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Olive 4HD server ?


gjgman

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I have a Red Wine Isabellina HPA/DAC and am looking into getting a upgrade on the SB3 that I have been using for Headphone and through Home Theatre.

I like what I've read about the Olive 04HD but being new to computer audio I'd greatly appreciate any advise.

 

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I looked over the Olive O4HD pretty closely and I sent Olive 2 requests for information, neither of which were answered. Furthermore the flexibility of the Olive product seems to be less than is possible with a dedicated computer.

 

When I send a request for information to a company wanting that much money for their product and they refuse to answer or even to acknowledge my request, that tells me they have no interest in me and therefore I have the same amount of interest in purchasing their product.

 

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I have my unit last week and enjoying it very much.

The ability to rip & store your music collection in one machine is very attractive.

Not to mention it can stream to other UPNP devices!

The sound quality is very good but adding an external DAC improved it somemore.

Its also nice to be able to control from an Ipad.

Digital Radio is an added bonus.

Overall, good stuff..

 

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I'd like to know what this means. You expect your music server to play music and be easy to use. What more could you want? Internet radio? Ok, Olives got that. A touchscreen display? y'up. And, yup, it plays music files elegantly.

 

I have two dedicated computer music servers (Mac and Windows). Are they flexibile? I don't know. I've dedicated them to just playing music. But they do that great!

 

If the Olive sounds good to you and is easy to use, buy it.

 

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On the Olive your are locked into their system - both hardware and software. If you like the sound of the Olive and the interface that's fine.

 

But if you want to do things like enlarge/change the internal HD, or use a software interface or ripping setup more to your liking - you can't. You can't even make an independent copy of your Olive music library for your own use or for use on another machine.

 

I'd simply suggest you look online and find out a bit about the limitations of the closed system and see if it is or isn't a deal breaker for you.

 

None of this is to say that the Olive is a good or bad solution. It depends on what you are looking for. If you want a one-box all in one solution that is basically a "music server appliance" - the Olive is a very good solution. If you want to explore other aspects of computer audio, then it is a very limiting solution.

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I think the points above are valid. But I'm not clear as to the need to emphasize the Olive as a "closed" system. Kind of reminds me of the criticism Windows people used to make about Apple's proprietary OS and products.

 

The unit described above as a "closed" is really just a simplified solution to playing music, one that just works and is easy to use. The fact is, most listeners don't want to explore all the ways to rip a cd from Sunday. They just want music. I don't own an Olive unit, but have two computers highly tweaked for sound. And both computers have cost me oodles of time to configure and operate (downloading and reading about software like DbPoweramp, Max, EAC, MediaMonkey, XXHighEnd...). But I am a tweaker. Many if not most people do not want this, but instead seek a simple solution that just plays smooth music with an easy to operate interface. Now, ironically, after a few years of exploring bloatware-based playback, I too am starting to look to simplified, even one-box solutions.

 

As for flexibility, the Olive looks like it's actually quite flexible as a combination of components in one box. Looking at the specs, it looks as though there's a huge 2 TB HD, so I doubt anyone is going to need extra HD space. But there's a usb 2.0 port on the back which allows access and perhaps an extra backup HD. So you can transfer libraries for other uses. And looks as though you can even use the internal Burr Brown Dac as an outboard Dac for another digital source, per the website. All flexible IMO. Do people want to try different rippers and converter software with this box? Experiment with different software players? Heh, I doubt it. That is exactly what most listeners don't want in my experience. Only tweakers want to "test" different players and configurations.

 

I bought a Berkeley Dac a while ago and am basically locked into its sound and functionality. But look at all the variations in sound we are seeing from Dac to Dac now. The point is, none of this is entirely "open". In fact, if you use Windows or Mac bloatware, you're locked into an OS that has hundreds of tasks/drivers/interrupts going on in the background. Yes you can tweak this down to something like 30-50? You still don't have a truly "dedicated" music player. What is truly dedicated? 5 tasks? 10? Perhaps simplicity of design is more relevant than "open" or "closed". Clearly, as people are exploring computer playback out there, we are seeing better, smoother sound with the simpler, more dedicated designs.

