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Olive 06HD Music Server Review Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Article Index
Olive 06HD Music Server Review
Set Up, Listening, and Conclusion

Set Up & Listening:

Setting up the Olive was not difficult. The only “tweaks” I used were a high quality Transparent AC cord, Symposium Acoustics Roller Block Jr isolation devices and, for the hell of it, a Shakti Stone.  The 06HD connects to home network via WiFi or Ethernet, but I chose Ethernet. Once connected, I transferred about 80 GB of ripped CDs and downloads. I also ripped dozens of CDs, via the slot loading TEAC CD-RW drive. The whole process was flawless. I was then able to navigate artists, albums, songs, genres etc via the large touch screen or the supplied chunky remote control. One can also control the Olive via a web browser or the ubiquitous iPad or iPod Touch with a downloadable app.  You can also connect a monitor via the HDMI output.  This kind of flexibility is pretty impressive. As a last set up note, errors in metadata can be corrected via a web interface.

I spent quite a bit of time in long listening sessions with the 06HD.  The music flowed gracefully, and there was not a hint of brightness, edge, or glare. Nor was there a smearing of transients, loss of detail, or a lack of resolution. On the contrary, I have not heard a one box digital playback device that could trump the 06HD on sonics.  The Bryston BDP-1 shared many of the same sonic characteristics, with low distortion, and a natural flow to the music.  However, the Bryston is part of a more complicated, multi box system.  Ergonomically, the Olive is the cleanest server solution I have seen, except for perhaps the far more expensive Meridian Sooloos system which, incidentally, offers far fewer features.

I loaded the 06HD with a quite a variety of music. I listened to everything to high rez classical jazz, and vocal music, to recent rock releases from Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter, John Hiatt, Robert Plant, and R.E.M. Everything sounded amazing, with spacious soundstages, clean, extended highs, and solid, and articulate bass. I noted how consistent the 06HD’s performance was across all genres and sources.

On various tracks from Ultimate Hits, Johnny Mathis’s voice sounded rich and buttery, and on tracks from Ocean Of Confusion, a best of compilation by the Screaming Trees, the guitars chugged along relentlessly, the drums thundered, and Mark Lanegan’s Jim Morrison inflected voice was huge. Music streamed via my network also sounded amazing.  After I downloaded Twonky, a UPnP server software, I was able to access files housed on various hard drives attached to my computer. Everything I sourced, whether ripped Redbook CDs, downloaded Hi Rez material, or streamed files, sounded superb.

Olive 06HD back panel

If one word could crystallize my experiences with the Olive 06HD, it would be elegance. Elegance in the ergonomics and sonics. I really enjoyed interfacing with the 06HD and operation was as smooth as could be. The slot loading drive worked beautifully, and I am generally not a huge fan of slot loaders. Ripping CDs seemed to take less time than I remembered with the 04HD, and even quicker than an iTunes rip with error correction.  File access was immediate, and the unit responded to touch screen and remote commands without delay. One more thing I should mention is that Olive provides a very popular ripping service, at a reasonable cost, for those with larger collections who don’t have the patience to manually load the 06HD.  

I think the Olive 06HD is a perfect solution for those seeking a no compromise, elegant music server solution, with top quality parts, a beautifully engineered interface, in an attractive package that would be welcomed in any listening room. The prospective buyer of an Olive product would obviously have no patience for mucking around with a computer, software, and a slew of other outboard boxes and cables. $4999 is certainly not cheap these days, but rest assured you are getting a superbly crafted device, along with Olive’s excellent customer service and support.  I visited Olive’s facility in San Francisco early this year and I was impressed with their attention to detail, and the dedication of their employees in every department. Look for an upcoming factory tour feature.  I can conclude by saying that anyone who invests in an Olive 06HD will be thrilled with their purchase.


Olive 06HD Music Server
MSRP: $4999

●    Anodized fine-grade aluminum shell
●    Passive cooling without noisy fan
●    Ultra-quiet operations

●    Width 17.125"
●    Height 4.5" (at highest point)
●    Depth 14"
●    Weight 16.5 lb

●    Silver or Black

Box also includes
●    User manual, Remote control with battery
●    w/ battery, WiFi-antenna, Power cord

Olive Media Inc .
555 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
Phone: 1.877.296.5483
For International Callers: 415.908.3870

Review System 1

Cd Player: Naim CD5 XS with Flatcap 2X,
Server: Squeezebox Touch, Bryston BDP-1
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4
Cables: DH Labs Revelation (IC), Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC),  Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Element Cable Element Cord, (AC)  Shunyata Venom (AC) Pangea AC-9 (AC) Audience powerChord e.(AC)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands,  Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner, Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Salamander rack

Review System 2

Cd Player: Marantz 5003, Audiolab 8200CD
Music Server: Squeezebox 3
DAC: CIA VDA-2 with VAC-1 Power Supply
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Preamp: Belles Soloist 3
Amplifier: Belles Soloist 5, Revox A722
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio, Pangea Audio (AC), RS Cables, Element Cable

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