Do not underestimate the importance of starting your day off right. Most people hate the harsh, buzzing sound of their alarm clocks. The hostility and anger generated at the incessant beeping that shakes you out of slumber can easily be carried forward through your entire day. Yamaha is looking to rectify this problem with their new lineup of iPod speaker docks which have built-in alarm clock functionality. There are multiple models and the TSX-80 represents one of Yamaha's most compact offerings for the masses.
With the TSX-80, Yamaha has decided to go for an old school design. The unit seems to be a cross between the radios of yore and oscilloscopes normally found in laboratories. A mixture of knobs and buttons greets you as soon as you set eyes on the unit. The good thing is that the slightly curved pastel color front panel projects a soft friendly vibe. This easily offsets the 'techie' but functional knobs/buttons and makes the entire setup look fairly harmonious. Seems like Yamaha has decided to do away with garish colors, which are so in vogue with speaker manufacturers these days. Instead, Yamaha is offering a selection of three classy pastels (dark purple, ivory and light blue).
With respect to hardware, the TSX-80 is packs dual 40mm full range drivers in the front, while a 55mm woofer within helps out with the low end of the audio spectrum. The woofer is a passive radiator and leverages on Yamaha’s Swing Radiator Bass technology where the vibrations from the main diaphragm are also used to provide input. All of this is rolled up into a rectangular form factor that measures in at a very compact 260mm by 90.3mm by 141mm (L x H x D).
As mentioned earlier, this docking speaker is meant to double-up as a soothing alarm clock by using desired audio tracks. IntelliAlarm, a feature built-in with the TSX-80 to assist on the alarm clock functionality, lets you select the audio track that you wish to wake up to. Notably, it starts off by removing the high frequencies from the audio spectrum (according to Yamaha) and then gradually restores the full range of sound. We'll relate our experience of this on the following performance page. For further ease of use and setup, the TSX-80 also has a remote control.
We noted some drawbacks though and the first is the fact that the dock does not have an option to run off batteries and hence needs to be plugged in to a power outlet at all times. A few other downsides with the TSX-80 is that it doesn't have an option to interface with other products due to the lack of a USB port and 3.5mm line-in audio jack. This is strictly an iPod speaker dock.
In addition to the alarm clock, the Yamaha TSX-80 also provides the user with access to FM radio. You can also store the five radio stations you tune in to most frequently as presets thus eliminating the pesky need to scan through all the frequencies.
From the list of features and the design, it is obvious that the Yamaha TSX-80 is intended for your bedside table or work desk rather than a prime position in your living room.
While different users may have certain preferences for particular sonic palates, we try to remain as neutral and balanced as possible when reviewing audio devices. With that in mind, our test materials span across a diverse range of audio variety.
For the Yamaha TSX-80, we had to tweak our regular test bed slightly. Since the speakers only allow playback from iPods and iPhones, we used an Apple iPod Classic (160GB) and had to remove our usual Gaming and DVD Testing sections restricting ourselves to just tracks compiled from our CD and MP3 Testing suite.