 

The Olive units look like a streamlined Linux solution, so perhaps it needs no tweaking at all? Seems like a very dedicated system already, one that also has the convenience of an internal Dac and storage system for ease of use. You hit a button, it plays. (And looks much cooler than my computers.)

 

If you buy a Porsche, chances are you don't need to hall lumber in the back of it. You'd buy a pickup truck instead and are sort of "locked" into a closed lumber hauling system if you do. The two are apples and oranges. But the Olive does seem like a good value with decent flexibility and good specs for someone who doesn't want the headache of configuring or tweaking a computer. Would one describe this as a closed system? I don't know if that is valid.

 

What perplexes me is people who spend tons of money on their speakers and audio components, then drive this system from their office laptops or Macs, with grandiose expectations. Computers, as said, are noisy environments for audio, with thousands of drivers, interrupts, draws on the psu. That's perhaps why we've seen such buzz around NYC Paramedic's dedicated design, Matan's solution, and now Auraliti's cool new products. (This weekend's opportunity to hear the new L1000 player should be a game changer (yet again) in the struggle to make digital playback sound truly analog.)

 

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As I said, the Olive is for people who want a convenient one box solution - nothing wrong with that. Is it fair to call it a closed system? Yes, absolutely. Olive has made important hardware and sofwtare choices for you, and your basically have no other options available. Much like Apple products. That's a real limitation of Apple products - and exactly the reason many people don't switch to Apple. You are locked into their system and often can't get the solution you want in the Apple ecosystem of hardware and software. If Apple can meet your needs, great. But once it can't, you're stuck. That's simply a fact. The choices and options under Windows are much greater - for good and bad.

 

Again, not trying to get into an Apple/Microsoft debate. I just wanted the poster to be aware of some possible issues when buying an Olive product - and the closed system is one of them.

 

If you read the forums about the Olive products, there are a fair amount of people that aren't happy with the implementation once it is their hands. Not all owners think it is such a perfect, smooth system. Just something a potential buyer should be aware of.

 

Do the majority of people want a one box ripper/server/DAC solution? Probably. But some people think they want that, only to find that once they get it, they feel limited by it. For instance: what if you find the Olive UI isn't really to your liking? Or what if your HD dies? (not user replaceable). Or what if you want a different backup/import/export setup?

 

Again, not trying to put down the Olive. I owned one of their original models several years ago. It was fine. But I realized over time that I wanted to do some things with my setup that the Olive wouldn't let me do. The original poster was asking about the Olive and possible disadvantages. If he doesn't think the above are drawbacks for him, then he's just the target market the Olive people are looking for and he should order one and enjoy it.

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I greatly appreciate the advise that has been given so far about the Oive Music server.

I looking for the best way to get high quality sound into my Home Theatre system and headphone amp. The squeeze box 3 just doesn't produce the sound I'am looking for.

I welcome any advise that I can get here to at least point me in the right direction.

The Olive 04hd looked good but does the Olive 06hd put out a better sound?

Are there any other servers that I should consider?

How about a DAC ?

 

 

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Wow, look at Apple now. And Microsoft... If that's a closed system, then I'll take it. Let's not forget the advantages of developing a proprietary system. Like for example that it just works, elegantly. But I digress and this Apple vs Microsoft analogy that I made isn't the point here.

 

Regarding all of the closed system issues described above, I think all these are manageable and really pale in comparison to the advantages you get from the design. Hard drives can fail in all computers. Can you replace the HD in a music server yourself? My guess is it can't be that much harder than to replace one in a pc. But many pc warranties are void if you open them, which probably applies to Olive. So send it back. They'll fix it. And yes, you can backup your library and share it with other devices (using the usb port on the back). And you can bypass the dac in case you want to upgrade. Now that is an issue you should focus on. So you're really only locked into the user interface and sonics of the Olive, something that you should demo first before you buy. I would argue that a Mac mini and any laptop also lock you into certain sonic limitations. Yes, you can experiment with software players, but can you get inside the computer and try to isolate noise between components, remove excessive EMI/RFI that is rampant in these tightly packed machines? Remove the display?

