• Olive OPUS Nș4 and MELODY Nș2

    As many of you know Olive recently announced its new OPUS Nș4 and MELODY Nș2 products. Instead of jumping on the standard press release bandwagon I thought I would talk to Olive myself to get the scoop for Computer Audiophile readers. The new OPUS and MELODY are all about simplicity, sound, and streaming. Read more for details.

    I'll start with the OPUS Nș4 which is a considerable upgrade from the Nș3. Audiophiles will like the upgraded DAC for even better sound quality. The silent hard drive is equally as important to those of us with quiet listening areas.

    According to Olive the biggest upgrade is the user interface. From the sound of it this interface is second only to Apple for design and eas of use. As you can see in the photos of the OPUS Nș4 there is a larger color screen. This is a touchscreen that puts the music at your fingertips. In addition to the touchscreen the unit can be controlled by the large buttons on the front of the player. Options are always a nice. The UI is one of the most intuitive available. Everything is color coded. This will make navigation so easy you'll be on autopilot in about a week. When it comes to finding your music the OPUS Nș4 is head and shoulders above the rest. The genre hierarchy and intuitive tagging are great features. This hierarchy can be influenced and personalized by the user and will allow the user to browse small lists. This gets you quickly past your whole gangsta rap collection from college and to the latest Michael Brecker album in no time. The tagging features are very nice as well. The tags can be different for every kind of music you have. For example, when listening to your new Flo Rida single you have no use for composer information and would rather see who produced the single or who created the beat. When you move over to your Bolero album from Reference Recordings you'll surely want to know it is from Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra with pieces from Liszt, Brahms, Dvorak, Berlioz, Chabrier, Kabalevsky, Deems Taylor, Dinicu, Jarnefelt and famous conductor Otto Klemperer. This is all customizable by the user and it is very easy. There is certainly no need for professional installation with this all in one music server.





    The OPUS Nș4 is of course 24/96 capable. This raises the question of how to get 24/96 content on to the server with only a CD-R/RW drive. I will say more good things are coming from Olive, in the form of online store integration etc.. If you can't wait and want 24/96 right now, then all you need is the MELODY Nș2.

    The MELODY Nș2 is very similar to the OPUS Nș4. They share the same simple interface and it produces excellent 24/96 audio. The MELODY Nș2 can be part of your multi-room solution, allowing your music to reach up to ten areas of the house. Simultaneously streaming content from the OPUS or even another source such as a DNLA/UPnP source. So, share your iTunes library and play it back through the MELODY Nș2 in any room of the house. This is where your Linn Records Studio Master flac downloads will shine as the MELODY Nș2 will play them back flawlessly. Don't worry about tough configuration either. Shared libraries will appear automatically! If you want to take advantage of all the MELODY Nș2 has to offer you'll want to connect it to an OPUS Nș4, or the up coming OPUS Nș6. The configuration allows really cool customized public and private playlists. You can dedicate a playlist to a certain room of the house or a specific MELODY Nș2.

    Last but not least, a feature many readers of Computer Audiophile will be fond of is the iPod Touch remote capability. Since both the MELODY Nș2 and the OPUS Nș4 have built-in web servers they are controllable via the Safari web browser on an iPod Touch or anything with a web browser for that matter.

    Olive is really on the ball with these latest offerings and they have made very good technology very easy. Something that many high performance audio manufacturers are still trying to perfect.

    See the Olive website for all the details.

     



