Hands On: Olive Opus No. 4 Server, Melody No. 2 Player
Considering I didn’t look at the manuals, I found the system to be self-explanatory, fast and easy to set up.
Olive Media has been in the media server business since 2005. Unlike many companies that try to be all things to everyone, it has taken a stripped-down approach.
A look at Olive Media’s current product line shows it’s succinct, with only two: The Opus No. 4 Hi-Fi Digital Stereo media server and the Melody No. 2 Hi-Fi Multimedia Player.
The Opus server is available with a choice of hard drive sizes that range from 500GB to 2TB in silver or black exteriors.
Both the Opus and Melody’s back panels feature a choice of RCA, optical and digital coax outputs, encrypted wireless connectivity and Ethernet, and color touchscreens that provide metadata feedback and control.
Opus also includes a slot-loaded CD player that can be used to rip CDs or for CD playback, and the ability to host up to 10 Melody units to address larger multiroom audio installations.
I placed the main unit, the Opus, on top of my equipment cabinet in my home theater. After plugging it in and running a set of RCA cables to my pre/pro, I went into the Opus’ graphical user interface and set the time, date and other information. I then configured the network through the device’s automatic option to allow it to reside on my wireless home network.
Moving onto audiophile functions, I chose my input/export CD ripping levels and calibrated the LCD touchscreen, which took about a minute.
Shifting to the Melody unit, I set it up in two configurations. For my living room I ran an optical cable from the Melody to a Cambridge Audio DACMagic digital-to-analog converter and connected the DACMagic to a set of Adam Audio A5 active monitors via single-ended RCA cables. In my bedroom I ran a set of RCA cables to a ZVox 550 base speaker system.
Considering that I didn’t even look at the manuals, I found the system to be self-explanatory, fast and easy to set up.
Satisfied With Performance
Listening to the Opus equipment through a system that includes Bryston electronics and a set of Thiel Audio CS3.7s, I was generally satisfied with its sound quality. It won’t replace a quality CD player, but its performance can probably be enhanced with the addition of a quality external DAC.
FLAC-encoded files sounded clean and smooth, but they lacked the inner detail and texture that a top-notch CD player would provide.
The same can be said of the Melody node device, which I found to have slightly more midrange richness through the ZVox speaker system and a bit more smoothness, resolution and top-end extension with the Adam A5s.
Unlike the company’s now discontinued Symphony server, I found no wireless-related content delivery problems with two-zone solution.
The only quirky performance-related element that I ran into came when I was ripping CDs. It seemed like it took the Opus some time to catalog the discs and its contents. This left the newly ripped discs unavailable to me for immediate playback. Eventually the ripped discs would catalog and become available for me to play.
Expanded Options, No iTunes Compatibility
I think Olive has improved its interface usability and its ease of installation. It has also expanded its option list and wireless reliability.
The only things that concern me about the system are its price, which is more than some wireless solutions on the market, and its lack of iTunes compatibility, which may turn off some consumers.
Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at [email protected]
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