|Escient Fireball SE-80 Music Server|
|Home Theater Media Servers Music Servers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Wednesday, 01 February 2006|
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Escient’s Fireball SE-80 is their latest entry-level music server offering. The SE-80 features an 80 GB hard drive, as well as an internal CD-RW drive, which can be used to load music onto the hard drive, create music discs from the music stored on the hard drive or as a CD player. Like the E2 and other Fireball units, the SE-80 also has a built in Internet radio receiver, file sharing and web server capabilities, all for the slim price of $995.
The SE chassis and industrial design is consistent with the rest of the Escient family and measures 17-3/8 inches wide by four-and-five-eighths inches high and 11-7/8 inches deep. The chassis is finished in the same attractive brushed black aluminum as the E2 and other Fireballs. The front panel features a curved accent stripe, an oval CD drawer and a row of transport control buttons.
The back panel of the SE is quite simple and barren when compared to Escient’s media controller products and features only the necessities, including video outputs, stereo analog output, digital audio output, an Ethernet port and an IR input. This differs from the other Escient units, as it does not have RS-232 ports or audio inputs.
While the SE is designed to be the entry-level Escient music server, it still has plenty of features. The SE series shares many of the features of the E2 series previously reviewed here on AVRev.com. The main differences between the SE reviewed here and the E2’s are the SE’s lack of front panel display, Toslink digital output, audio inputs, external media control, serial control and a FLAC encoder. The SE is still capable of storing hundreds of hours of music, automatic CD identification, burning custom discs, multiple zone support, Internet radio and more.
The primary purpose of the SE is that it allows the user to easily access music stored on the internal 80 GB drive. The user can choose to convert music into MP3 audio files, ranging in quality from 128 kb/s to 320 kb/s. The SE-80 can hold 536 hours of music recorded in the MP3 format of 320 kb/s and up to 1340 hours when the bitrate is lowered to 128 kb/s.
I easily connected the SE-80 to my reference stereo system via its analog outputs. The video output of the Escient was connected directly to my television monitor. The last connections were an Ethernet cable to a switch on my home network and, finally, power. With all the physical connections made, I powered up the unit and followed the graphic onscreen menus, which were quite easy to navigate.
The SE-80 had no problems setting itself up on my network. Having the SE-80 on my home computer network not only allows it to connect to the Gracenote CDDB database to look up each disc as it is inserted, but also to share files with other Escient devices on the network, as well as computers and portable MP3 players. The Escient products have a built-in peer to peer networking capability, which allowed me to access the music stored on my Escient E2 through the SE-80. When the SE-80 is connected to the Internet, it will also function as an Internet radio server.