|Olive Opus No4 Music Server Review|
|Home Theater Media Servers Music Servers|
|Written by Todd Whitesel|
|Friday, 23 October 2009|
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Although the CD info came through on some rather obscure recordings such as Nic Jones' Penguin Eggs and Focus' Hamburger Concerto, it was far from perfect. I'd estimate that 20 percent of the discs I tried to load came up empty in regards to album info. Inputting this information with the touchscreen's keyboard is an option but not one I'd likely entertain for more than a handful of discs.
A USB port makes it easy to backup the data on the Opus' drive to an external hard drive. I didn't try this, but the owner's manual suggests the process can take several hours – time well spent, though, to protect your music library. You can also transfer music stored on a computer directly to the Opus via the USB port by dragging and dropping files.
I was recently in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and while driving around the city I tuned into the local classic rock FM station. Beyond the Steve Miller and Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes that every rock station has played to death were a handful of songs that I had never heard before. The station placed a heavy emphasis on Canadian artists and broadcast several tunes that I wanted to know more about. Unfortunately, my timing was off and I either missed or there was no back-announcing of tracks. It was a drag hearing music that I would have likely purchased but couldn't get artist info. That's not a problem, though, with Internet radio and another reason for keeping the Opus 4 turned on. Unlike subscription-based satellite radio services such as Sirius or XM, the Opus 4 can connect to thousands of commercial-free digital radio stations without charge.
The choices are practically endless and adding a new station is as easy as typing in the URL. You can browse by Public & Info Stations for college, community, public, sports and talk radio. Tune into stations by region for broadcasts from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, China, France, India, Japan, Russia, Spain and beyond. Or, find music by genre including 50s-90s, bluegrass, blues, classical, folk, jazz, lounge and many more, each selection opening a new window and presenting dozens of individual streams. I'm a huge fan of Celtic music, so I dabbled with the different stations under that umbrella. Within 10 minutes I found a song that I had never heard and really liked, but unlike my Thunder Bay experience or analog tuners in general, the artist and track information was displayed before me. I recognized the artist – fiddler Ashley MacIsaac – but not the tune - “Sleepy Maggie.” I was hooked. It's a great way to explore and discover new music, and the sound quality is excellent. If you like surfing the Web for Internet radio, you'll love the Opus 4.
The Opus 4 comes ready for wireless (802.11g) and wired (Gigabit Ethernet) connectivity. It also , and supports WEP and WPA encryption (up to 128-bit). Olive makes a companion product called the Melody 2 Hi-Fi Multi-Room player, which when used in conjunction with the Opus 4 enables users to stream music wirelessly to 10 different Melodys. Not only that, each Melody can play a different song. So if you have a handful of the players throughout the house, the Opus 4 can serve as a master music library, letting you listen to Mozart in the office, Metallica in the living room and Marvin Gaye in the bedroom.
Tucked inside the Opus 4 is a high-resolution DAC that's a pretty good performer. To get the best from the Opus 4, I recommend connecting it to a quality amp or receiver, and certainly to good speakers. Like a better CD player, the Opus 4 will expose a poorly recorded CD just as it will let an expertly recorded disc's sound shine through. I really like the unit's quiet operation, having a ton of tunes at my fingertips and a display that shows me what's happening. It's easy, fun and as one of my friend's said, “That thing is cool as Sh..” Well, I don't think Olive will use that line in its ad campaign, but, yes, it's cool. Extremely cool.