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Olive Opus 4HD Hi-Fi Music Server Preview

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Olive Opus 4HD Music Server

Olive Opus 4HD Music Server

Summary

  • Product Name: Opus 4HD
  • Manufacturer: Olive
  • Review Date: November 26, 2009 01:45
  • MSRP: $1,999
  • First Impression: Mildly Interesting
  • Buy Now
Best-in-breed Digital-Analog-Converter (DAC)
  • Proprietary, high resolution DAC featuring Texas Instruments' 192khz/24-bit Burr-Brown PCM1792A

  • DAC may be used as an outboard DAC for any digital music source. With 24-bit/192kHz oversampling, noise and distortion are ultra low, resulting in incredible purity in both high frequencies and low-level detail.

State of the art technology platform & high-speed processor.

  • Ample processing power for multi-tasking

  • Simultaneous recording of and listening to CDs

  • Flawless encoding and decoding of lossless audio format

  • Fast management and access to extensive music libraries

Color LCD 4.3" wide-aspect ratio, high-resolution touchscreen (480 x 272 pixels)

  • Superior color and image quality

  • See more of your music information and browse by album artwork

  • Color-coded touchscreen navigation lets you find your music fast

Hard Drive Ultra-quiet 2TB drive, cushioned in 8 layers of noise canceling padding.

  • Holds almost 20,000 HD tracks or 6,000 CDs in original CD sound quality

Design Energy-efficient design and heavy-gauge, heat dissipating aluminum enclosure.

  • Passive cooling without noisy fan

  • Ultra-quiet operations. Be the only one whistling to your music.

CD mechanism TEAC CD-R/RW

  • High fidelity CD audio playback

  • Protective lip on CD slot to eliminate noise from internal components and protect CDs

Networking Wired Gigabit Ethernet

  • Fast bandwidth for seamless multi-room audio streaming

  Wireless 54 Mbit/s (802.11n)   Encryption WEP + WPA, 64- and 128-bit

  • Ultimate security

Audio Outputs Analog 1x RCA, 24k gold-plated

  • Wide variety of high-quality audio outputs to connect to your stereo system

  • Digital 1x digital output S/P DIF optical Toslink, 1x digital output S/P DIF coaxial cinch, 24k gold-plated Digital Inputs S/P DIF optical Toslink, 24k gold-plated   Audio Formats WAV, FLAC, MP3 (128 and 320 kbit/s), AAC (128 kbit/s).

  • Bit rate: 16bits, 20bit, 24bits, Sampling Frequency: 10kHz up to 200kHz

Other Ports 1x USB 1.1/2.0

  • Backup your music library to an external hard drive

  • IR Input. Connect an external IR Receiver to control your Olive 4HD if it is behind solid cabinet doors.

Color Silver or Black

  • Fits perfectly into your stereo system

Measurements Width 17.13"
Height 3.35"
Depth 11.42"
Weight 13.2 lb 

Executive Overview

Media streaming is not only the future, it is now. It seems that every new device on the market either has an Ethernet port or has wireless connectivity. This is bringing services like Netflix and Amazon OnDemand into the living room. It is also allowing streaming from networked computers. Newer A/V receiver and display products are coming with this and more. We've reviewed Olive products in the past and have been impressed with their quality and ease of use. One of our complaints has been lack of onscreen GUI and hard drive size. Their new flagship product - the Opus 4HD - addresses both of these and more.

The Olive Opus 4HD is the top of the line offering from Olive. This product is wrapped in a stylish aluminum case with a slanted front in either black or silver. There are the usual assortments of controls on the faceplate including a disc control (play/pause, skip, eject) and menu controls. The Opus 4HD has a full color 4.3" screen with touch control (which begs the questions as to why they need the menu control buttons). As previous Olive offerings, the Opus 4HD sports a slot-loading disc drive and this model comes with 2TB of storage. The drives are a passively cooled and ultra-quiet design to eliminate distracting noise.

Opus 4HD back

We've found in the past is that Olive products are extremely easy to use and load with music, but nothing will eliminate the need to insert discs manually... until now. Olive as always offered a music loading service where you send them your discs and they load them unto your new server. This, of course, was always at a cost. With the Opus 4HD, Olive is throwing in 100 discs for free as well as 12 of the best Chesky Records' HD tracks for free. Since the Opus 4HD sports Texas Instruments' 192khz/24-bit Burr-Brown PCM1792A DACs, it can take full advantage of the higher recording bitrate on these HD tracks. This is also a great solution for those in love with HDtracks high quality downloads.

The Opus 4HD can be used as an outboard DAC for any digital music source. It multitasks well with the ability to record and playback music at the same time. So if you have to be sitting in front of the thing as you are loading up all your music, at least you can listen to some of it at the same time. The Opus 4HD supports WAV, FLAC, MP3 (128 and 320 kbit/s), AAC (128 kbit/s) encoding really missing only Apple Lossless. The 2 TB of storage combined with FLAC support pretty much guarantees that only the most ostentatious music collections won't be able to be uploaded with plenty of room to spare (2TB can store roughly 4000 CDs with lossless compression). While the Opus 4HD sports HDMI and digital audio outputs, it is really meant to be connected via analogue. You don't spend that much on DACs just to have your pre-amp do the digital to analogue conversion. That being said, we're disappointed that Olive is continuing to neglect the multi-channel content out there. At least for HDtracks, you can download multi-channel high quality tracks and we'd like to see support for those as well.

Connectivity is taken care of either wirelessly via 802.11n at 54Mbit/s with WEP + WPA 64 and 128 bit encryption support, or wired via Gigabit Ethernet. With a wired connection you should have no problems streaming just about anything short of Blu-ray (and probably that as well). There is a USB port on the back for backing up your library to an external hard drive (a huge bonus for those that have spent HOURS uploading and don't want to have to do it again) and an IR port for integration into a universal remote system.