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    Comments 6 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Nothing real specific other than it can do 24/96 and is an upgrade from the OPUS N 3.
    1. firefly0071's Avatar
      firefly0071 -
      According to CES 2009 (the trade show), Olive intend to upgrade the Opus 4 in summer 2009 (US).<br />
      <br />
      From my perspective, I would like to see and listen to an Olive in Australia. Olive has appointed a distributor in Australia but no products at the specialist hifi store.
    1. musicjones's Avatar
      musicjones -
      I've been using Olive's stuff since they launched. It's been a very rough ride. They're nice people, and they seem to have no earthly idea what the world is like outside their lab and production environment. The Maestro interface in particular is a maze of dead ends that fails in its most essential function. There is simply no way to see all your music easily without devoting endless time to editing metadata. Most of the time, you cannot get from point A to point B without a real struggle.<br />
      <br />
      One example: it's not possible to add the name of a composer to an album of that composer's works, even if every other piece of information is the same. First you have to leave the album list and go into a genre-controlled list of track names, which of course come with no standard formatting in the real world so the four tracks you need could be dozens or hundreds of tracks apart. Then you look for the tracks you need by opening every likely candidate and reading the metadata. (What, you want a search function? Sorry!). Then you have to add the composer's name (usually by hand, because the pull-down menus of names are woefully inadequate and they don't learn what you add). Often the interface hangs after every edit involving a new name, so what seems like a simple clean-up of metadata can become an hour-long torment. <br />
      <br />
      I bought into the Olive story at the beginning, and have been regretting it ever since. Thank heaven I've kept the physical LPs and CDs so it won't be impossible to start over with something rational from people who keep their promises.
    1. peechus's Avatar
      peechus -
      I sure sucked wind when my olive search came across musicjones regrettable buy into the olive story. I had winnowed my search for an audiophile quality music server to a precious few. It is because I rely heavily on internet jazz radio and would like to access the few [and growing] albums on my macbook pro I could forgo the metadata story,it's all about the sound. I would appreciate any comments as to sound quality.
    1. 192please's Avatar
      192please -
      "If you want to take advantage of all the MELODY Nș2 has to offer you'll want to connect it to an OPUS Nș4, or the up coming OPUS Nș6. The configuration allows really cool customized public and private playlists. You can dedicate a playlist to a certain room of the house or a specific MELODY Nș2."<br />
      <br />
      Chris is this not possible (via the PC or the ipod app) with a standalone Meolody 2? Is there anything else an Olive 2 cant do unless it has a 4 connected (except obviously for ripping and accessing the drive?) I asked Olive and they said that the Olive 2 has full functionailty even if the 4 is turned off. My understanding is that the software in it is identical and the only difference between an Olive 2 and a 4 is a hard drive and CD.<br />
      <br />
      It seems to me that all of the issues musicjones and others have identified are solved by just buying an Olive 2 and a separate NAS (which is very useful anyway for photos and computer backups). I've bought the NAS and will use DBpoweramp for ripping (way better for metadata and very simple to use), HPMediasmart storage (set up and working perfectly) and a Bryston BDA-1 DAC. The only problem is that I'll be limited to 24/96 but I figure Olive will release an HD version of the 2 at some point and will then have 2 room system and a 2TB NAS for less all-in than a single 4HD costs now. <br />
      <br />
      To rip all of your music collection into a single device from a 1-product company and be completely reliant on it for all of those functions seems sub-optimal to me, especially with the pace of product development we are seeing. As with all hard drives it is a question of when and not if the one in the Olive 4 will fail.
    1. 192please's Avatar
      192please -
      Well I bought an Opus 2 so I can now answer this... and the answer is no, it is not possible to use Opus 2 as a standalone streamer. According to the specs it should be possible but in practice the Opus 2 was a disaster. Here are some examples:<br />
      <br />
      - It is supposed to play 24/192 but in fact Olive says "currently we don't support the playback of 24bit files because we fight processor problems with that big amount of data to stream"<br />
      - mine would not stream from a Windows Home Server NAS. Nothing. Zip. Not even internet radio. According to my dealer this is a known issue and there is a software fix on the way. Olive said "There are improvements planned for the Melody, so it maybe fixed with this release." but couldnt give me a beta. <br />
      - It will stream on a Windows PC with Tversity or Twonky but will not display any information on whats playing. No album art, no track or album name, no data, no play time, just an orange triangle meaning something is playing.<br />
      - Will not run on a Windpows PC with Asset UpnP. Olive support says Asset is not supported but will be with a future software release.<br />
      - It is impossible to ever turn it off! The manual says you might damage it by disconnecting the power in sleep mode, but the "off button" only functions to put it in sleep or restart it.<br />
      - the interface / software is extremely poor and incredibly frustrating. If it doesnt work, the Olive itself will not give you any help re why. Mine needed a USB restart twice in the 3 days I was fiddling around with it and the performance swung between quick and completely frozen for no apparent reason.<br />
      <br />
      If Olive could only fix the software then this could still be a great product. But given it was released almost 2 years ago Im not holding my breath, or my Opus. Unfortunately mine is it is going back and like musicjones I think the Olive story is... well just that. I will be trying the (genuinely) 24/96 capable Squeezebox Touch when it arrives, with precisely the same functionality at 1/3rd of the price plus genuine multi-room capability and better online functionality (Spotify etc).