Category Archives: Released in 2008

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.

Creative X-Fi Notebook

X-Fi Notebook Frankly this gadget was hard to fit into this blog but somehow it needs to be here. It is actually two devices. The X-Fi Notebook is a PCCARD soundcard with built-in wireless transmission using the other part of the equation; the Creative Wireless Receiver.

xfireceiver With the receiver it should be possible to transmit music to 4 discrete zones, each equipped with one. In other words: With a decent notebook, an X-Fi Notebook and sufficient receivers, you could build a multi-zone streamer fairly easily. The soundcard itself supports resolutions up to 24bit/48KHz and works pretty much as any other soundcard.

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.

Cambridge Audio DacMagic

DacMagic The Cambridge Audio DacMagic has existed for a couple of years but has now had a sort of re-debut at CEDIA in Denver. The new version kicks some serious situpon [you cannot imagine how thrilled I am to use that word] with not only three digital inputs [one of which is USB] and a digital out; but balanced outputs and full 24bit/192KHz resolution from two Wolfson DACs upscaled from a number of resolutions up to 24bit/96KHz. A nifty little device.

NuVo Music Port

NuVo Music Port The Nuvo Music port is not an audio device in its own right but an add-on for their large music systems such as NuVo Grand Concerto and NuVo Essentia E6G.

NuVo Controller The Music Port is a hardware interface that connects a PC to the system and lets it not only control the NuVo systems but also act as a source. It even lets you collect music from other network places and aggregate them in one playlist. A PC with two 5.1 surround sound cards can then serve 6 streams and truly be a part of a cool setup.

With their new wireless controller, they are getting pretty close to some of the core features of the Sonos system fusing it with those of a home automation system. The infinitely spiffy Sonos remote is far from being in jeopardy, though, nor do I expect it to be anytime soon.

Logitech Squeezebox Boom

Squeezebox Boom Adding to their Squeezebox line-up, Logitech has recently released their Squeezebox Boom. It uses the same technology as the Squeezebox Duet, in fact it can be controlled from the same remote and be a part of a system. Not entirely unlike the Sonos players that also come in a line-out unamplified version and one with a 50W power stage. The Squeezebox Boom just adds a pair of built-in speakers to make it an autonomous unit.

With specs like its sister device, sound quality is only limited to the quality of the amplifier and the miniscule speakers which, incidentally, sound incredibly good for their size. There is a 7-day alarm clock [with a built-in snooze button, no less] and automatic dimming of the display, making this perfect for a bedroom setup.

First impressions are that of a solid device. It is heavy and feels rather rugged in its rubbery front panel covering and shiny cabinet. Buttons operate smoothly and the remote, however small, feels good even in large hands and has quite a good reach. The display may seem old fashioned but the fact is that this type of Nixie-look-a-like display works very well in a dimly lit room, where color LCDs have a tendency to be overly bright. In addition to the ever present Squeezebox controls, the front panel offers 6 preset buttons that can be programmed directly from the device or from a Squeezebox Server using the KidsPlay plugin. Using this plugin gives you an almost unbelievable amount of programming options, such as (but all but limited to) choosing a random mix of tracks of a given genre while showing a brief message on the display as to which genre that is while clearing previous playlist selections. Nice, eh? In fact, it is difficult not to fiddle.

Should you need to, the Squeezebox Boom can be mounted in several positions with an optional L-bracket.

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.

Kupuk Zones

kupuk Those who own both a Sonos system and an iPhone or ipod Touch now have the option of controlling their Sonos system from not only the indeed very jazzy Sonos controller but from their phone as well.

Specializing in making software for the iPhone, Kupuk has done a very nice job of making this a slick interface. The program identifies Sonos zones and lets you control each individually. It doesn’t mirror the Sonos controller but is an interesting addition. The application can be found at the Apple iPhone App Store.

Avoca VIP Music Edition

Avoca The Avoca VIP Music Edition sports some pretty nice specs in a pretty case accompanied by a slightly less pretty PDA based controller. The media center rips CDs to Flac onto an internal disk, optionally mirrored, and serves files at up to 24bit/192KHz resolution depending on your choice of output, although it appears to support only 96KHz sampling rates, possibly upscaling from there. Could be a spec glitch, though.

One of the more curious aspects of the Avoca is the controller. You get to point and click your way through your music selection but that is not all; you can actually talk to your music system. Now how about that? “Hey! Turn down that racket, son! – Can’t hardly hear myself think!”… and sonny boy can rebel all he likes.

The Cullen Sonos mod

Reclocker Behind the curious title, lies the modification of the jitter in the original device by replacing the clock circuit and adding buffering. Reportedly this mod, which roughly doubles the price of your Sonos Zone Player, reduces jitter dramatically and makes the player a perfect source for a high-end DAC, effectively combining a WAF* bordering on the unbelievable with audiophile geekiness.

Incidentally; the company is not affiliated with Sonos despite its name-likeness with Sonos founder Thomas Cullen.

*An apparently misspelled acronym reading: Spouse Acceptance Factor.

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