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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Desktop source: iPod Classic 160GB, Onkyo ND-S1 digital-direct iPod dock
Desktop preamplifier: NuForce HDP
Desktop amplifier: Dayens Ampino
Desktop speakers: Dayens Tizo
Review Component Retail: €300

Certain advanced implementations of technology are indistinguishable from magic and miracles. Take Teac's SR-100i. Here you get an all-in-one table top CD receiver with integral iPod dock, zero button clutter and a perfectly intuitive remote. If you've ever watched a top-loading CD player with a glass or no cover spin a disc, you know how the eccentric orbit of our silvery slivers is rarely perfectly circular. How can a laser even track that wobbly data whizzing by without missing a beat? Now have that CD spin upright but in a slight angle as it does in the Teac. Add speakers, a 10-station preset RDS 87.5MHz to 108MHz FM tuner section, 50wpc amplification, a wake-up timer and an iPod dock*. For good measure finally affix a full retail sticker of €300. As far as manufacturing and global shipping infrastructure go—Teac obviously leverages corporate scale and mass distribution—the SR-100i borders on the miraculous. How can they sell it for that and make a profit? What does it actually cost to make? Upon consideration you might well come up blank. That's my point. On functionality and price, the SR-100i is a head scratcher especially for those of us brainwashed by the pricing conventions of high-end audio where a power cord costs more.

* Dock-compatible Apple models are 3rd Gen and newer iPods ((3rd-gen units won't charge however), all Touch models (some may require airplane mode), all iPhone models, iPod mini and all Nanos. The iPod Shuffle and 1st and 2nd Gen iPods must connect via an external dock through the analog inputs.

B&W's iconic Zeppelin now in 2nd generation as Zeppelin Air to support wireless communication with iDevices [right] was the most likely inspiration for Teac's form factor.
Teac's €200 SR-80i goes taller, chucks the CD slot, moves the iPod dock into its place and upgrades to digital-direct iTunes processing where the SR100i's dock is analog.

As a speaker specialist, Bowers & Wilkins' web presentation of the Zeppelin Air naturally focuses on their driver tech [above]; the fact that each of their 5 drive units is actively filtered and powered by its own class D module for a total of 150 watts; and then proceeds to show us the works on streaming videos. By comparison Teac's web info on the SR-100i is at best marginal and at worst embarrassing. I had to petition Swiss dealer Stephan Hartmann who dispatched the review loaner to contact on my behalf when my own contacts with the company failed to return technical email queries on what's inside their unit. Stephan had better luck. The built-in drive units are 2 x 38mm tweeters and 2 x 91mm woofers in a bass-reflex alignment. The 50wpc (75w peak) amplifier is a Texas Instruments TPA3123, the D/A converter a standard IC-based unit.

As dealer floor model I was simply leery of attempting to pop the integral grills off the plastic body for a look-see myself. As their photo of the unit's back shows, the SR-100i sports a USB mini port to read USB flash memory (but not to interface with a hard disk); one analog input; and an antenna socket. The CD slot on top is bracketed by three buttons on each side. From left to right that's the function switch handling on/off before converting into source select by toggling sequentially through iPod, CD, USB, FM and Aux; play/pause; stop; eject; volume - and volume +. A push on the hidden tray fronted by the TEAC logo in the plastic-chromed dress band ejects the iPod dock. Once mounted the iPod's back is nicely supported by the table radio's curved front itself.