Set and forget solid-state playback device and FM tuner.
Text:/ Christopher Holder
Bosch has a long history of producing capable, well-engineered round pegs that neatly drop into round holes. The PLE-SDT is no exception. Its full title is the PLE-SDT Easy Line Source Unit, and should hint at this unit’s MO — no complications. Within a couple of minutes of busting open the box, I had the unit plugged in and playing back audio. And this is a device you could easily sell into retail, hospitality, gyms, etc., safe in the knowledge that the customer won’t be phoning you for ‘technical assistance’.
On one side of the front panel you have music playback via an SD/MMC card or USB stick and on the other side you have an FM tuner. Around the back you have separate RCA outputs for the tuner, the solid-state playback section and a ‘combined’ output (for playing one or other on the same output, not for impromptu mashups of ABC FM with a stick full of Ministry of Sound). Also on the back panel are (non-detented) level pots for the three outputs.
Clearly the idea here is for customers to have a permanently installed set/forget background music solution. With the device able to take cards/sticks of up to 32GB capacity, that’s plenty of music to have at your disposal. You can organise your music into folders (say, for example, a restaurant/bar may have Breakfast, Daytime, Dinner and Late Night) and you can design your own playlists.
With its unbalanced outputs there’s no pretence of audiophile audio quality. In fact, the quality of the audio is going to be far more dependent on the bit rate of the MP3s you’re saving to your flash memory device (it handles 32kbps to 320kbps, and both constant bit-rate and variable bit-rate are supported). Meanwhile, I found the FM signal to be strong and reliable, and there are more than enough presets for easy switching between stations.
The PLE-SDT has a handy Sleep mode (programmable from 10 to 90 minutes of inactivity).
Here’s a well-engineered hard-working rackmount warrior that will serve its purpose in life uncomplaining — playing hundreds of hours of background music without any supervision — for years.
What not to expect? Don’t expect a digital radio tuner. Don’t expect any level of external control (the USB ports are for your music files only) other than the supplied remote. Don’t expect any other output formats than the three RCA pairs.
I can assure you, there’s no need to audition this thing. If the application fits, just phone and order.
Bosch Communications Systems: www.boschcommunications.com.au or (02) 9683 4752
Price: $599 (inc GST)