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CharlyD
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Looks like Olive has a winner!

It was quite exciting to read the press announcement from Olive this morning. Olive has replaced all their previous products with the Opus No.4 and Symphony No.2. The Opus is a CD-ripper, music server and music rendering device while the Symphony has identical functionality with the exception of CD-ripping. Both are DLNA/UPnP compliant devices. Both have a very nice user interface that is genre-dependent in that the fields displayed are dependent upong the genre selected. In their example, the classical genre can broken into "Composer, Date Composed, Work, Act, Scene, Key, Opus No., Cadenza, Librettist, Lyrics, Storyline, Conductor, Orchestra, Chorus, Premiere, Arranged By, Musical Period". Both devices support sample rates/word sizes of up to 96kHz/24-bit.

The Symphony, being DLNA/UPnP compliant, can connect to any compliant server. This could be a the Opus or NAS device with the appropriate server software (e.g. TwonkyVision - $39.95). This device costs only USD$599. There is no need to purchase the Opus with such a configuration.

JA - please get this pair in for review ASAP!

dcstep
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!

How 'bout ripping DVD-A and SACD and other hi-rez files. It's got some BS statement like "Future Ready". What the hell does that mean, hi rez fomats are here and now, not future.

My guess, because their site sucks so bad that can only suppose what you have to do, is that you'll have to convert to a format like AIFF or WAV. It'd be nice to have some clarity.

Anyway, my impression is that it's a great device for CD conversion and access, but anything hi rez is an afterthought as of today. I want to archive everything now at at least 24/96. I don't think Olive is there yet. Otherwise, they wouldn't still be using weasel-words for anything higher than redbook-level.

Dave

CharlyD
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!

Well you could just go to one of the many sites now offering Hi-Rez downloads (e.g. iTrax, Linn) and download a file to your server (or the Opus). The Opus can only rip to WAV, FLAC or MP3, but the Opus and Symphony can also decode AIFF and AAC. FLAC can easily support 96kHz/24-bit. A quick Google search on "DVD-A ripping" turned up several products that can do the chore. DSD is not compatible with PC file formats.

I agree that their site needs some work. I'm in no way associated with Olive and am just parroting data I've found their web site.

dcstep
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!


Quote:
Well you could just go to one of the many sites now offering Hi-Rez downloads (e.g. iTrax, Linn) and download a file to your server (or the Opus). The Opus can only rip to WAV, FLAC or MP3, but the Opus and Symphony can also decode AIFF and AAC. FLAC can easily support 96kHz/24-bit. A quick Google search on "DVD-A ripping" turned up several products that can do the chore. DSD is not compatible with PC file formats.


Yeah, I know how to do it, but why not make a device that does the conversion in one step? Oppo can read most formats for $170. When one of these servers includes integrated down-conversion and/or up-conversion in hi-rez, then they'll have me as a customer.

Dave

CharlyD
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!


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Yeah, I know how to do it, but why not make a device that does the conversion in one step?


What do you mean by one step? The Opus (or a PC/Mac) can rip a CD to a WAV, FLAC or AAC format that can be rendered by a networked player.

Quote:
When one of these servers includes integrated down-conversion and/or up-conversion in hi-rez, then they'll have me as a customer.


If your rendering device supports hi-rez, why would you want to down-convert? If you're starting with CD, upconversion won't get you any better resolution than the original. Looking at my search results for "DVD-A ripping" it looks like the RIAA aggressively goes after purveyors of code to rip a DVD-A to your hard drive. This may not be a viable option.

dcstep
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!


Quote:

Quote:
Yeah, I know how to do it, but why not make a device that does the conversion in one step?


What do you mean by one step? The Opus (or a PC/Mac) can rip a CD to a WAV, FLAC or AAC format that can be rendered by a networked player.


One step, means one step. Put the software in the front of the device and it gets copied to the HD with no intervening steps. Several devices do this with CD, but no hi rez formats that I'm aware of.

Quote:
When one of these servers includes integrated down-conversion and/or up-conversion in hi-rez, then they'll have me as a customer.


If your rendering device supports hi-rez, why would you want to down-convert? If you're starting with CD, upconversion won't get you any better resolution than the original. Looking at my search results for "DVD-A ripping" it looks like the RIAA aggressively goes after purveyors of code to rip a DVD-A to your hard drive. This may not be a viable option.


