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Olive 4 Review

December 8, 2009 By Lauren Dragan

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Olive 4 Review
Olive 4 Review
Olive 4 Review
Olive 4 back panel

Olive You So Much: A romance in two parts between a girl and the Olive 4, a sexy young multi-room music server.

At the risk of sounding clichéd, I’ve discovered there is such a thing as love at first sight.

Your eyes lock on a handsome stranger, a smile creeps across your lips and suddenly your heart begins to flutter. Before you know it, your hands are all over their etched-aluminum chassis and fiddling with their touch-activated screen like a teenager in a parked car with his first iPhone. It’s magical.

And totally hot.

Olive 4 Review

OK, so maybe I was initially attracted by the obviously superficial: the Olive 4 Hi-Fi Server and his cute little brother the Olive 2 Hi-Fi Player are undeniably good looking. Even my perpetually unimpressed male colleagues blurted unprompted comments on their attractiveness. The fine-grade aluminum enclosures are detailed with a minimalist-art-flair: genres of music etched seemingly endlessly across the top surface.

Slim, sleek, silver… oh, but don’t think the sophisticated good looks blinded me completely. To make this romance last, the 4 needed to have some substance as well. I powered it up hoping my heart wouldn’t be broken.

The first thing that impressed me was how accessible the Olive’s operations are: Using the included remote, rubberized front-panel buttons, or touchscreen, the menu is intuitive and easy to navigate. A simple home screen allows you to choose from the stored music library, internet radio, from a separate UPnP-enabled computer on your home network, and, of course, good-old-fashioned CD. Stored music is organized automatically and browse-able by genre, album artwork, name, artist or track. Or, use the search function within each sub-menu and find precisely what suits your mood.

Connected to your network through Ethernet cable or wirelessly, the internet radio selections are robust and similarly organized. Streaming music is limited in quality by the station broadcasting and the broadband connection you have in your home network, but overall it sounds clean and is hiccup-free. If you have a hankering for an album on a home computer, you can browse UPnP-enabled Macs and PCs through the network connection as external music sources. This process can be a bit slow at times, but that's understandable considering all the platforms interfacing at once.

Olive 4 Review

Adding music to the Olive 4’s hard drive is extraordinarily simple via CD, but to save you some time, Olive offers a free import of 100 CDs for new owners. Once you have all those tracks locked and loaded, you might want to make a playlist or two. This is something I found especially neat-o.

Using the 4’s IP address, and Olive’s Maestro program on the web, you can use your PC (or Mac’s) Firefox browser to create and organize playlists, and edit track metadata. No annoying programs to install on your computer! Maestro is drag-and-drop, simple to use, plus I think it's fun to make playlists from a different room than the one where the unit resides.

Olive 2Speaking of different rooms, here’s where baby brother Olive 2 comes into play. The 2 is like a little music sub-station for other rooms in your home. It has access to all the music on the 4's hard drive, internet stations external UPnP sources.

Hook up some speakers through an optical, RCA or SPDIF coax (the same as the 4’s connections), and you can tap into 4’s musical wealth.

What’s fantastic is that you don’t need to listen to the same thing as what is playing on 4. Nope, little 2 has a mind of his own, and you can have up to 10 of these sub-stations connected wirelessly (up to 20 wired) and playing different music in every room of your house.

So go ahead, install that system you always wanted in the walk-in closet or next to the toilet. We won’t judge.

Both the Olive 4 and 2 are passively cooled through a heat-dissipating enclosure, which means less noise and the 4’s CD player spins very quietly. The analog connection tends to be a little on the low side, level-wise, and needs to be cranked to it hear well. Other than this small issue, sound coming through the DA of both units is well reproduced, and audiophiles will be pleased indeed.

When it comes time to change the music, the included remotes are silver with appropriately olive-green buttons and a ’70s s vibe. Some might call them bulky; I say they’re retro-chic. They are, however, less responsive than the touchscreen. The on-unit buttons are somehow slowest of all. This might bother me if there weren’t so many options, but as the touchscreen works rather quickly, I find myself un-phased.

A plus for eco-minded folks: An off switch in the back of the Olive 4 and a power-saving mode on the menus of both units prevent them from using more energy than necessary. Other nifty little perks include the CD player that also can burn disks of your playlists, a timer for waking or falling asleep to music and a free downloadable iPhone app that allows the iPhone to double as a remote.

Olive’s music server definitely has it goin’ on, and if silver isn’t your thing, a black chassis is also available. The storage is customizable to your needs as well: ranging in price from $1,499 for 500 GB; $1,599 for 1 TB; and $1,799 for 2 TB. The Olive 2 retails for $599. The step-up 4HD just became available for $1,999 which can store and play back 24-bit, 192 kHz files from its 2 TB hard drive.

So you have plenty of ways to make this relationship fulfill all your multi-roomed desires. I know they met mine. As you can probably tell, I’ve got it bad, and I think this time it’s gonna last.


Want to win an Olive 4 of your own? Check out our Giveaway HERE!


4: $1,499 (500 GB), $1,599 (1 TB), $1,799 (2 TB)
2: $599

CONTACT: 877.296.5483, olive.us

 Olive 4 Review


What a awesome product!

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