Olive Musica Wireless Music System

Olive Musica Wireless Music System

OliveStreamingBox1.jpgWe’re of three minds when it comes to the Olive Musica streaming box. The audiophile in us says, “We’ll pay any price for a streaming box that sounds this fabulous.” The skinflint in us says, “Why pay for features our PCs already have?” And the geek in us says, “That’s cool!”

The Musica has several characteristics in common with our 2005 “Gear of the Year” pick, the Sonos Digital Music System. The Musica, for example, is outfitted with not only an 802.11g wireless access point, but also a built-in four-port Ethernet switch. The Musica delivers absolutely pristine audio quality that’s at least on par with the Sonos. But like the Sonos, the Musica has a few redundant features.

Where the Sonos includes a superfluous built-in amplifier, the Musica comes with not only its own 160GB hard drive, but also its own CD burner, music database, and Internet radio presets. In fact, one of the manufacturer’s stated design goals is to render the server PC unnecessary.

Olive has wisely recognized, however, that ‘tis better to augment a PC than to replace it with something inferior. Despite the large, high-resolution LCD, the innovative jog/shuttle controller, and the collection of buttons adorning the Musica’s brushed-aluminum face, its user interface is much simpler than a mouse-driven GUI. The remote control serves its function well, but it’s certainly not the best remote we’ve ever used.

It’s inherently cool to watch the Musica suck a CD into its tray-less CD burner, and then proceed to rip the contents (you can even program it to do this without touching a single button). You can digitize analog sources, such as your collection of classic vinyl, too. Burning a CD on the spot is equally nifty. Armed with these gee-whiz features and the Musica’s immaculate sound, the geek and the audiophile in us succeeded in overcoming our skinflint’s objections.
—Michael Brown

Month Reviewed: January 2006

Verdict: 9

URL: www.olive.us




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