This is most likely my last post here. I share my tale as a warning for those who come after me seeking the path to digital music nirvana.
Last year I started looking for a way to move as painlessly as possible from my cds to digital. Never having been an itunes user, nor much of an mp3 guy, I was leering of incorporating my pc at all. This is what initially attracted me to the Olive--a standalone component that did the dirty work of ripping, tagging and storing my cds with an interface that didn't require a pc or a separate monitor with remote to operate. I purchased the Opus 4 last spring and got busy (despite the warning from many of you here I might add) feeding my collection into the maw of the beast. Never really thought much about the whole "getting the music back thing." Didn't really yet know the complications with ripping nor even the existence of AccurateRip.
All was good. The Iphone app came out and I got an Itouch at the holidays specifically for this reason. Going from shuffling through cds, taking out and putting away jewel cases to the freedom of the Olive with everything at my fingertips from any room with the iphone app was a revelation. Sure, there were quirks. The screen on the Olive would lock up. I spent nights and nights correcting album art and metadata. If I had used the iphone app in one room and then wandered to the living room where the olive was, it took a minute or two to take control over the unit. The pc interface was always abysmal. Etc, etc, the glitches and problems have been well documented here. Thing is, I always kind of accepted it: I was so overwhelmed with how much better it was then my old way of listening that I chalked it up to the hiccups of fledgling technology.
This summer my drive stopped reading cds intermittently. It started with a few--now it won't read even a pristine cd. I became more aware and concerned with "getting the music back" and started burning everything I didn't have a hard copy of. About 10 discs in, my burner stopped working (I assume mostly because it couldn't even read the blank cd). Throughout all this, the iphone app broke down, I was told it would be fixed about 3 months before it was, 5 requests of mine to Olive to put me on their email list went unfulfilled (I still have yet to received one damn email from them--and yes, I've checked my spam) and was told I'd have to pay shipping to send my barely over a year old unit back for repair.
Meanwhile, I started reading about squeezebox, sonos, etc. Since my drive died, I'd discovered EAC and then dbpoweramp and was loading the Olive through my pc. It occurred to me that after feeding the Olive to an external DAC (which I'd been doing since last fall) I was basically already there. I had an $1,800 NAS + player with buggy software that was useless without my PC. One day, when my Olive did it's randomly stop playing mid-song several times a day thing, I ordered a Sonos and controller on a frustrated impulse. I'll just try it out, I said, just this once. Just until Olive fixes the iphone app. I could always return it right?
Holy F'in Hell!
It was like emerging from Plato's cave.
You know how the Olive just sometimes doesn't work? The Sonos does.
You know how the Olive touch screen freezes? The Sonos doesn't.
You know how you can only use one interface at a time with Olive? You can use the Sonos iphone app, the controller, the pc controller (which is a true fully functional controller) all simultaneously and they respond almost instantly.
You know how you can't get your music back from the Olive? Obviously not a problem with the Sonos.
You know how the Olive costs, what, now $2,500 for the 4HD? I got a Sonos and controller for $550. I plan to add a 2 TB NAS for around $200. That's $750! And I'll still be using the external DAC I'm using now, so there should be no (or minimal) difference in sound (and no, I cannot hear a difference)
You know how Olive's radio is a mishmash of hit or miss Shoutcast stuff? Sonos has Pandora, Iheart, Last.fm, local stations, sirius etc. etc.
You know how Imaestro is worthless as a controller? Well, you know.
And yes, I've since downloaded and tried the new iphone app. It is much better. The sonos app still blows it away for speed, functionality and reliability. I mean, really, I can't select All Tracks and shuffle from the app and get more than one albums worth of tracks?
Listen, this is not a Sonos ad here. You could substitute Squeezebox, Sooloos, an Airport Express, whatever. My point here is that I was astounded at the difference in software quality. Going from cds to the olive was a revelation--going from the Olive to the Sonos was another. Someone here compared the Olive to the work of a child in that regard--I would agree completely. And I was an apologist in the beginning. I shrugged off problems, things seemed like they were being addressed, fixed, albeit slowly.
So I suppose the overarching point is this: the Olive could/should/might/but probably never will be so so so much better. It just seems to me now that they don't have the resources, man-power, know-how, whatever, to do it. (and with that, I'm sure I'll never be getting that email)
Also: I don't mean to offend anyone here who's happy with their Olives, nor flaunt my new-found digital music freedom--I just want to add my story to the litany of Olive woe here. Maybe it will help someone else. My penalty: an $1,800 fine and a sentence of reripping my entire collection yet again. As for the Olive, I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Maybe it can be a second player in some room (though of course, as you'd expect, I've had no luck yet getting it connected wirelessly--and how else can I add music?). Maybe I can sell it (though who wants a unit with a busted drive?).
Anyway, that's all.
Thanks for those who've helped along the way and best to all of you in your efforts to Save the Music.