Como Audio should borrow a popular tagline of “Solid Gold” radio stations to describe its top-of-the-line music box, the Musica. This player truly offers the best of yesterday and today, harking back to the golden age of high-end, ultra-compact stereo systems while also paying heed to our current passions for streaming music from all-you-can-eat online services, Bluetooth-enabled smartphones and tablets, and NAS boxes. 

While other home entertainment systems are eliminating CD transports and FM radio tuners from home stereo gear, the Musica includes both legacy formats. There’s an “automobile grade” slot CD drive, that Como Audio founder Tom DeVesto says is “ready for the billions of CDs still sitting on consumers shelves,” plus an on-board FM tuner with RDS (Radio Data System) support that “can keep you connected to the world when you’re out of range of  Wi-Fi” (or an ethernet cable).

This streaming music convert really appreciated those features on a recent weekend, when my internet service took a fall and couldn’t get up ‘til Monday. That outage got me listening with great pleasure to some recently acquired discs—including a new Bob Dylan collection of early career concert sessions (Live 1962-1966: Rare Performances from the Copyright Collections) and  a couple of the Steven Wilson-helmed remixes of the Jethro Tull catalog (Aqualung and Songs from the Wood).

como audio musica on shelf Como Audio

The Musica is available in a wide array of classical wood veneer finishes.

That stuff really came to life with the Musica’s well-matched 3-inch voice coil woofers and 3/4-inch dome tweeters, spaced just wide enough in the 16-inch-across package to produce appreciable stereo effects, and warmed up for musicality with ported, composite (MDF) wood cabinetry. The Musica has an authentic Hi-Fi feel to it, with an uncolored accuracy and presence that lets you hear the breath propelling Ian Anderson’s flute work, or the contact “click” of a plastic pick strumming bronze strings on Mr. D’s Martin guitar.

In my hours of need, I also pulled up the FM whip antenna hiding on the back of the Musica to reconnect with a favorite eclectic weekend morning show (Sleepy Hollow), produced at my local (Philadelphia) non-commercial station WXPN. I can’t say the radio reception was as pristine as I normally enjoy hearing the show (via its internet stream or on other house radios, which are better at filtering the hash noise from a nearby, pole-mounted power transformer). And it didn’t help matters that the Musica’s antenna can only swing to the sides and back, not forward (as I needed for optimum signal grabbing in my home setup). Still, it was better than nothing.

When all is well in internet-service provider land, the Musica also offers a goodly selection of service options, including more than 30 thousand internet radio stations from around the world, many of which are commercial free. You can also access subscription fee-based versions of Spotify (with support for Spotify Connect), Tidal, Deezer, and Napster that deliver surprisingly wide-open performances through this compact system. Pandora and the streaming version of Sirius/XM (popular options on other smart speakers) are not currently onboard, though; and Amazon Music Unlimited (one of my faves) is promised as a “coming-soon” addition that will be delivered to current Como Audio devices via a wireless software update.

como audio musica on tv ttable Jonathan Takiff

Although the Musica doesn’t have HDMI, you could output your TV’s audio to its speakers using its digital optical cable.

In the meantime, I’ve been pushing those missing links to the box from my iPad Pro via Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX, Qualcomm’s “CD quality” encoding/decoding scheme which both the iPad and the Musica support (as both the sender and receiver must do for aptX to work). This cute thing also handles Apple’s AAC codec for the iTunes set.

Designed as a centerpiece for a living-room rig, as well as the anchor for a multi-room audio system, the Musica could take a place of honor under your TV set and supplant the telly’s crap sound with its much more refined performance, using its optical input for to connect. Two 3.5mm stereo analog inputs are also offered, along with a USB port for enjoying tunes stored on a portable hard drive. That port can also trickle-charge mobile devices, although it only puts out one amp. You can also stream music stored on network sources, such as a NAS box or a client PC, with either a wired or wireless connection to your network.

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