This is a review of the T+A Caruso R. This is a new release from T+A that builds on the recent Caruso (no R). The original Caruso was effectively like a full range subwoofer with a streaming DAC, such was its power, noise and unbounded energy.
It is as intuitive as it gets
The T+A Caruso R is a ‘just add speakers’ ‘all-in-one’ HiFi system solution that does everything. It is a compliment to T+A to say it is a bit like a cuboid version of the Naim Uniti Star in both function and quality. In fact, it is very similar in size to a Naim Mu-so Qb though that of course is a streaming speaker in itself, like the original Caruso.
The T+A Caruso R features a new 7” HD touchscreen on the front that acts as a source selector and settings menu in equal measure. It is as intuitive as it gets. The rear of the Caruso R has the speaker binding posts and an array of inputs including two analogue RCA inputs, an optical TOSLink input, an SP/DIF coaxial INPUT and a USB input. There is an Ethernet LAN input and output. Other outputs include a preamplifier output as well as a subwoofer RCA out. The subwoofer output is configurable in the settings menu with crossover, levels, etc. There is also a headphone 3.5mm jack at the rear which is a fraction unhelpful, being at the back.
The integrated amplifier element of the T+A Caruso R has plenty of gusto with a nominal output of 50W into 8Ohms with peak output claimed at 75W.
But it is on the inside where everything happens and the streaming client, T+A’s NavigatorOS handles the lot, Tidal, Deezer, Amazon Music, Qobuz and Spotify Connect. It can also handle files stored on a networked server. Internet Radio is covered as is DAB+ and even FM radio.
Other inputs include Bluetooth (both in and out, output for a pair of Bluetooth KEF LS50 speakers, maybe). There is also a slot CD player located above the front touch-panel. The CD player accesses Gracenote to display album artwork and track data.
In terms of control, in addition to the 7” touchscreen, there is an App (on both Android and iOS Apple) and remote control. Under the chassis, there is a U shaped lighting panel that lights up to show the different sources. Thankfully the lighting is programmable and can be turned off, though Blue for Bluetooth remained on my review sample as it was quite useful to know.
The T+A Caruso R is 8.5kg and is very solid on the table, it comes in at 21 x 29 x 29 cm (HxWxD). The unit stands on 4 chunky square feet that have a rubber base to fix the unit to the tabletop. The sides are a matt type of black plastic embedded in aluminium casework which forms the top and base. The aluminium top is perfectly flat with three holes in an equilateral triangle arrangement, these are the microphones for Alexa.
Overall, this is a good looking box, it is engineered in Germany and it feels like it. The Caruso R has slotted seamlessly in place of the Naim Uniti Star that it has temporarily replaced in the family area where it is ‘first come first listened’ in this household.
The T+A Caruso R is supplied with a rechargeable remote control, the required USB cable for charging, antennas for Bluetooth, WLAN and FM radio and a power cord.
The T+A Caruso R is retailing at £3,000 in the UK at theaudiobusiness.co.uk
The ‘just add speakers’ I’m using are the continually excellent Kudus Cardea C10 standmounted speakers and latterly my KEF R700 floorstanding speakers.
I’ve had the T+A Caruso R both wired and wireless, both have worked seamlessly in my review period. The glowing lights in default are flashing too much for my liking but I’ve had them programmed as changing ‘very slow’ or off, depending on my mood.
Alexa is easy to enable with a code generated on the Caruso R that you need to input into a computer browser, it took me about 5 minutes to mess around, then I read the instructions and it took me just 3 minutes. Thereafter if you are an Amazon unlimited customer (£7.99/month my Caruso told me) this has fun written all over it.
Our morning routine has changed with the first in the kitchen area barking ‘Alexa, play Virgin Radio’ and away we go, brilliant. If you love Alexa you will know, we don’t have it and this is now seriously good fun.
