Category Archives: CD

Geneva Labs AeroSphère

areospherebase01For those who have the rooms to suit a bit of soft, round fluffiness, Geneva Labs, known for their cubistic iPhone docks, have a streaming audio setup slightly out of the ordinary and certainly not a cubistic one. The system consists of an optional base station that receives FM and DAB radio as well as plays audio CDs, and two sizes of speakers, which placed on their polished steel stands, look quite the piece.areospherelred_b All components are nicely rounded and might as well be leftover props of Lost in Space. The speakers on their own will play AirTunes, Bluetooth audio and DLNA streams. When connected to a base station, it will play audio from there as well. The base station will feed up to 4 speakers, Platini the same ting simultanously. The output effect is not mentioned. Both speakers and base station have a line input for analogue sources. Unfortunately the base station isn’t capable of acting as a DLNA server. Otherwise it would have been a nifty add-on to many streaming systems that don’t have a CD player.

Olive O6HD

o6hd_silver_front_angleOlive has been on the media streamer market for the better part of the market’s existence, yet hasn’t made much noise. Their latest initiative could be here to change that: The world’s first HD Audiophile Server. That is what they call it and looking at the specs, it’s definitely the world’s first something, even if others have touched on this before. The Linn DS is definitely up there (with a slightly more rabid price tag) and so is the NaimUniti Serve. The latter being a really attractive setup in its family configuration of server, players and mini players.

The device itself is cool if not exactly novel. The design is like other Olives, slightly unusual and definitely not very shelf-friendly.  The slanted cabinet has a touch screen on top and a handful of heavy duty connectors on the back. The front has a slot for ripping CDs. To get you going, the O6HD comes pre-installed with 12 HD tracks from Chesky records. Hand-built in America and all, it will look good on a serving table or something.

The power supply is split into two, to feed analog and digital circuits with each their own chill filtered juice. The DACs are 24-bit Burr-Brown PCM1792 supporting high resolution conversion of 24-bit/192KHz. It comes with 2TB of storage, letting you rip quite a bit of CDs, at least in 16-bit resolution. At full resolution it is not one byte too much. Unfortunately the CD transport is just that. A CD drive. It doesn’t support DVD or SACD so the only option for actually getting any HD content is to rip it elsewhere or download HD tracks.

A rather cool feature is genre specific tags. Only information pertaining to the specific type of music is shown in the genre navigation. That is really good news for classical music connoisseurs. Add to that a bit of color coding and a bloody nice glass touch screen, and you have a pretty nifty dashboard. The ever present iPhone / iPod Touch remote isn’t missing either.

Naim UnitiServe

UnitiServeWith the UnitiServe, British Naim completes their Unity system. The UnitiServe is a Windows XP Embedded based media server with a built in Red Book CD drive. The server supports a multitude of audio formats, including Flac at a resolution of up to 24bit/192KHz. The innards include parts from equally cool British lads, Digital Fidelity.

The main idea, of course, is for the UnitiServe to act as a server for multitude of NaimUniti and UnitiQute clients already casually spread across your house. It supports streaming unique content to 6 simultaneous receivers. But being a full fledged DLNA server, it will do the biddings of any compliant device on your home network.

The UnitiServe comes with 1TB of disk space or, if you so prefer, with only a 16GB SSD disk, requiring a NAS for its data.

UnitiSystem

Sony NAS-Z200iR and CMT-Z100iR

Sony CMT-Z100iR Now we are back to some bona fide digital news. Sony just announced a new system consisting of a media streaming apparatus called NAS-Z200iR. As to why Sony have chosen to use the term NAS in the name is a bit of a conundrum, since the device does in fact not have any storage to share. What it will do, however, is receive music from a DLNA compatible server (meaning pretty much everything), host an iPod in a docking station or play a CD. It even has an old fashioned AM/FM radio for when the internet radio stations are not enough. How about that?

On a curious note aside, the NAS lets you control an iPod from a wireless remote roughly twice the size of an iPod Touch. I know, I know. You get speakers and amps and stuff. But still. If you look past all that.

At the same time Sony announced another device called CMT-Z100iR. It looks roughly like the big sister NAS, but instead of having everything remote controlled, controls are mounted on the base of the iPod dock. This one comes in white as well. Pretty cool looking too.

Specs have not been revealed yet for either device. Can’t be long, though.

NaimUniti

Naim have always been associated with extreme high end and baffled the world not long ago when they extended their product line to Bentley in-car hifi with KW-fed 11 speaker extravaganza and a price tag to fit the car. Well, none of that. Now Naim went out and did an all-in-one package for the home sporting some rather nice specs and a compactness leaving little else to be desired.

