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Summary:

Sonos might have set the bar for digital music systems for the home, but that doesn’t stop others from trying, and knocking it off its perch. The latest is San Francisco-based Olive Inc, which has just launched Symphony, a wireless music hub powered by IBM PowerPC. […]

sonosSonos might have set the bar for digital music systems for the home, but that doesn’t stop others from trying, and knocking it off its perch.

The latest is San Francisco-based Olive Inc, which has just launched Symphony, a wireless music hub powered by IBM PowerPC. It has 2.5″ 80GB hard-drive, which holds up to 20,000 songs. The integrated CD database identifies, tags and archives the CD automatically. The device had a panasonic CD burner, and has a built in 802.11g access point to connect to the Internet and share the music wirelessly. The external hard drives can be connected to the device using the USB connectors. In all other aspects its pretty much like Sonos. It even has its own wireless add-on called Sonata. This is actually quite clever – instead of requiring another special box, you can simply plug the speakers/stereo/headphone right into (Sonata) and listen to music.

sonataYou can stream the music off this hub anywhere in the house, and play it in upto five rooms. I guess that is the difference between this product and Sonos, which allows you to connect upto 32 rooms. The other difference is price: Symphony is cheaper for now, but who knows this might prompt folks from Sonos to cut their price as well, and add a hard drive to their box. I like the way it looks, but I also love the way Sonos looks. The company plans to sell the device directly from its website for $899. The best part – it works on OS-X only, but still supports all music formats including Ogg and WMA (except Apple’s own format).

  1. This is very similar to the (canceled) HP Digital Entertainment Center and (canceled) ZapStation, right down to the price. IMO the Sonos system is a better fit for today’s world where most people already have their music ripped onto a computer. Besides storage, the Sonos system appears to have more features for the same price ($900).

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  2. GNC-2005-07-29 #86

    Smashingly long podcast tonight and you can see by the show notes it is full to the rim with information…

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  3. the service seems to offer a CD pre-loading service onto the 80 gig hard drive…an interesting difference vs. Sonos.

    Thanks for the heads-up.

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  4. support for exteranal USB drives is the key here (in my opinion)… why have a PC/Mac/server running all the time, plug the drive into the device and you have access to everything. + there’s a SPDIF output on this device.

    granted you’ll need amps in other rooms but at the end of the day an amp is WAY cheaper than a new Sonos box

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  5. This product seems to take the archaic path as a number of other products……I already have digital music, stored on a number of drives in my house…why would I need yet another?

    The company that takes advantage of the iPod user, me, that already has their music digitized, and gives me access to it, throughout the house, is going to get my dime.

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  6. mega i agree. i think for what you are looking for it is clear that apple will have to come up with something. i find that in the end all these different boxes are going to create a mish mash of devices which may not talk to each other. well if that is the case, then we don’t have to spend any money right now.

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  7. this looks like the most expensive solution out there to me. At nearly twice the cost of a sonos unit and you still need an amp. Its 4x the price of a soundbridge + you need an amp = back at the price of the sonos and half the price of this.

    Crazy decision to support mac only, great for the mac people but tough sell for the other 98%.. the other thing i dont get, the wireless piece only plays mp3 and wma. so the whole hifi thing falls apart when you try and add wireless.

    jay

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  8. Readers should be aware that although the Olive Symphony is probably a great a product, with an 80Gig and the future 160 Gig version, it will only allow a limited number of WAV files to be stored. Most files will have to be compressed allowing only MP-3 format playback – Bad sound. In addition, the user interface is suspect and looks very similar to an Ipod. The organizational factor is only as good as the meta-data they are using. If their meta data is not good, it will be hard to tell Mahler from Bruckner.
    For a truly revolutionary experience, check out http://www.fortunaclassical.com. Link to the Maestro experience to see:
    ***A fanless unit – no ambient noise
    ***400 Gig expandable storage – more room for music
    ***Future hand-picked pre-loaded bundles to start your collection off right
    ***A user interface that allows you to see and hear all of your music

    For more questions – Call Chad at 858-527-1565. We are in California and will be happy to show anyone our units.

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