 

Reason I make these claims is simply that I think Firedog is highlighting very small details that are really only applicable to someone who wants a flexible piece of lab equipment in their player, a device that can be configured to test many variables, internal parts, players, etc. That would be a tweaker. But let's not forget that most people don't want or need this, nor do they need the extra bloatware and drivers necessary to adapt to new internal parts, software, configs. The bottom line is you want great sound and a beautiful, elegant interface to work with. And this last item I might add does not come in any pc player software. I've tried many and think XXHighEnd, Amarra and PM are excellent, perhaps the best sounding on a pc. But compare their user interfaces with a Sooloos or the Olive. There's no comparison. None.

 

These two items: sound quality and interface design are arguably the two most important things for 95% of the users out there. So when you start making claims about the need to try every ripper or player that comes out, I see this as insignificant. We see clearly that flexibility in an OS means extra overhead in terms of more drivers, interrupts, draws on power supply, etc and this is anathema to good sound.

 

I myself would like to see the best of both worlds: the gorgeous Sooloos-like user interface on my iPad, with single box player (no dac) that is Linux based, no moving parts or HD and totally minimized for just music playback. (I think we are close to this and will report back in another topic area after the weekend.)

 

Again, I don't own an Olive unit nor any single box solution. However after building several music servers I've concluded that making a pc sound really good requires too much time and tweaking for the average user. There are countless posts on this great site about the myriad ways people choose to minimize their bloatware. My position now, after doing this for several years, is that maybe the technology is starting to mature. Maybe we don't have to reconfigure a computer anymore to get wonderful sound from hi-rez tracks. Maybe the digital music player is about to become yet another component on the audio rack: a single box, like the cd player.

 

Lastly, I would recommend to anyone that they spend serious time listening to several dacs as well. A single box player with a fantastic dac ($$) can deliver the goods and provide for a gorgeous, easy to use interface and stylish form factor.

 

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I had thought about an Olive prior to putting together another solution. The way I understand it, all the music you rip to an Olive becomes Olive's. If you decide to do something different later you can't even copy any of the music you have on the Olive hard drive. Also you will have no backup if your Olive gets fried. Just my 2 cents.

 

HP laptop;Windows 7; JRiver Media Center 18, WASAPI Event-Style; Transparent USB cable, one meter; Ayre QB-9 asynchronous USB DAC; Sony 6400ES AV Reciever, analog direct; generic copper speaker wires; Bowers & Wilkins 683\'s; all stock power cables; Android Gizmo remote

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I just viewed the website and see that there is a usb port in the back for backups. You use a remote app on the network (another computer or iPad) to access and configure the library. So I don't see how Olive could "take over" your music. You a conspiracy theorist?

 

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Yes, here are now lots. Soolos,Naim, Bryston, Sonore,Cambridge, Marantz, QSonix and other hifi companies have released servers in the past year or two. Some come without an internal HD and require attaching an external one. It might be a good idea to see if any of the others appeal to you before buying.

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Minzyman-

 

The point is really simple. Olive sets up their machines so that you CANT replace the HDs - if you do the machine doesn't work anymore. So you're wrong about that. Likewise they make it so you can't import/export/copy your music as you might with other music servers, for instance with encoding that makes the backup useless on other machines. As far as the interface, complaints about the Olive interface are frequent (unlike the Soolos).

 

Have you ever used the Olive, or just read about it on their website? If you actually knew the facts about the Olive before pontificating about it, it would be more useful in this discussion.

 

I've used it, and also used other user interfaces on a PC and iPad. I like several better than the Olive, including the one on the SB Touch. But with the Olive, I can't try them out to see for myself.

 

Wanting to do those things doesn't make someone a tweaker -it makes him/her someone wanting to do basic kinds of things people expect to do with computer audio, or realize they want to do once they have computer audio.

 

Yes, you are right that most people want a simple, easy to use unit that just works. They also want something that works the way they want it to, and doesn't need to get sent across the country anytime there is a problem. As I noted before, if you check the forums there are lots of Olive buyers dissatisfied just b/c of these issues; it's an important consideration when buying the product. I'm not saying it means the Olive sucks or doesn't have advantages, just that it does have issues that are a result of it's "elegant" solution.