Naim Uniti The NaimUniti is a 50W integrated FM/DAB receiver with built-in CD transport and internet connectivity. It accepts USB devices, controls an iPod, reads CD-R discs and streams music from the network, including internet radio stations. Ogg Vorbis and Flac are supported as is Apple Lossless. On the input side there are 5 digital and 4 analogue. The latter including one specifically for the Naim Stageline phono stage for all that vinyl screaming for attention and so often forgotten in other solutions.

PS Audio PerfectWave Transport Memory Player

psaudio PS Audio are the people who gave us internet attached power conditioning so it is no surprise that they are the first to unveil a HRx capable player [almost like being a fax machine pioneer]. As so many other things on this blog it really doesn’t belong here, but it has one redeeming feature making it somehow fit in rather snuggly: It rips, stores and plays, and it connects to the internet.

First the old stuff. The perfectWave Transport rips the CD using the venerable Exact Audio Copy and stores it internally. Then the data is read back and played. This should eliminate timing related jitter by ways of simple buffering. While this idea itself is pretty obvious it wasn’t until Genesis released their Digital Lens in the mid-nineties it started to cost money acquired its flock of followers. Add to this a vendor driven service for downloading album artwork and song lyrics, more or less aptly buzzing it as cloud computing, you have a quite interesting CD transport.

Now the new stuff. The new player now supports the HRx formatted media. Not in itself an audio standard but simply a DVD with WAV files on it at a resolution of 24bit at 176.4KHz.

Kaleidescape 1U Server & Music Player

Kaleidescape In itself the 1U Server seems fairly uninteresting but with the Kaleidescape Music Player in the mix it immediately turns into a hefty competitor in the media server market – even if it may appear somewhat uneconomical [diplomatically speaking].

The server comes in two versions. The 1U has 1TB of storage which can be extended to 4TB through modular drive bays. The 3U also starts with 1TB but can be extended to a stunning 12TB. The really stunning part comes when you start clustering the servers in which case you reach a mindboggling 100TB of music and/or DVD storage. Now – let us assume that a CD contains 700MB of data [which, believe my, is a very high assumption] and you divide that into 100TB, you end up with 150,000 CDs. If the Kaleidescape servers didn’t already drain your bank accounts, the CD purchases might.

The server can cover 45 discrete zones and perform up to 4 simultaneous rips. The Kaleidescape Music Player is one of your options for those zones as well as a number of full HD video components. The Music Player itself can handle 4 discrete zones at a resolution of up to 24bit/192KHz and sports a CD/DVD drive in its sleek exterior.

Crestron ADMS

ADMS Someone at Crestron has nimbly avoided being called narrow minded for quite some time to come, hacking together this truly massive beast of features galore. Okay, it serves media; not just music but video as well. Video from DVD or Blu-ray as well as downloaded rentals. All this in full HD and 7.1 surround sound into 3 zones. Sound is served in a resolution of up to 24bit/96KHz and practically all formats known to man have been squeezed in.

Like all things Crestron, the ADMS can be operated from their control panels that also operate their home automation systems. The ADMS supports up to 1TB of RAID storage as well as NAS. It has Firewire, USB, S/PDIF, MMC and HDMI on the digital side of things, and a bunch of analogue ins and outs. All in an everything but discrete package.

McIntosh MCD500

MCD500 It’s been a year since McIntosh introduced their larger than life [literally] music server MS750 with specs that would boggle anyone’s mind and rich with novel ideas. On such novelty was the ability to stream an analogue source through a high end A/D converter. Now McIntosh shows off again releasing a new SACD player, not really belonging on this blog. One cool things about the MCD500 that brings it in accord of this blog, however, is a number of digital inputs that allow you to use the McIntosh’s 24bit/192KHz quad balanced DAC for other digital devices. With an attenuated output, balanced from 0-6V or unbalanced from 0-12V, it is even perfectly capable of driving an end stage. In other words a pre-amplifier with a built-in DAC. The SACD transport simply thrown in free of charge for good measure. What else could you ask for? The money you save [there’s an oxymoron for you] can be well invested in a pretty wood cabinet that muffles the trademark McIntosh smack-dab-in-your-face exterior.

Qsonix Q110 Digital Music Management System


Qsonix Q110

Behind a very long name lies a sleek, if somewhat conservative looking music server split in two – a desktop chassis with a CD-drive and a 15” or 17” touch screen. It supports 4 distinct zones that can be controlled separately, either from the touch screen or from a 3rd party remote [presumably via uPnP]. The server comes in 4 flavours from 250GB to 1.5TB. Files can be stored in lossless format and there is a digital output for attaching an external DAC at a resolution of up to 24bit/192KHz.

From the more unusual side of the feature set, we find not only CD burning but downscaling for iPod playlists and direct purchasing and download from Music Giants at full resolution. Not to mention the ability to play 1-second samples of arbitrary songs without interrupting whatever else is playing [except, of course, for the played sound sample].

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