T+A Caruso R All-In-One Player/DAC/Amp Page 2

In typical T+A style this is clear, logical, and well sorted, greatly enhancing the user-experience. As the final plank of its lifestyle appeal, the system also has a trio of microphones mounted in its top-plate to support Alexa voice-commands, although these can be muted should one be wary about who might be listening!

sqnote Rich Mix
Used with a variety of speakers, from a tiny and very inexpensive pair of Roth Oli RA1 bookshelf boxes, which were a surprisingly good visual match, right up to my substantial-sounding Neat Iota Xplorer floorstanders [HFN Jul '18], the Caruso R proved both an entirely enjoyable listen, and an extremely safe one.

821ta.remThe sound here is more on the rich and slightly soft side, rather than the last word in space and openness, but that wouldn't be the first time I'd made such an observation about a product from this stable, going all the way up to its heavyweight amplification separates.

Indeed, it seems to be a conscious decision on the part of the T+A engineers to make products with a sound that's both musically fulfilling and exceptionally easy to enjoy. It's a balance flattering to a wide range of speakers, and what the Caruso R lacks in the finer nuances of detail and soundstage focus, it more than makes up in a sense of weight and authority. This is allied to decent dynamic ability, meaning that while the sound is never less than rich, it also has decent punch and drive, whether with big orchestral forces or mainstream rock.

True, you probably wouldn't choose this little system if you existed on a diet of rap or metal, as its bass can become a bit overwhelmed with the really low, slamming stuff, sounding just a bit slow and one-note under duress, but then such listeners are arguably not the target market for a system of this kind. You can adjust tone and balance in the menu system, while a 'contour' control is there to adjust the clarity and warmth, but the effects are relatively minimal – and the system really doesn't need more bass or warmth!

Major Scale
Due to the way the Caruso R operates, all its inputs and onboard sources deliver a fairly uniform sound quality – well, they do all go through the same digital processing and Class D amplifier – which is either a limitation or a consistency, depending on how you look at it. Within the context of what is clearly a lifestyle-oriented system, and likely to be bought almost as much on its looks as its performance, that's no bad thing, especially given that the presentation is never less than entirely entertaining.

The lush, smooth sound is well-suited to the Anne-Sofie Mutter/John Williams collaboration Across The Stars [DG 4797553]. Yes, a bit more bite to the solo violin wouldn't go amiss, but this set of familiar movie themes is hardly the most cutting-edge of projects, and the generous balance of the Caruso R driving the Neat floorstanders makes the most of the soloist's generous tone and the scale of the orchestra.


Looking from 'underneath' the Caruso R shows the switchmode PSU [topmost] and TI Class D amp modules [left, middle PCB] adjacent to a Libre Wi-Fi module and Cirrus Logic SRC [centre]. CD drive mech is below [far right]

Talking Radio
The same goes for Toto's 2002 'covers' album Through The Looking Glass [CMC 5421442], where the easy-going sound is perfectly suited to the faint air of 'why did they bother?' hanging around the literal takes on familiar tracks on this set. Maybe this is a compilation built for yacht-rock, but it clearly brings out the high quality of the engineering on offer here. I'll also note in passing that the Caruso R's radio section offered a good account of itself with a two-part biography of Chris Barber as part of Radio 2's May Bank Holiday 'Celebrates Jazz' season.

The system also did a good job of playing Yello's Yell40Years retrospective collection [Polydor 0602435738178]. Granted, this music can sound more room-shaking in the hands of a big system than it did here, but the sheer quality of the production on these tracks was readily apparent, and the balance was never dull or lacking in impact.

The old 'yes, but a system of separates for the same money...' argument hangs heavy over the Caruso R in sheer sonic terms, but the ease with which the system can be enjoyed, even when playing through a little pair of inexpensive speakers, shouldn't be overlooked, and it certainly has the ability to deliver when some more challenging partners are on offer.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The Caruso R may have no shortage of competition, but there's much to like about the sound on offer from this slick-looking little unit. Its appeal is boosted by the flexibility and ease with which it can be set up and used, whether via touchscreen, app or Alexa commands. More than merely good enough for its intended market, the Caruso R's smooth and very generous balance will surely win it fans.

T+A elektroakustik GmbH & Co. KG
Supplied by: The Audio Business, UK
01249 704669