|Escient Fireball SE-80 Music Server|
|Home Theater Media Servers Music Servers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Wednesday, 01 February 2006|
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Recognizing that the SE-80 is designed as the entry-level Escient and as such has defined limits to its capabilities, it is hard to complain about the SE-80’s performance within its limits. Its lack of FLAC encoding and coaxial digital output may prohibit the user from getting the best possible sound quality, but if that’s what you are after, you should probably choose a model with higher capacity to store the larger files anyway.
The one thing that I would have liked to have seen included would have been a front panel display. As it is currently configured, the SE-80 needs an outboard video display in order to navigate the menus and select music. This precludes the SE-80 from use in systems that do not have a video display available. I also understand that compromises have to be made in order to meet this slip price point, but not everyone wants to use an onscreen menu every time they want to spin some songs.
The SE-80 thankfully brings many of the benefits of the E2 line into a unit that is a fraction of the price. This newest and cheapest music server from Escient does a commendable job as an MP3 server. If your system has a display available and you do not need the step-up features of the E2 series, I highly recommend that you check out the SE-80. Even if your needs grow in the future and you end up buying an E2 later on, you can still use the SE-80 as a zone player, rather than having an obsolete box. Overall, the SE-80 is a solid product poised perfectly to introduce anyone to the joyous world of music servers.