Conclusion

Opus 4HD silverSure the Olive Opus 4HD is cool, there is no doubt about that. The case is cool, the functionality is cool, and the DACs are certainly cool. We like that you can use it as an outboard DAC for another digital music source (just one) but wish there was multi-channel support. The connectivity and interface is top notch (as far as we can tell) and our experience with Olive leads us to believe that the product will have a few surprises that will impress us (the Symphony could be used as a wireless access point to other devices). The problem is that for $2k you are getting 2TB of storage and some great DACs. Cool, but nearly everything is streaming these days (HTiBs are coming out now with networking). Do they have the storage or the DACs? No, but if you are streaming from your home or office computer you don't need the storage and DACs are only used when you are planning on using analogue connectivty through the output of the system. For those that want a beautiful box with all the functionality in one place and more storage than you'll can imagine for your two-channel collection, the Opus 4HD is it. It's the last box you'll need. The question really is: do you need it at all?

About the author:

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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Recent Forum Posts:

thegreenline posts on January 30, 2011 18:39
Escient music servers.

I don't own an Olive yet? I have owned an Escient Fireball for almost two years now. I picked it up used on Audiogon, best 400 dollars I've spent on my audio system since I started putting it together (1999). I work with guys who tell me a computer setup is just as good for a lot less. I don't think anyone can put togather a computer system for $400, that works as well as my Escient. The user interface is about as easy as it gets, everyone in the family can use it.

My wife was complaining that I had this great sounding system, but it was to much trouble to listen to CDs (open one cabinet, open CD drawer, pick a CD , Close drawer and cabinet, open another cabinet, open DVD player etc.). Not worth the hassle. I setup this Escient Fireball and now everyone in the house is listening to more music. When I want to listen to music I usually listen to the turntable, but because this Fireball is so easy I've been listening to it more often.

My next upgrade will probally be a quality DAC (now I'm using the DAC from my reciever). The Olive or the Escient are viable alternatives for those of us who want to listen to their music not play with setting it up (I've spent 10 years setting up my system it's now time to enjoy listening to it). That's not to say I'm done upgrading.

My system so far includes:

Samsung PN58A550 TV (58 in plasma)
Pioneer SC-25 Rcvr
Panasonic BD 655 Blu-Ray player
Oppo DV 981HD SACD/DVD-A player
Escient Fireball E-120 Music Server
Pro-Ject 2Experiance Turntable
Pro-Ject Phono 2 Phono Amp
Sumiko BluePt. No. 2 Cartridge
AV123 Strata Mini Front L&R Main spkrs
AV123 Rocket RSC 200 Center spkr
Klipsch RS-35 Surround spkrs
Boston CR6 Back Surround spkrs
DirectTV HR21 HD Sat DVR
Sony SAT-T60 TiVo SD DVR

Some kind of DAC in the future
pimento posts on January 28, 2011 14:07
iPhone Music Player

Hi,

Like many of you I am an owner of an Olive 4 music server. Although generally impressed with the device, I have grown to become quite frustrated at the software implementation and, in particular, the iPhone app. What I really wanted was a way to browse my library and stream music to an iPhone so that several people could listen to whatever albums they wanted, anywhere in the house.

Over the past several months I have been working on an app to do this and am pleased to say that it has recently passed review and the first release of the Pimento iPhone app is now available at the iTunes store. Browse or search your stored library within a rich graphical interface and stream music (mp3 and lossless m4a formats) to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

In addition, albums can now be downloaded back from your music server (in the album view press and hold each album for 2 seconds to queue for download). Downloaded albums will appear in the iPimento application folder within iTunes.

KEY FEATURES:
- browse or search music by album, artist, song or playlist.
- view track metadata.
- stream music across wifi networks to multiple devices (currently supports mp3 and apple m4a lossless files, working to implement flac support in a future release).
- download albums from the music server (mp3, m4a, flac).

I've posted a short demonstration video on YouTube which can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOz0dnrbXVw

Tested on the Olive Opus 4/4HD but should work with later models as well.

If you have any questions or suggestions for additional features you would like to see in future versions please contact me at: [email protected]

Cheers,

Jay
krzywica posts on December 11, 2009 18:38
firedog, post: 658688
I don't know what DACs you've listened to, but there are large and very audible differences between them. I have 2 at home that sound so different I can tell which one is playing as soon as I hear it. And that's not unusual.

That may be the case if your source device is doing the digital to analog conversion. You will find this not to be the case with the majority of the forum members here myself included.

My receiver decodes 100% of my content regardless of the source (and I only have one ).

Sure it may have good DAC's but who cares if my preamp/receiver has just as good or better ones, why pay for what you will never use?
egoss posts on December 11, 2009 17:47
davidtwotrees, post: 658690
This is an objectivist site. We don't blindly accept subjectivist statements based on psychoacoustics. Next you'll be telling us you can hear the difference between cables and speaker wire.

Firedog - It's obvious that you and I have no business on this Forum. If 128k is good enough for them, and they can't hear the differences in properly executed, well made Hi-fi components and poorly designed, thrown-together hardware, I'm outa here.

Bye.
davidtwotrees posts on December 11, 2009 08:02
firedog, post: 658688
I don't know what DACs you've listened to, but there are large and very audible differences between them. I have 2 at home that sound so different I can tell which one is playing as soon as I hear it. And that's not unusual.
This is an objectivist site. We don't blindly accept subjectivist statements based on psychoacoustics. Next you'll be telling us you can hear the difference between cables and speaker wire.
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