I read Geoffrey Morrison's review of the Olive 4HD music server on the Home Entertainment Web site with great interest, because I recently heard the 4HD at a friend's house. The review provides a lot of information that I'm not covering here.
It's a cool-looking device, and I really like that it can be used without being hooked up to a computer. It's more like a CD player with a built-in 2TB hard drive.
There's a Gigabit Ethernet port and a Wi-Fi module if you're into the home network thing, and a free application to let you use your iPhone or iPod Touch as full remote control. Also, you can use the 4HD's HDMI interface to hook up your HDTV.
The 4HD can store high-resolution audio files, up to 24-bit/192KHz on its hard drive. But what I wanted to know was does the 4HD sound better than a CD player when playing ripped CDs?
I listened to a number of CD/4HD comparisons and came away a believer. The 4HD sounded "less digital," cleaner, and just better than the original CDs. The difference in clarity was the single most impressive improvement hard drive replay offered.
We even compared SACDs to CDs (of the same title) ripped to the 4HD. Again in this test, the 4HD's clarity trumped SACD's. I love the fact that the 4HD, unlike most music servers, doesn't need to be hooked up to a computer. It's just a great sounding hi-fi component that can store up to 20,000 tracks at 24-bit resolution.
The 4HD sells for $1,999; however, Olive also has standard definition models starting at $1,499.