Is not the best but it works well, and my only gripe would be not having my playlists in the right order on Tidal, though the Qobuz playlists are in the order I choose (date order or alphabetical is available very easily)? This is weird but not a big deal. I do not have Deezer, but this is there too.
Otherwise, the App makes the whole experience very enjoyable, and the remote is redundant, though it is T+A’s rechargeable remote that is top drawer in my experience of the ‘Outstanding’ HA 200.
Internet Radio and Podcasts on The App
This all works great on the App and finding all my favourite stations was a breeze, pop them in the favourites folder and you’re sorted. I found my background vibe station, Groove Salad, indeed there’s even a Groove Salad Classic now!
Podcasts are similarly easy to search and access with the same process for saving favourites and this works outstandingly well. I can’t get an FM signal being on the wrong side of a hill but DAB+ has been easy to access and sounds fine.
Qobuz and Tidal
These top streaming services are well handled, and they are smooth as you would like, the bit rate and depth are displayed in the album artwork before you press play and I appreciate this a lot over the Naim App which consistently drives me nuts with the lack of resolution data on it.
In respect of sound quality, the T+A Caruso R is a fine performer. Take the width of the acoustic guitars on the languid Your Heart Will Always be Broken (Qobuz, 24bit, 44.1kHz) on Utopian Ashes by Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream) and Jehnny Beth (The Savages). Here the width of the soundstage is fully presented in the Kudos C10 soundstage, there is height and emotion in equal measure here. The resolution in the guitar strings and the strain in Beth’s voice are equally conveyed.
Turning towards the low end as usual I turn to 2049 from Hans Zimmer’s Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack (Qobuz, 16bit, 44.1kHz). This track is dominant, and it is typically thunderous from the Caruso R that is doing a stunning job of gripping the Kudos C10s and driving them forward, with apparent ease.
In searching for pace, bounce, and rhythm I often go to Miles Kane’s track Don’t Forget Who You Are (Qobuz, 16bit/44.1kHz); here the track snaps and bounces and the T+As agility is unrelenting.
Turning to Nickleback’s (if you’re confused look at the Meze RAI Penta review) Burn It To The Ground, the Kudos C10s deliver the space required in a complex distorted rock song and there is no hint of muddiness or confusion in the midrange in the chorus of the song. The speakers can show the space in the midrange in this difficult track and this is a testament to the power and agility of the Caruso R, it is pretty impressive.
Using the network access on the App or front touchscreen, I’ve been cruising my Networked Server with ease which basically gives me access to my whole CD collection. The CD-quality input is reflected in a solid dynamic soundstage. The artwork is pulled through neatly to the 7” touchscreen.
With the base of the unit glowing blue, the Bluetooth is very acceptable and listening to an Amy Winehouse podcast on her 10 year Anniversary passing was engaging and uplifting. The BBC Sounds App streams at a pretty low rate but it is good enough to convey emotion and dialogue. The Bluetooth auto reconnects if you go out to make a cup of tea, for example.
Using my own Rega RP3 with a Rega Fono MM stage my new copy of R.E.M’s Automatic for the People had a full run out. What a fine album this is. Nothing is lost in the lyricism and music by the T+A Caruso R. I have not played with the digital inputs critically save for a quick run with a digital output from my Yamaha CD player which was more than passable and gave my tired CD player a much needed DSP upgrade.
If you do need a bit of quality at any moment the T+A Caruso R has the capability, poise, and power to deliver a dominant performance
I have thoroughly enjoyed the T+A Caruso R in the place of the Naim Uniti Star and as an everyday quality bit of living space kit, it is spot on in terms of usability, reliability, and a good sound. The addition of Alexa to our household has been hilarious. If you do need a bit of quality at any moment the T+A Caruso R has the capability, poise, and power to deliver a dominant performance with the precision you require with a decent stable App to control it all with.
Solid German engineering
Decent Reliable App
The Android App was a little bit slicker
The T+A Caruso R is retailing at £3,000 in the UK at theaudiobusiness.co.uk
Full details of the Specification are on the company’s site.