The Olive "supports hi rez" but there's no discussion of how to get into the machine except to say the machine is "future ready" or some similar BS. Why stop at 24/96 when DACs are so inexpensive?

If the resolution is 24/96 I have to down-convert any file of higher resolution.

I'm downloading 24/196 and recording 1-bit DSD at 5.6MHz. I have legal software to down-convert, but I'm waiting for a server that deals with 254/196 or 192, rather than down-converting a bunch of stuff into 24/96 when something better will be available in a few months.

No one the music server business, not even Linn, is addressing the needs of audiophiles. However, we may soon be able to mod a Transporter to a true hi rez format. After that happens I suspect that the main-line manufacturers will wake up and offer complete products.

Dave

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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!

Just commenting on the Olive. Design-wise, the lines look appealing and clean but WHY did they have to put that techno-graffiti on top of the box?!? And it's just a litany of musical genres, written run-on: "punkgaragelatininternationalfolk." BIG mistake. Amateur night. Call me vain, but those things are important as these gears have to exist in rooms as furniture, and that graffiti alone will keep me away from it. Why couldn't Olive just keep it simple? The design is attractive, I think, on its own... should have just kept it monochromatic or duo (black/silver combo of some sort). Too much pizazz.

The design kind of has to do with to whom the Opus seems to be geared toward: squarely at the mainstream listeners who are looking to step up a bit, not the cutting edge audiophiles. I don't see anything wrong with that. It's a natural step up from Airport Express for these people, and I think it's a fantastic bridge product which might introduce a lot of people to high end audio. For many of these listeners, lossless and 16/44.1 are enough, and considering this demographic, 24/96 can qualify as future-proof. To be perfectly honest, I'm comfortable with that, too. I just want to be able to listen to Linn Records Studio FLACs. And besides, there are many DACs geared specifically toward audiophiles that can only process up to 48kHz, right? Like the near-$10K Accustic Arts Tube Dac II? So although I agree that the Olive doesn't seem to be aiming at the true audiophiles per se, I'd have to say that processing capacity shouldn't be the be-all-end-all criterion to determine whether a server/DAC is really FOR audiophiles or not. Personally, for me, 24/96 is enough for me b/c I'm not as demanding as professionals like Dave.

I like the fact that it can have 1 TB in the box, as well as be connected to NAS or network. Nice. The touchscreen menu looks totally cool, too - easy to read, lots of information. But can the storage be increased by replacing the hard drive or do you have to use USB HD? What DAC chip/structure does it use?

I'd say it's a tall order to catch up to Logitech, and I can just sniff those people cooking something up over there, maybe a new Transporter w/in a few months. And again: that graffiti on the top cover has got to go. Yuck.

CharlyD
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!

Yeah, I could do without the graffiti too. But, we sure do set a high bar for what can be considered "audiophile". The maximum sample rate for the renowned Transporter is also 96kHz, and it's priced at $2k with a much clunkier user interface. I have't seen any exhaustive listening tests, but I doubt that a difference could be heard between 96kHz and 192kHz sample rates with all other factors being held equal. It's much easier to accept that 24-bit recording is superior to 16-bit. It certainly would be nice if Olive published more detailed specs!

The user interface on the Olive boxes looks to be very clever and should find wide acceptance in the audiophile community. One of the most common complaints I've seen regarding computer audio in this forum is the lack of good cataloging/search tools.

dcstep
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!


Quote:
... Like the near-$10K Acoustic Arts Tube Dac II? So although I agree that the Olive doesn't seem to be aiming at the true audiophiles per se, I'd have to say that processing capacity shouldn't be the be-all-end-all criterion to determine whether a server/DAC is really FOR audiophiles or not. Personally, for me, 24/96 is enough for me b/c I'm not as demanding as professionals like Dave...

Yes, there are plenty of hi rez DACs but no real hi rez servers. I exclude that silly Linn thing were they threw 400-bucks of parts into a $100 billet aluminum case and charged $20k for it. The accountant in me won't let me overpay by that degree.

Dave

linden518
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!


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It certainly would be nice if Olive published more detailed specs!

Yup. Which leads cynical people like me to speculate that it isn't really geared toward audiophiles, that SQ-wise, it won't be up to the Transporter standards.


Quote:
The user interface on the Olive boxes looks to be very clever and should find wide acceptance in the audiophile community. One of the most common complaints I've seen regarding computer audio in this forum is the lack of good cataloging/search tools.


