The Olive Opus No.4 media streamer is impressively designed, simple to operate and gratifying to listen to. It's painfully expensive, but we'd happily pay a premium for the build quality and design as well as the impressive specifications.
The Olive Opus No.4 is not an impulse buy. At roughly £1200 it fits in the realm of the Logitech Transporter. It's a high end audio device aimed squarely at audiophiles and gadget geeks. Our test unit had a 1TB hard drive installed for users to store their music collection in WAV, FLAC, MP3 or AAC formats. More niche codecs like OGG and Monkey's Audio aren't supported (since we prefer FLAC we weren't too fussed). A wired Gigabit Ethernet port and 54Mbps 802.11g wireless networking means you can stream audio from anywhere around your house.
As with the Transporter, the Olive Opus No.4 looks like a high end product. The interface on the front of the device is simple: navigation buttons join playback and power controls next to the 4.3in high resolution colour LCD. The only other feature is a thin slot loading CD drive, cut into the brushed aluminium fascia. Be careful, though — the slot is precisely cut and surprisingly sharp (when we were brushing down the front of the Opus No.4 we managed to get a nasty slice on a fingertip).
The interface is simple to use and easy to navigate. The colour LCD makes navigating through music stored on the player's 1TB internal hard drive a breeze — looking at the screen from a distance gives you the impression you're using an over-sized Apple iPod. You can sort through your music, change volume and adjust various settings using the Olive Opus No.4's remote control, which is as much a work of art as the player itself.
We connected the system to JVC's NX-F3 home theatre system through the Opus No.4's analog and digital optical outputs. First order of business was to try out an audio CD — interestingly enough the Opus No.4 doesn't have SACD support. We wouldn't call this a massive flaw — SACDs are light on the ground compared to regular ones — but enthusiasts might be disappointed. The player delivered a detailed and expansive range of audio — our relatively cheap speakers were the bottleneck in this situation.
The sound quality from the Opus No.4 is more than enough to put pre-built home theatre systems to shame — but unless you have a carefully selected stereo setup you won't be able to get every nuance and detail from your CDs.
At its core the Olive Opus No.4 is a simple product — an audio streamer that also has internal storage. If you're an audio lover — or a design nut — and can support it with some good quality stereo components, you'll be pleased.
The Olive Opus No.4 media server is a brilliant albeit expensive product. Its construction and interface are simple and elegant. While you can get a device that does much the same job for significantly less money, you're paying for pedigree here.