Blue Smoke's "The Black Box" Music Server Revealed
The touchscreen music server market has picked up a new face with the official release of Blue Smoke's "The Black Box". Demonstrated in prototype form at last year's CES, the final version is a sleek, um, black box with a single disc slot on the front and an array of connectors on the back. Retail is $6995 and should be hitting dealer shelves Q1 2009.
Inside the DC powered box is a custom tailored PC running Vista, which according to designer Peter Sills, is the best operating system for processing digital audio. Due to an array of heat sinks on either side of the box, there are no fans inside, which makes for dead quiet operation in the listening room. The Black Box also comes with a dedicated wireless keyboard.
Users need to purchase a touchscreen (the company was using a $500 15" Elo display in their demo), a DAC of their choice, and some NAS media drives for storge. Sills describes The Black Box as an open system which accomodates a wide variety of audio formats and sample rates. He personally recommends WMA Lossless and WavPack for best sound quality.
Sills says that the internal drive can rip any audio format from CD or DVD with sample rates up to 192kHz and 24 bits. I was able to use the touchscreen briefly and it appeared fairly responsive as I navigated through hundreds of albums sorted by artist, genre or title.