Hope this is posted in the right section.
Does anyone had any experience of the Brennan HiFi system for storing and playing CD collections on hard disk? As we're living in two locations and have a modest CD collection (about 300, mainly classical) it does appear to be an possible solution for us.
The main attractions for me are its simplicity and it's ability to store music in uncompressed format, so it has the potential to produce better sound quality than MP3 docking system players (although MP3 can be used). Unfortunately, it's currently impossible to 'try before you buy' as it's only available direct from the makers.
I would think very carefully before committing to a Brennan JB7
Earlier in the year my son and I researched the options for transferring our vinyl, cassette and CD collections onto hard disk.
My first thought was a Brennan following the regular full-page ads in Private Eye Magazine.
My son did a lot more research on the internet and we concluded that the Brennan does not really offer very much:
The most expensive model has a very small hard disk.
You would still need another hard disk to backup the Brennan onto – from the internet there are ongoing problems with backing up the Brennan.
Very poor facilities for tagging CD's.
Given that the JB7 costs 409 Sterling delivered, you could buy a lot more for the money.
On top of that you will need speakers at each location to connect to the JB7.
We ended up with:
Our existing Vista PC with i-Tunes 9
All our music stored on a Netgear RND4210 NAS Server with twin 1T hard drives
Squeezebox Radio in the kitchen – with battery pack and remote control so that we can use it outside on the terrace.
Squeeze Duet connected to our existing sound system in the main house.
2 x iPod Touch 64gb
Ableton Live – mainly for my son for his guitat plus transferring from vinyl and cassette
Jdownloader – for capturing audio from YouTube
Switch Sound File Converter
For your situation, and assuming that you take a laptop with you between homes then perhaps a large wi-fi external hard drive and some decent speakers at each end.
A lot less expensive than a Brennan.
My biggest concern with the Brennan would be purchasing a piece of kit of that value from a very small company.
They are doing lots of advertising but have no product immediately available – why?
If they are not there in 6 months time where do you go if you have a problem?
I have posted below just one comment from the many internet forums covering Brennan.
Re: Brennan JB7
I would not buy a Brennan JB7 personally. The Brennan is not a streamer, its not networked; its just a very basic mp3 player, which has the selling point that it can rip CD's without a PC, with it's own optical drive.
It does not look like it does a great job off ripping CD's - it has very limited codec support and the meta data tags are provided on a CD which a) you have too subscribe to (£5 a time, although its freely available on the internet), and b) are very infrequently updated just every few months. And if any CD's info is missing (which it must be for new releases) or CD's in the database but is incorrectly tagged, which they often are (or just that you want to sort things differently), then entering/editing the tags on that screen would be stroke inducing.
I do see some uses for this device, maybe in a bar or boat or something, or maybe for people who are incredibly technophobic and struggle to use a toaster (which if you read the promotional nonsense on their website it clearly is) - but why in home? who does not have PC? Ultimately you will often end up ripping and organising first on a PC anyway, even if you had to do it around at a mate. In that case, if you have access to a PC, an ipod and decent dock would be a better solution, or maybe and iPod and some Audio Engine A5's. The more I look at the Brennan JB7 the more I can see how frustrating and limiting it would be. Maybe i'm being a bit harsh, it's a great concept an all in one system, and it's nice to see a smaller company forge forward, but this is where it's at IMO. I think i would be much less critical if there was some way you could update the database yourself and for free (like you can with every other MP3 player on the planet).
That said, using an iPod in a fixed hifi situation would be daft when you look at Squeezebox and Sono's. If you dont want to use a PC as the server, you could get a Squeezebox and NAS or WHS for you £750 and would be about 1,000,000 times better than the Brennan