Hands-on review: Majority Quadriga Internet Radio Music System
Image credit: Majority
All the music, all the time.
The Quadriga connected music system, from Cambridge-based brand Majority, is the bigger brother of the similarly spec'ed Bard but with the addition of a CD player and heftier speakers.
Depending on your aural predilections - and possibly your age - the need for a CD player would probably be what sways your choice between the two models, as they are essentially the same otherwise. Sure, the Quadriga goes louder, but the Bard still has the potential to bother the neighbours when cranked.
We've had the Quadriga on test, mostly because we have hundreds of CDs that have been sitting in a cupboard for far too long, their only compatible player in these modern times now being the car stereo. Delving back into the collection in a domestic situation has been quietly thrilling - and the Quadriga sounds really good. The CD player is no token addition. The sound is rich and full, pumped out from the two 4-inch (10cm) mid and tweeter speaker drivers accompanied by a 6" (15cm) subwoofer. With 120W on tap, this 2.1 channel system goes loud, stays solid and presents a very engaging listen, from a lively, well-defined bass on up through the audio spectrum, right into the high-frequency 'fairy dust' region. It never sounds shrill or overly digital. Dare we say analogue-like?
From any source and with any style of music, the sound was projected well out into the room and the copious volume on tap means that - as well as going louder than you'll probably rarely, if ever, need - there is ample clean headroom to avoid distortion.
Like the Bard, the Quadriga also offers Bluetooth 5.0 and Spotify Connect, as well as DAB, DAB+, FM tuners and internet radio (an extendable antenna is included in the box for optimal radio reception), along with physical connections (RCA line-level, aux-in, a USB socket for flash drives, 3.5mm jack, digital optical inputs), and a dedicated podcast hub for immediate access to your favourite shows in one place. While it can't directly play vinyl records or cassettes, the Quadriga still offers ways to connect other players to its audio reproduction engine (e.g. Bluetooth your modern record player to the unit, or connect directly via the analogue line-in RCA jacks). The Quadriga really has pretty much every audio format covered. There's also a 1/4" headphone socket.
The Quadriga's 'black rectangle' form factor is easy to slot into a room. It's approximately the width of a standard record player, but not as deep (27cm deep x 43cm wide x 12.8cm tall). There's a large, bright TFT colour display in the centre of the unit, which provides visual feedback on operation, connection, album artwork from streaming services and so on. A row of buttons beneath the screen faciliate most functions, used in conjunction with the rotary dial to the right as a selector and volume control. The overall design is a nice blend of classic hi-fi stereo equipment, but with plenty of modern smarts.
There's also a well-specified remote control, so you can action the most-common tasks without leaving your chair, including power up and down. There is also a CD eject button on the remote, although of course you will finally have to leave your chair to actually retrieve and change the CD itself. Sorry about that.
The Quadriga is heavy - reassuringly so. It speaks of decent build quality, with a metal plate folded around an internal solid wood frame. The two front-facing speakers sit at either side of the centred screen (not a touchscreen), with the sub-woofer on the bottom.
When you turn it on for the first time you're encouraged (by the Setup Wizard) to set the system up properly, including menu language, hour and date format, checking for firmware updates and connecting it to your local wireless network. You don't have to do this - ever, as it happens - if you're in a hurry to start listening to your old CDs, although you will be missing out on a lot of the advanced internet-related features. You can just hook the thing up via Bluetooth, plug in other devices, throw on a CD just fine.
We took exactly this impatient approach for at least the first two weeks we spent with the Quadriga, playing music via Spotify, Apple Music and Vox (for Hi-Res 24/96 FLAC files) via Bluetooth, as well as rooting through our dusty CD collection to play forgotten favourites. We very quickly got lost in music. As we said above, pretty much everything sounded great, even the weakest old mp3 files and lacklustre streaming bitrates.
When you finally get around to setting the system up properly (you can summon the Setup Wizard at any time), you can start tapping into and exploring the more than 25,000 global internet radio stations that the Quadriga can pull down. The device supports 40 presets, so you can save your favourites as you find 'em. This is great if you already know you like a certain radio station from a certain territory that's only available locally otherwise.
Being a compact unit with all three speakers situated so close to each other, you're never going to get a great deal of stereo spread, unless the music has been mixed extremely wide. However, if you sit yourself directly in front of the unit, looking at the screen, and cue up a track with extreme stereo panning, such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience's 'Crosstown Traffic' (or pretty much anything from the 'Electric Ladyland' album, which shoots around all over the gaff across the stereo plane) you will clearly hear aspects of the mix travelling back and forth from speaker to speaker as intended.
Another test we did was to play The Beatles' original 'extreme L/R separation' stereo mixes of the early albums, where you can distinctly hear that John, Paul and most of the guitars are in one speaker, while the drums, bass and hand claps are in the other. Sure enough, the Quadriga put out a great representation of the song and recording intent - almost in spite of the mix's extreme panning. (Side note: obviously, you're better off with the mono mixes for most of The Beatles' albums).
There are a few additional functions that are nice to have, if not essential. A sleep timer allows you to play music for a set period (15, 30, 45, 60, 90 or 120 minutes) before the unit shuts down. There's also an alarm with snooze facility, if you want to use the Quadriga as a beast of an alarm clock. Finally, there's an equaliser on board, so you can tune the unit's sonics to your preference: choose from the supplied presets or go fully custom. Majority also offers an extended three-year warranty, once you've registered the unit, which is great, as well as planting a tree for every sale made - of any of its products, in fact - which is highly commendable.
The Quadriga is a great all-round music system. It solves nearly all the problems of listening to legacy music collections and plays nicely with other equipment to focus everything together around one device. While it does have a clutch of useful additional functions (like those mentioned above), with an all-rounder unit such as this, how it sounds is the ultimate test and the most critical demand - and the Quadriga simply sounds very good indeed. No disappointments. Very easy to recommend.
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