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Escient Tunebase 2000i Music Server Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 February 2000
Image If managing your CDs has gotten out of hand, as jewel cases both empty and full are found lying all around your room, the Escient Tunebase 2000i CD Library Management System is a welcome solution. In addition to the Tunebase 2000i controller, the Escient system can control up to three 200-disc CD changers, for a total of 600 CDs. The basic system with the controller and one Sony CDP-CX220 changer runs $3,000.

Unlike previous CD management systems, it's not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars to program song titles and artwork from your CD collection into the system. First off, the Tunebase2000i is delivered with text and artwork for 2,500 popular CDs. If a CD is inserted into the changer that is not recognized by the system, it calls (via the built-in modem) Escient's main library to download the appropriate data. The Tunebase2000i allows users a variety of ways to play back CD's, using a flexible and easy navigation interface that runs on any TV or video monitoring system. Installation
Installing the Tunebase2000i is only slightly more complex than adding any other component to your system. The Sony CD changer that was part of the evaluation system offered both analog and optical outputs for interfacing with your receiver or preamp. (No coax output is found on this particular changer.) The Tunebase2000i controller is essentially a CPU loaded with Escient's proprietary management software. (Escient is also responsible for the software program that controls Runco's DVD management system.) Using either the coax or S-Video connection, the output is fed to one of the video inputs on a receiver or preamp. A simple connection between the controller and the changer is required using the supplied interface cable. The final connection requires a nearby phone jack so that the Tunebase2000i's built-in modem can access the main library via an Internet connection. A wireless keyboard is provided for navigation and manual editing of data. Basic navigation functions can be programmed into any universal remote after the initial setup.

While a conventional CD has plenty of storage space the only data (besides the musical information) encoded onto a disc is the number of tracks and the time of each track. In order for the Escient system to provide titles and front cover artwork whenever a particular CD is played, information from the Tunebase2000i's factory-installed database or the constantly updated library located in Indianapolis is required. In the event that your CD is really obscure, the song titles can be manually entered. Even a music style is assigned based on what's found in the database. A second category can be assigned for cross-referencing in multiple categories. A serial port is provided for attaching a scanner so that cover artwork can be inserted.

Four basic operations are provided by Escient's programming - single play, random, five disc and jukebox. In single play, just choose a CD and hit play. You can scroll through your library and choose another disc at any time. In random, the Escient system will start playing tracks randomly from your complete library. If you prefer, it can be set up to only randomly play from certain music styles, such as jazz or pop. In the five disc mode, first you choose the preferred discs, then set up whether you want each played sequentially or in a random fashion. Jukebox allows the user to create a song list, without any time limit, from any number of discs. The song lists can be saved for playback at any time.

The Downside
As this is a two-piece system, space requirements are an important factor. Between the changer and the Tunebase2000i, an additional 12 inches or more will be needed in your rack or cabinet. If you remove CDs a lot, say, for your car, this can be a bit of a hassle. You can either open the door of the changer and turn the carousel until you find the disc you want to remove, or you can choose the disc via the Escient's graphical user interface. Once chosen, the disc appears up front when the door opens. The good news is that it's not necessary to remember what slot the CD was removed from. Every time the Escient system is turned on, it will re-check the discs and make any necessary adjustments.

While dealer support is available, I found the system remarkably simple to set up and operate with a graphical user interface that is totally intuitive. Before your CD library reaches critical mass, check out the advantages of an Escient system. If the storage and instant playback of 600 CDs is insufficient for your personal needs, Escient has more powerful systems for consideration. Entire libraries can be loaded into this system, and you'll never have to deal with jewel cases or storage boxes again. Imagine leaving all your CDs right in the player for instant access whenever you choose.

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