tuner and the auxiliary input.
This is the one spot of future-proofing Sonoro can claim for the CuboGo. The FM signal is planned to be switched off between 2017 and 2022 according to the Digital Radio Working Group, but heaven help us if they take our 3.5mm jack-to-jack cables. Sonoro bundles a decent-quality one with the unit.
But what about controlling the radio? On the underside of the CuboGo is a large tuner dial – there’s not a hint of digital to this product. Its action is smooth, with none of the uneven scratchiness of some cheapo radios of old. As used as we are to flicking through DAB and internet radio stations, tuning here feels great and reception is excellent.
With the top telescopic aerial down, we found it easy to get a lock onto the main radio stations. So easy that it seems as though there might be some clever signal-seeking tech going on in the background – but maybe that’s just the gadget hound in us looking for something high-tech-sounding and flash.
A naked CuboGo – battery cover on show
The quality fittings, the non-plastic sleeve and the reassuring 700g weight make the Sonoro SuboGo feel like a top-quality product. Part of the weight is down to the internal rechargeable battery. This is designed as non-removable, its cover held in place with screws. As it powers an FM tuner rather than the more power-hungry DAB type, it’ll last for up to 20 hours off a charge – dependent on how high you crank the volume. A charge adaptor is included in the box.
The Sonoro CuboGo has just the one speaker. You don’t get
stereo here, just mono. But the same can be said of many desktop radios,
including the excellent Pure Evoke Flow.
It uses a 2.5in driver that’s responsible for the entire frequency range. Thankfully, it makes great use of the volume of its frame in order to create fairly authoritative-sounding output. The Sonoro CuboGo compares pretty favourably with most of the £80-150 worktop radios we’ve tested recently, offering a similar level of volume and a similar level of fidelity.
This makes it perfect as a picnic, bedside or BBQ radio, but audio enthusiasts probably wouldn’t want to rely on one as a day-in, day-out music source. Its sound signature is a little like Pure’s radios, with a full and warm tone. Intricacy and top-end fidelity aren’t its strong suits, but we found the CuboGo very easy on the ear. And in its testing as a bedside radio over the last couple of weeks, we have felt no need to switch back to the £300 “Hi-Fi” DAB radio sat next to it – although this thing won’t wake you up as it has no alarm clock function.
However, hat a somewhat style-orientated, small radio can level-peg with larger units of the same price is good to hear. And the upward-firing style makes it supremely unfussy about placement.
Sound quality is not the Sonoro CuboGo’s problem. It’s that it offers fewer features than most (if not all) of its rivals, and that FM radio feels as old as a dusty Victrola. The signal quality of FM is fine, but it lacks some of the UK’s best stations including BBC 6 Music and 5 Live. We believe the curious style of the CuboGo is a symptom of its Germanic origins – where DAB radio is much less popular than here in the UK.
There’s a strong tilt factor working the Sonoro CuboGo’s favour, though. It’s different, it’s convenient and with so many colour sleeves on offer, it looks a lot more interesting than most too. Great value? Perhaps not, but this is a radio we’d quite like to actually own.
The Sonoro SuboGo is a device that doesn’t sound all that convincing on paper. A mono FM radio, for a hundred quid? The reality is much more appealing. It’s portable, extremely well-made, has a distinct, customisable design and sound quality that can compete with larger desktop radios. However, lacking DAB and internet radio, you need to rate its design and portability for its £99.99 outlay to make sense.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 8