Olive One's $400 highfidelity streaming music player, handson

Many's the streamer that can assault your ears with audio of all sorts, but how many can do it simply, with irreproachable fidelity, and at a reasonable price? Few that we can think of, so that's exactly the tack being taken by Olive with its Olive One, a $400 dollar streaming player and amp currently on Indiegogo. It's a disk-shaped audio player with a built-in HD amplifier, single volume dial and 7-inch touchscreen to choose your music. It includes an iOS, Android and Windows 8 app so that your handset can work as a remote control, while letting you stream music from your slate or phone, too. So how did our (admittedly non-audiophile) ears take to the device when we saw it at CES? Read on past the break to find out.

The company's been around building audiophile devices since 2005, but is taking the crowdfunding route with the Olive One to bring it to a wider market as quickly as possible. While it used high-end audio components to please audiophiles, CEO Oliver Bergman said the company's also emphasizing the Olive One's versatility and ease-of-use. To wit, the device has a clever virtual three-dial interface to select music corresponding to artist, album and song, along with the aforementioned app, TV navigation via Miracast, aluminum and glass construction, Bluetooth 4.0 for the remote control functions, dual-band 802.11n WiFi for streaming, uPnP compatibility and Pandora built-in. An optional 1TB or 2TB hard disk will boost the price by $100 and $200 respectively, but give you the ability to stream all your tunes to any device wherever you're at, home-cloud style.

Considering it's still a prototype at this point, the Olive One worked pretty well despite a little balkiness. Choosing music manually couldn't have been easier with the new interface, and the system will automatically glean musical tastes for multiple users based on listening patterns, offering choices appropriately -- even by room or time of day. The listening experience itself was sublime, as the pair of built-in HD amps pumped out extremely clean-sounding music, to our ears, whether from a CD-quality or 24-bit source. That's because the circuitry will take the rough edges off more compressed audio, according to the engineers. We listened to the amp through a pair of $300 off-the-shelf speakers, but the company will offer its own model for $200 or so, which can be also used as a stand for the player or distributed around the room if you buy more than one.

The company has nearly approached its $200k goal on Indiegogo with three weeks left, but will start piling on extras like an extended warranty to early buyers, provided it meets certain benchmarks. They'll start to hit the market in July, according to Olive -- check the source and PR for more info, or see our hands-on and Olive's Indiegogo video below.

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Olive Announces World's First All-in-One Home Music Player

Highest-end Manufacturer Opens Market to Trendsetting Consumers with First All-in-One High Definition Music Player, Just $399

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – December 12, 2012 – Revered by audiophiles and music lovers the world over, Olive Media Inc.®, today introduced the Olive ONE, the first all-in-one high definition (HD) music player – a visually stunning touchscreen device that helps people better store, organize, access and enjoy their music at home. Offering Olive ONE for $399, the company brings the high-end music server market to the music loving masses. Olive has also put the device, currently in development, up on popular crowdfunding site Indiegogo and expects to ship the player in summer 2013.

"Olive ONE brings order and refinement to the music side of life," said Dr. Oliver Bergmann, co-founder and CEO of Olive, "Those who care about quality, style and most of all music, will want to have this first-ever all-in-one HD music player."

EYE-CANDY THAT'S SWEET, SMART & SOUNDS GREAT

In a world of plenty – streaming services (such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube), downloadable music files often living in iTunes, CD collections, and Internet radio stations – people struggle to keep track of, and ultimately enjoy, their music. With sound quality reigning supreme, Olive ONE unifies and brings joy to the home listening experience, like never before.

The all-in-one HD music player sets itself apart by bringing the highest quality audio possible to digital music, introducing an artful circular design, and by topping the device design off with a brilliant glass touchscreen interface. The player instantly meets every mood with perfect music, not technological defeat or
distortion.

Unlike other home music players, Olive ONE features a beautiful touchscreen, eliminating the need to fumble for the remote control, unlock screens or boot mobile phone apps to control it. Even so, iOS and Android smart phones can be used as a remote control as well. Because the Olive ONE is wireless, its elegant interface is easily transferred to WiFienabled televisions for remote browsing, as well as playing music on the telly.

HOW IT WORKS

Designed by Europeans and hand-built in the USA, the Olive ONE is simple to set up and use. Just unpack the player and connect it directly to your speakers. One simple push of a button integrates the WiFi network – no cumbersome encryption modes and keys to be entered. The player automatically recognizes all of the music on the computer network, and music is enjoyed in minutes.

Just nine inches around and slightly over 1.5 inches tall, the ONE sits comfortably almost anywhere. In terms of optional add-ons, to date, Olive will offer a powerful 2.5" AV hard disk drive that stores music for instant access, while also turning the player into a subscription-free home cloud.

A LASTING INVESTMENT

Because paying monthly music-related cloud storage subscription fees, forever, is not ideal, the optional hard disk drive is a heralded solution. It stores up to 6,000 albums in CD quality or 20,000 HD tracks, minus buffering and network hiccups. Social network integration, and an open architecture, for the invention of cool new apps, are also part of the mix.

As detailed in the company's other news release today, "Music & Gadget Fans Help Develop Home Music Player ...," Olive ONE's open architecture will allow customers and crowdfunding backers to influence what goes on the platform. The open hardware and software design also means that the player will not be outdated or made obsolete too soon, like so many consumer electronics today. Olive ONE upgrades can be easily downloaded from the Internet.

PRICING & AVAILABILITY

Olive ONE is slated to ship in summer 2013, with a price of only US$399. The player has been in development for over a year and a pre-production prototype is completed. Versions with the hard drive will sell at US$499 for 1TB, and US$599 for 2TB. Olive ONE will be sold directly at http://www.myoliveone.com, and ship to 220 countries worldwide.