Olive Media Olive 2 media streamer
The Olive Media Olive 2 is a network audio player to bridge the gap between computer and hi-fi.
- Silent, Wi-Fi connectivity
- Annoying user interface, design won't appeal to everyone, can't play 24-bit audio
While the concept - to make stored digital files easily playable at higher quality over a hi-fi system - is a very worthy aim, the Olive Media Olive 2 fell short of our expectations for a product at this price. It's limited to playing last century's 16-bit files, which it does competently enough once you've navigated its clunky interface. Ultimately though it's that awkward, dated and slow user interface, lying just below a cramped and insensitive small touchscreen, that deterred us from turning to the Olive 2 for regular music playing duties at home. In its present guise at least, this is not audiophile technology we'd recommend for your investment.
Price$ 1,799.00 (AUD)
Bridging the gap between the home PC and a high-quality audio system is the aim of the Olive 2 from Olive Media. It's a network audio player, able to receive digital audio over a local wired or wireless network - and it can also be used to play streaming internet radio.
The Olive 2 (formerly known as the Olive Melody) is no one-stop music system solution though. Instead it's designed to sit among hi-fi separates, and features regular stereo phono outputs for connection to a pre-amp or integrated amplifier, as well as Toslink and coaxial digital outputs for use with an outboard digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) or AV receiver.
The Olive Media Olive 2 casework is made from folded aluminium and designed to present a sloping upward-facing panel to the user, with the unit ideally sited at home at around waist level. In the centre of this panel is a small colour touchscreen display, just 95 x 55mm, through which you can setup and control the unit.
Additional buttons on this panel duplicate some functions from the touchscreen, and while these proved quite tough to press, they did come in useful for several basic operations; we found the resistive LCD panel itself somewhat insensitive to finger presses. Compared to the capacitive touchscreens found on modern smartphones, this was an unwelcome trip down memory lane to yesteryear's touchscreen tech.
And that sloping top on the Olive Media Olive 2 also means that any information on the screen is effectively impossible to read when sat even just a couple of metres away.
A remote control handset is included, a painted plastic piece that mimics the real metal types found on high-end audio separates - but this at least thankfully bypasses the underperforming touchscreen. Given the display visibility problems already noted, though, you'll still be working blind to control the Olive 2 from your sofa.
There is an iPhone app which gives you much easier control of your music playback, thanks to the Apple phone's friendly interface and responsive touchscreen, but this will only control the company's larger Olive 4 model.
The Olive Media Olive 2 is available in silver or black finishes, and our sample had a distinctive gloss black text patterning over its matte black anodised aluminium, comprising a endless list of general music genres. While distinctive enough, we'd suggest that few well-heeled opera lovers, for instance, would want to be faced with a 'PUNKGARAGERAP' legend emblazoned across their audio player.
You interact and select tracks from your music collection on the Olive Media Olive 2 through a black and yellow-themed screen interface, with text showing in white; behind the scenes, the Olive uses a Linux operating system. The graphical user interface could be slow to update as menu items were selected, and while we usually got to where we wanted to go eventually, it was neither slick nor intuitive.
Scrolling through long lists of albums or artists on the Olive Media Olive 2, for example, tested our patience as only five lines are shown on the screen at once, and to sift through a long list was always a slow process.
With a few hundred albums on file, and a desire to get to somewhere further down the alphabet, our thoughts turned to just picking the CD off the shelf, rather than have to painfully scroll through page after page of listings, each slow to refresh.
Trying to navigate the online radio station options was if anything a slower process. We couldn't scroll through the list of available stations without endless delays as the Olive Media Olive 2 tried to download station lists and availability.
There is an option to save favourite stations, but it's far from obvious how to add a playing station to the list. We were pleasantly surprised, though, that the scrolling display of large characters that shows a playing song was capable of displaying non-Latin text characters, an essential touch for some foreign stations.
We also encountered random freezes where the unit was unresponsive for minutes at a time.
You can use the Olive Media Olive 2 with an existing music collection on your network, such as stored on a NAS drive, or to play music stored on the company's accompanying server-style player, the Olive 4.
This unit offers similar functionality but in a full-width case, and adds a CD drive and internal hard disk, in order to rip and burn discs as well as store CD albums internally.
For wired connections, the Olive Media Olive 2 has a Gigabit Ethernet port on the back panel. Wireless connectivity is covered by a hinged plastic aerial, ugly enough that it's best folded out of sight, and which allows wire-free Wi-Fi connections on a home network, albeit limited to slower 802.11g technology.
The Olive Media Olive 2 player can play WAV, FLAC, MP3 and AAC files, although the latter is only specified up to an unsatisfactory 128kb/s bitrate. And as with many similar network players, iTunes users who've preserved their music collection in Apple Lossless format will be faced with a long transcoding process to convert their library into a format the unit can read.
Audio quality was good, with an even, smooth sound free of edginess or digital glare. And with no internal hard drives or fans, the unit has no moving parts and is blissfully silent.
While the Olive Media Olive 2 could play our selection of MP3 and FLAC tracks ripped at or below 16-bit CD quality, we were disappointed that it couldn't play higher resolution 24-bit audio, such as the 24/96 files now available from quality-conscious music download sites.
Given that this Olive Media Olive 2 product seems to be aimed at a more affluent audiophile customer, this is something of an oversight, forcing a would-be Olive customer to look much further upstream to the Olive 4 HD server.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Bravia 2017 TVs: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 3 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 4 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Plex Cloud is now open to all paid users
- Google eyes remote content controls for parents in YouTube Kids app
- Up next for Apple TV: 4K streaming reportedly in the works
- Apple’s original TV shows are almost ready for prime time
- Apple snags Amazon Fire TV exec to lead Apple TV efforts
PCW Evaluation Team
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
- Ring Video Doorbell review
- Alcatel A3 XL phone: Full, in-depth review
- Sony X9300E 2017 TV: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCSecurity TesterNSW
- FTPL/ SQL developerOther
- CCProcess AnalystNSW
- FTService Desk AnalystNSW
- CCSenior Automation Test AnalystQLD
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTSenior Project AnalystOther
- FTBusiness Intelligence DesignerOther
- FTASP.NET DeveloperNSW
- TP.Net DeveloperWA
- TPDigital Business AnalystNSW
- FTIT GraduateACT
- FTTest LeadACT
- FT.Net Developer (WCF & WPF)Other
- FTSenior DBAOther
- TPProject ServicesACT
- FTSharePoint DeveloperACT
- FTVoice Solution Engineer - Telecommunications (cisco)Other
- CCWeb Applications SupportQLD
- FTJunior-Mid Level Implementation CoordinatorQLD
- FTSenior Operations Support OfficerACT
- FTService Desk AnalystACT
- TPTest ManagerNSW
- FTSenior IT Project ManagerOther
- FTSenior Systems Engineer - Virtualisation and StorageVIC