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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just saw the announcement today about the new products from Olive Media Products, the Symphony and the Sonata. Check them out at http://www.olive.us .


Has anybody heard of these people? As a classical music lover and listener, I have been continually frustrated with the limitations of existing tagging capabilities in hardware and software for classical music. These people, if you read their literature, have solved it.


And...it's all about lossless (FLAC).


Comments welcome from anyone having experienced this!
 

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The idea is an interesting one. It's certainly a good way to differentiate themselves and address a market segment that doesn't get a lot of attention in the digital realm. The HDD is small especially if they focus on audiophiles who would most likely want to record in a lossless format. However, it can stream from an external computer so you're not limited to just that 80GB. The free CD loading is a nice touch and definitely will appeal to individuals who don't want to bother with doing that legwork themselves.


Really, as long as the classical metadata info is accurate, it should work as advertised. The only thing that isn't clear is how much of that extra ID3 tag info is available on the hardware units. Seemingly, it would be nice to not just be able to display it when playing back a piece, but also search by all of those fields right from the Symphony. If you were only able to search using these fields on the Playlist software, it's usefulness is more limited. I also wonder if the Playlist software can control the hardware remotely.
 

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By the way, I sent an e-mail to the Olive folks with some questions about specific funtionality including whether you can search by those classical tag fields right from the Symphony. I'll post their replies when I hear back.


Jeff
 

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I just received an e-mail from Olive with answers to my questions. Here they are (the italicized text is their response:


- It appears that the Playlist software is not yet available for

download (the link doesn't work). Any idea when it should be?

unfortunately I don't know yet, probably around the shipping date mid of August.


- Will users be able to search by any of the additional Classical

metadata fields in the Playlist software? Will these same fields be

available to search by on the Symphony?

you can search all fields in the playlist software and the information is displayed on the LCD of the symphony. You cannot search by these fields on the Symphony (yet).


- Can you control (play, pause, skip, create playlists, volume, etc) the

Symphony and Sonata hardware remotely using the Playlist software?

this feature is not implemented yet. You can control it via iTunes

though.



- How do you control multiple zones (Symphony + multiple Sonatas)?

Can you control all zones right from the Symphony?

right now you can only control the music in each room separately (with

the same remote control though). a central control feature is in the

works.



If so, can you remotely control

output volume of the Sonatas from the Symphony?

- Can zones be grouped together or is it simply one zone individually

or allzones at once?

please see above


- How many Sonatas can the Symphony stream to simultaneously?

up to 5 Sonatas


- What's the association you folks have with the hifidelio product

that has been out in Germany for a while now?

it is a joint venture between the 2 companies. The Playlist and Sonata

is developed here in the US, the Symphony hardware is done in germany.



- One common thing I've noticed in digital sudio distribution

solutions that allow you to access multiple music repositories is that they will only

let you access one at a time. Meaning that you can't create a single playlist

that includes music stored on different shares (for example a single playlist including a few songs on the Symphony and a few songs from an

iTunes library on my networked Mac). Is that also true with the Symphony?

that's funny, we are also working on this feature. It is not very easy

to implement, but we should get there.



Well, it looks like they are aware of all these issues and are working on the ones that the system doesn't tey do. The question, as always, is how long it takes for a company to make promised changes/upgrades.


Jeff
 

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Olive just announced the Musica as an addition to their lineup. The Musica seems to be the same unit as the Symphony but with a 160GB HDD vs 80GB. Cost of the Musica is $1,099 vs $899 on the Symphony. Additionally, it's geared towards the "Music enthusiast" vs the " Classical Music aficionado" that the symphony is targeted at.


Oddly, there's no mention of the Symphony's advanced tagging capabilities for classical music on the Musica product pages or PDFs. What if a classical fan wants a larger built-in HDD? Having 2 models with different HDD sizes is not uncommon in the music server market but I can't really see why they would make the classical tagging functions exclusive to the smaller HDD model. Perhaps both do it but they are just trying to market the Musica into a different niche.


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I saw the same thing...and had the same thoughts! I guess, too, that classical fans like the 'black' look, and 'music enthusiasts' like the silver look! I tried to understand the same issue regarding classical music tagging, and it was unclear.


I think what Olive is doing is a very interesting play for the market. It seems like most of the attention in media servers/devices is focused on both audio and video media playback and storage. The Audiotron, however, proved (IMHO) that there is a real market for audio only solutions, and I believe that companies like Sonos and Olive, with audio only products, will find success in the market.


I, for one, have no desire to fire up my 65" HDTV just to navigate and find some music to listen to; that's why I think audio only devices with integral display screens will appeal to folks. If I didn't have an Audiotron already, I'd probably run out and get a Symphony to try it out. But, alas....


Anybody out there own a Symphony or Musica yet? Comments?
 

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I also like the idea of a Digital Music only server, but I'm a bit skeptical of the advertised functionality. Before making a buying decision I'd like to hear the experiences and details from folks that already own one of these boxes.


After reading the NY Times article, here are some of the initial questions that come to mind.


1) Is the software (firmware) in these boxes user upgradable?


2) What kind of tags are used to label the music?


3) What functions are available via the browser interface?


4) I have a lot of world music. How good is the tagging database? Can it use CDDB services like Gracenote independent of iTunes?


5) Does it support multiple playlists? Do I have to walk up to the box to select the playlist or can I use the remote?


6) How good is the remote control? (I doubt the regular remote has an LCD) I thought that the Sonata could be used as a remote, but after looking at the datasheet pdf, the Sonata itself comes with a remote.


7) Is the hard drive user upgradable? I doubt it. If not, can I attach an external USB drive?


8) Gapless playback?


9) Does the wireless AP support. WEP WPA or WPA2?


10) Does anyone know of any other forum where these boxes discussed?


After RTFM:


1) Yes - Via Internet connection or via CD

2) ID3 tags (Don't know what version)

3) For editing, Artist, Song, Album, genre, metadata, playlist and to view some info in the music center

4) It uses an internal DB plus FreeDB via the Internet

5) Yes - Supports multiple paylists. The playlists can be access via iTunes, but it is not clear if one can select a playlist using iTunes remotely and have the music center play that specific playlist. It is also not clear if one can select playlists from the remote. The remote has function keys, but the manual does not specify what the functions are for.

6)No LCD on the remote.

7) No, the hard drive is not user upgrable. The USB only supports a USB Olive Hard Disk for backup, an Olive Keyboard and MP3 Players.

8) Not clear about gapless, but there is a section in the manual that mentions gap settings.

9) WEP only.

10) I found a related forum here http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=129963


I found that the Musica/Symphony manual did not have any details on WMA or about the Musica not being fanless as someone mentioned.
 

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The Olive Musica is very close to the ideal device that I have been looking for. I wish I could put a 400GB HD in, because I want to use FLAC for everything. I currently have an Integra that supports Net-Tune but I am very disappointed with Integra's lack of commitment to making the software better. The database is sketchy (just a .txt file with strange delimiters) and if you want lossless you have to use .wav and so on. Anyways, this product is very intriguing to me. I would rather have an audio only device with no video. Does anyone here own one of these? Are you happy with it? BTW, I called Olive and they told me that the Musica and the Symphony are identical with the exception of the hard drive and the color, etc. So the functionality should be the same.
 
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