- Written by Chris Heinonen
- Published on 31 May 2011
As wonderful as the included music on the Olive was, the first thing I wanted to do was load up my music. I started out by testing the importing of some CDs I had around. I set the Olive up to use FLAC so there was no loss of quality and began with REMs debut album, Murmur. Unfortunately, it detected Murmur as the Mobile Fidelity release and not the standard release, so it didn't grab the appropriate artwork. This worried me a bit as I thought it would be an easy album to start with, so I tried a few other albums I thought might be harder. Abbey Road from The Beatles was identified correctly as the 2009 stereo remaster, as was the 2010 mono version of Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home. After it got those correct, I tried for a compilation CD from a local Portland radio station, KINK Live 13. Surprisingly, the Olive detected this correctly as well. Other than the initial misstep on REM, which is easy as both albums have identical track lengths and numbers, the Olive never had an issue importing a CD I gave it.
Since I had already ripped all of my music to my PC, I wanted to be able to simply copy it over and not have to repeat the process. With the Olive, all I had to do was browse to the IP address in Windows Explorer, where an Import folder is visible. All that I had to do then was copy over my music library to this folder and the Olive automatically imported it (though copying 300 GB of albums takes a while). One thing that I did discover is that some people like to rip their albums as a single FLAC file for the whole album, and a CUE file that tells the software programs where the track breaks are. This allows for a bit-perfect copy of the album to be made later with no extra gaps between tracks or any other small changes. However, the Olive is currently unable to read the CUE file for these images and so you will just have a single FLAC file for the entire album.
In the cases where the Olive does identify a CD incorrectly, it offers a web interface called Maestro to let you correct this. Once you point your web browser to the Olive device, you can browse all of your imported music, edit and delete albums or individual tracks, and control playback on the Olive directly. Additionally Olive has apps available for iOS devices, like the iPhone and iPad with an Android version coming soon. I initially had some issues getting the iPhone version to work, but after getting the issue resolved quickly with their tech support, it was working and made searching the Olive library much faster and easier. You can quickly scroll through your lists of albums and artists, and jump right to a letter. On the iPad the interface is the same, just a lot more albums and artists are visible at once due to the larger screen area.
Of course, all of this doesn't matter if the Olive doesn't sound good when playing this music. I loaded up my music on the Olive and went straight to some of my favorite evaluation tracks. On the MoFi version of Natalie Merchant's "Tigerlily" album, I found that the soundstage of the Olive was a big more narrow and shallow than on the Oppo BDP-83SE. Her vocals were more forward than they were through the Oppo, though still remarkable clear. Bass notes were strong and detailed without being fat. At the very top end of the scale some violins and bells sounded perhaps a little bit thin and edgy, but not to the point of being harsh for listening.
While unable to compare it directly to anything else, as I don't own the titles myself, I did listen to the HRx material that Olive had preloaded onto the 03HD for me. Music that is recorded and mastered at 24/176.4 resolution is truly wonderful to listen to at home. Instruments have far more air and detail compared to their CD counterparts. Instead of just hearing the pluck of a guitar, you'll hear the string reverberate after the note has been played. The position of instruments in the soundstage is far more precise, and individual instruments keep their sounds instead of just blending together. It's often been said that downloaded music is the future, and if it's the same quality as this, I think we will all be happy.