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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What, you work for Olive I guess?

 

HP laptop;Windows 7; JRiver Media Center 18, WASAPI Event-Style; Transparent USB cable, one meter; Ayre QB-9 asynchronous USB DAC; Sony 6400ES AV Reciever, analog direct; generic copper speaker wires; Bowers & Wilkins 683\'s; all stock power cables; Android Gizmo remote

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No, as said I own two pc's. They are a Zalman machine with Lynx card and XXHighend, which sounds excellent, and a Mac dual G5 with Lynx, running Amarra and PM sometimes. Both port via AES to a Berkeley Alpha Dac.

 

My point to the original question was that most users will want a simple music player that sounds good and doesn't need tweaking, learning and constant updating. Most don't want the flexibility of trying different rip software or players. And after several years building and tweaking these types of computers myself and trying many configurations, I see the need for a single box player that actually sounds good and offers a great user interface.

 

Lastly, I have read about problems using pretty much all players, all software, seen some players get ripped limb from limb in the forums. None of that surprises me. All units have bugs to deal with.

 

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I was a complete novice. You can tell from my signiture what I decided to go with. I already had a PC. I went with JRiver media player because they have WASAPI, ASIO and other tools already included. I have had no problems with any music player I have tried. I could have spent way less on my DAC, but listened to this one and decided I liked the way it sounded and I liked the simple usb interface. I've ripped my music once and I have three backups. Well, if you need easier than that and sound quality isn't as much a priority an Olive would probably be a perfect fit. Jussayin!

 

HP laptop;Windows 7; JRiver Media Center 18, WASAPI Event-Style; Transparent USB cable, one meter; Ayre QB-9 asynchronous USB DAC; Sony 6400ES AV Reciever, analog direct; generic copper speaker wires; Bowers & Wilkins 683\'s; all stock power cables; Android Gizmo remote

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It has proprietary encoding, you can only use the Olive backup to copy your library back to the Olive in case of an HD failure or some other problem, you can't use the Olive backup elsewhere.

 

You also can't directly copy your music files from the Olive to any other device on your network, only to a HD attached to the Olive and using it's proprietary system

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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If you go the PC or MAC route there are plenty of resources here to keep you on the right path. Listen befor you buy. Just keep it simple. Back your music up. I have been very happy with my setup. You can go big or small. I went somewhere in the middle. Good listening!

 

HP laptop;Windows 7; JRiver Media Center 18, WASAPI Event-Style; Transparent USB cable, one meter; Ayre QB-9 asynchronous USB DAC; Sony 6400ES AV Reciever, analog direct; generic copper speaker wires; Bowers & Wilkins 683\'s; all stock power cables; Android Gizmo remote

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  • 2 weeks later...

Contrary to what some people believe, the Olive Server can use network drives and play music that is FLAC and WAV format etc (not the Olive format).

 

You do not need to rip/download the music onto your Oliver server to play music.

 

You can use the Olive server just as a CD player (like any cd player in a laptop).

 

The Olive 4HD has a 24 bit DAC. On a computer, you need to purchase the DAC (or sound card separate).

 

It's not as "Closed" as what other people believe.

 

 

 

Keep on Upgrading!!!

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I actually have an OLive 4 for a few weeks now & I really love it.

Personally i find it to be a very practical 1 box solution & honestly its really all i need.

It can store up to 5000 CD's in high quality uncompressed format. It has internet radio and it can stream to my other room components -all in 1 box.

The sound via analog output is very very good & I might add a Dac in the future if that warrants the extra purchase.

Its also very reliable & tucks nicely in my cabinet without having to worry about a monitor, a keyboard & mouse.

 

Really, i also have a Macbook for computer audio. Its also nice & more room to play with, tweak, etc.. But at the end of the day, when i just want to listen & enjoy the music, the Olive 4 is what I like. Add the i-pad as a remote & its as convenient as one can get.

 

Hope you can give it a try.

 

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