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Tivoli Audio Radio Silenz review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £119
inc VAT

The set looks pretty, but these noise cancelling headphones are overpriced for their sound quality

Tivoli Audio is new to making headphones, but the American company has developed a reputation for sharp design and good sound quality, although its products aren’t cheap. Wooden earpieces make the Tivoli Radio Silenz headphones particularly distinctive and is part of Tivoli’s drive to incorporate wooden cases and acoustic chambers in much of its product range. The smooth finish and natural grain is incredibly attractive and it makes you want to touch the headphones. Sadly, the rest of the headphones’ design is more mundane.

Tivoli Radio Silenz Side-on

The headphones are designed to be compact, so they have a thin, flexible and slightly fragile-feeling headband. The ear cups can be folded inwards to make the headphones more portable, and they can be adjusted to fit any skull, from small to large, so comfort isn’t a problem.

The headphones are light enough to wear all day. Indeed, they weigh 100g and the entire unit, including the battery and noise-cancelling control box, comes in at just 137g. The box includes a noise cancellation switch, a volume control and a “defeat” button that stops music and plays all the external sound picked up by the noise cancelling system instead. This makes it easy to hear announcements or conversations.

Because they sit so lightly on the ear, it doesn’t really feel as though you’re blocking out the world. Instead, the headphones’ active noise cancelling wraps you in a wall of silence that blocks droning irritations such as the noise of engines, air-conditioners and servers. Active noise cancellation (ANC) uses microphones located on the headphones to pick up ambient noise. The unit’s circuitry then generates an interfering sound wave to cancel out the background noise. This works best with regular low-frequency sounds, such as engine noise, but it does little against other sounds such as conversations and clattering computer keyboards. ANC headphones require a separate power source and some people find them uncomfortable to use, perceiving part of the interference wave as a high-pitched whine.

Tivoli Radio Silenz Folded

Unlike many cheaper ANC headphones the Radio Silenz didn’t produce too much audible hiss under most circumstances, although the circuitry’s attempt to cancel the pile drivers from the building site next door resulted in occasional spikes of faint hissing. This isn’t audible when you’re listening to music, but it might become annoying if you just want to eliminate background noise while sitting in silence.

Sadly, the Radio Silenz is slightly lacking in bass and a sense of space compared to our reference Shure SRH550DJ on-ear headphones. However, we appreciated the clear, bright treble tones that really bring out of the character of complex, overdriven guitar music. The headphones generally do this without sounding too harsh, but some richness and detail was lost on mid-range vocals. We encountered no loss of audio quality when we disabled ANC, but the headphones were somewhat quiet either with or without ANC.

Nit-picking aside, the audio quality is certainly adequate for headphones of this size, style and weight. However, we were disappointed to find the Radio Silenz was actually less effective at blocking out noise than our reference sound-isolating earphones or a set of closed-back DJ headphones. They’re comfortable to wear for extended periods, but they don’t match up to




Typeon-ear headphones
Active noise-cancellingyes
Power source1x AAA
Frequency response20-20,000Hz
Impedence32 ohms
Plug type3.5mm headset jack plug
Inline volumeYes
Cable length1.50m
Extrassoft carrying pouch, airplane adaptor

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