|ReQuest Fusion Pro 250 Music Server|
|Home Theater Media Servers Music Servers|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Saturday, 01 January 2005|
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In order to link to your server to use your ReQuest Manager application, you need to have your PC or Mac connected to the Internet via the IP address assigned to your ReQuest server likely by your modem or router. This begs an interesting question – why couldn’t you link to your ReQuest server from your office or your hotel room when on the road? Well, I do and you can, too. One of the most important features of the ReQuest Fusion 250 is that it allows you to link to your server at home and hook up a pair of XHiFi XDC-1 high-end desktop speakers ($999 per pair) to your computer, which will put you in business. You can listen to your entire music collection while you work, which to me adds tremendous value to the ReQuest system.
Hardcore audiophiles are going to hurl when they read this, but adding a little compression to the files wasn’t that bad. You could definitely hear the effect if you have a trained ear. If you are treating your ReQuest server as a replacement for your CDs, not as a musical convenience, then you will want to pop for a big hard drive and stay uncompressed for as many discs as you see fit. This is obviously easier and less expensive with smaller collections. Lower compression formats and especially MP3s that you may have collected from impure locations tend to sound lousy. I am not even going to waste the virtual ink trying to tell you MP3s sound good at all. They simply don’t and I don’t recommend you rip too many albums at that level. For your iPod, MP3s or AAC files are fine but at home – even through some in-wall speakers in your laundry room – they aren’t good enough for the trained and experienced listener.
On “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” by Isaac Hayes (Stax Records), the organ had more heft and gravitas to it uncompressed. The bell of the cymbal lost its three-dimensionality when compressed, but the effect was pretty much localized on the high-frequency range. A lot of my listening to my ReQuest happens while I am cooking in the kitchen, which is located close to my listening room. The high-frequency maladies are less noticeable when you are off axis. In a serious listening session, you might reach for the CD. In the event that you feel one disc deserves better treatment, you can always re-rip it to your drive uncompressed.
On Skid Row’s “Piece of Me” (Atlantic) from their debut album, the bass on the slightly compressed version has surprisingly good energy and life to it. The snare, on the other hand, sounded thin and brittle. The highs during critical listening were etchy, like what you heard from the early versions of CDs. At higher volumes, the bass held up, but it didn’t help open up or smooth out the high frequencies too much.
On AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” (ATCO), the ringing bell sounded pretty solid and three-dimensional with some compression. The guitars, which seem to be low enough in the frequency range to avoid the high-end problems described earlier, kept their sheen and depth nicely. At very high levels, the one-eighth-note bass line held its own, sounding tight and round. The cymbals and snare are where you can hear the effect of the compression.
On “Girl Gone Bad,” an epic jam from Van Halen’s inspirational 1984 album (Warner), Alex Van Halen’s ticking on the bell of his cymbal was hard to accept for someone who knows and loves each and every nuance of the record. With the volume sky high, you could hear the soundstage collapse slightly. This would only be of interest to you if you have parked your fine ass in front of your main speakers for a get down-and-dirty audiophile listening session. If you had your Kramer guitar strapped on and your vintage Marshall amp dimmed down to Eddie’s famous “brown sound,” you would be fine. Same with the idea of pumping these songs throughout your house – the sonic differences I noted are small and get lost in less than critical listening situations.
Listening to the ReQuest Fusion 250 really became valuable with my own playlists. I can come home from work and, in a matter of seconds, set a mood, including lighting, allowing me to leave the stress of a day’s work behind. With a distributed audio system, this feat is possible in darn near every room of your house, making it easy to see the value of having your entire music collection available on a touch screen controller installed in your den or bedroom.