The Olive interface really does look clever! Just by looking at the pictures, I wanted to navigate through the screen, not run away from it. I think the reason those ridiculously overpriced servers like Sooloos, etc., can have a market is precisely that they have friendly cataloguing/search tools. Sure it can handle 24/192, blah blah blah, but I'd be surprised if it can best the Transporter SQ-wise by any convincing margin. But it scores on user-friendliness, the ease & elegance of interface/search function. It's a bit of that same ol' formula that turned Apple into a behemoth.

firedog
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!

Hi-

I wrote Olive yesterday and immediately got an answer from the CEO (yes, he publishes his email address and answers mail).

More tech info and a user manual will be published soon on the web site.

He didn't say this specifically, but apparently the unit is entirely new, and has a different processor, DAC chip and power supply than previous models.

The underlying software remains Linux based, except for the touch screen control, which is proprietary software.

Based on this, I'll assume it's like previous Olive products: the HD serial number is written into the permanent memory of the machine, and the unit checks the serial number in memory vs. the number of the HD actually installed before the full OS boots up. If they don't match, it won't boot up the OS. So the HD isn't user changeable.

However, for existing units there is a fairly simple hack that enables HD upgrades (I upgraded my 160 GB Olive Musica to a 500 GB hard drive.) My guess is that the same hack or something similar will work for the new units. I'm sure once the devices hit the market somenone will publish the appropriate hack online.

But with the size of the HD's built in (320 GB to 1 TB)there won't be much of a need to change HD's, other than possible HD failure.

As far as sound quality: I find the present Musica (aka Opus 3) to provide less than audiophile standard sound through the built in DAC and anlogue out. To me it sounds about like any standard consumer CD player, at least when played through an audiophile stereo system capable of revealing it's flaws.

As a result, I run the Musica thru an external DAC. In this configuration - as a CD Transport/digital music server only - it sounds very good. Comprable to the sound of CDs played through many "audiophile" CD decks, IMHO.

My guess is that the Opus 4 will sound better than the existing units, but still not satisfy "audiophiles". Apparently there is also an "audiophile" Opus 6 model to be released.

Then the question will be: is the Opus 6 worth the extra money? Or, is it more cost effective to buy an Opus 4 and and external DAC than to invest in the more expensive "audiophile" Opus 6? In my way of looking at things, (at least for anyone who already owns an external DAC that they like the sound of), there probably won't be any reason to invest the extra bucks in the Opus 6.

I don't think the Opus 4 is actually intended for audiophiles at all. The Opus 6 will probably be marketed as such, but if it is like the present Opus 5, I think it is more of an attempt to segment the market and sell a "higher end" product to people willing to put out cash for "the best"; and not to actually appeal to serious "audiophiles" - many of whom own their own DAC unit anyway and like to convert, edit, and generally play around with music files.

As such, I also don't think the Olive is intended to directly compete with the Transporter. It's aimed at users who want a stereo type component, and don't want to mess with a PC, file installation, or with converting CD's and music files.

I like my Olive unit b/c it gives me very convenient access to my entire music collection (and internet radio) without the need to even turn on my PC. I'm pretty sure this is the market Olive is targeting - mainstream users who may have pretty good music systems and want the convenience of a digital music library/server, but don't want to have anything to do with a PC and file conversion programs. The Olive accomplishes this fairly well - all you have to do is plug it in to a stereo system much like you do with a CD deck, and then insert your CD's. It pretty much does all the rest itself. Not to criticize the Transporter, but use of it is aimed at/requires more knowledge and/or willingness to do what many average users consider "geeky" computer tasks. The Olive is more of a "digital music library appliance".

Danny

dcstep
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!

Danny, thanks for the very informative update. The Opus 6 sounds more like what I'm looking for. Hopefully it'll be able to read a wide number of hi rez formats AND have a decent DAC onboard.

Dave

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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!

If this product is to appeal to the

CharlyD
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!


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I would think you need to be fairly
RGibran
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Re: Looks like Olive has a winner!

Thanks for the insights. I dug around the website some more and finally discovered the interactive demo about halfway down THIS page, in orange font titled "Check out how the interface works".

Very slick and the Nokia N800 can be had for as little as 200 bucks!

I'm thinking your correct Charly. This looks like a winner!

RG

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