Denon CEOL Piccolo DRA-N5 Networked Micro System With iPod Dock (Black)
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Ready to joining the network, coming along with versatile connectivity, internet radio, network audio streaming and WiFi, new CEOL Piccolo is our biggest small thing of the year. All boxes are checked for best in class entertainment from new digital media. Apple devices can be connected by the iPod dock, the front USB or by AirPlay, the Apple own streaming technology. Music on your PC, NAS or from the internet can be streamed as the CEOL Piccolo is DLNA1.5 certified and can talk to the components in the network. Online services Spotify and last.fm are supported too. And via the digital input the system can be expanded, by for example connecting your TV or settop box. The package is completed by an easy to use remote handset. If you like there are Remote Apps for iOS and Android available too. DRA-N5 NETWORK RECEIVER NEW FEATURES Compact body with high quality soundAirPlay for direct link to iDevice and iTunes"Play to" from Windows Media Player 12 (or higher)Plays music from P
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First the good points -
Size: it's a neat little box, deeper than I imagined and though plastic on the outside it's a fairly solid seeming bit of kit with a piano black finish.It wouldn't fit in with standard size separates, but as I was looking for a compact standalone device I'm happy with it.
Connectivity: It comes with most of the inputs/outputs that you're likely to need. Digital and analogue inputs, sub-woofer output as well as speakers, USB and iPod/Phone dock. It also plays MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC 192/24, WAV 192/24, and ALAC and setting it up was generally quite easy (but see below).
Sound quality: Played through an ancient set of speakers (that are due an upgrade soon) was excellent. It seemed to lack bass at first but that seems mainly to affect lossy files (played off the iPod or at that quality on the NAS). The bass response is better when playing lossless (in my case ALAC). The web radio is good, I have yet to try it out with Spotify or last.fm.
Now the things I don't like. All reasonably minor.
First of all something really minor but annoying at the time is that the binding posts were a bit too close together for my fat fingers so wiring up the speakers wasn't as easy as it should be.
Second, there may be an iPod dock, but the system doesn't come with adaptors for the different iPod designs which is something you should get for your money given that cheap and cheerful docks that are the equivalent of a transistor radio can do it.
Now the two biggest gripes.
Finding your NAS. I'm sure that it works out of the box most of the time, but when it doesn't... Initially when setting it up finding the network was easy and it found the NAS drive (a 2TB Buffalo LinkStation Live) pretty much instantly but all that it could find on it were Windows various system noises and sample sound files that were in a backup folder. It could see the music folder but reported it as "empty". The Denon help on their website is fairly good here (I didn't have to phone them) and after a bit of trial and error I think that the issue is that the LinkStation has both a generic DLNA server and an iTunes server and this may have confused it. Certainly both needed tweaking and rebooting before the Denon would show the music files (though now that it can, everything is fine). So when/before setting it up make sure you know how to use your NAS drive's software.
The remote app (Android at least). This is great when it works, but that's about 20% of the time. Problems have included losing sight of the system (though WiFi is as WiFi does and it might not just be the App) seeing duplcate listings of tracks, seeing (and playing) only one track in an album (when using the simple remote control you could see/play them all).
All in all it does the important things well and and now that it's set up I'm very happy with all but the Android App, which isn't a deal breaker for me.
The sound is terrific and much louder than the other units I have tried, although the output wattage is similar.
Perhaps the only minor problem is that it has only one audio input connection but rather unusually it does have an optical input. The other minor gripe is that to scroll through my NAS drive it always seems to start at A and then requires going through every artist in alphabetical order without being able to jump (I haven't read the manual yet) but this is no worse than other devices
Anyway Im so impressed, I'm thinking of buying another for my office
Firstly, the concept is great! I have a Synology NAS that holds all of our music, and with one of these in the kitchen and one in the living room the convenience is great.
However, they are flaky (probably the best way of describing them) although of course the set up may have something to contribute to the issues they show (I mean that I haven't tried another media server, or other media server software on my NAS, so this a "out of the box, coupled over wifi with a Synology NAS and Q Accoustic speakers review"). Also I have a mixture of FLAC ripped and MP3 etc.
1. Tracks will stop playing in the middle.
2. Tracks will repeat for no obvious reason.
3. A track will get "stuck" as the only track it will play and next time you switch it on again that track keeps playing whatever you choose. The only solution to that is a hard reboot.
4. They will lose connection with the network "no connection available" from time to time and the only solution is a hard reboot again. (Network is wireless, SKY router in a pretty small house).
5. Not really an issue as such but something to be aware of: when you are using the Android app to control them then the majority of the controls on the unit and remote are unavailable.
6. Sound quality: I appreciate this is going to be subjective, and obviously affected by the speakers you have, and the fact that this is not high-end audiophile equipment anyway. But the sound overall is very bland and uninvolving. There is no soundscape painted in front of you (I have tried classical, rock, metal, pop and nothing creates a sound picture in between the speakers).
7. You really will have to use them with the app as trying to use the small LCD display to scroll through hundreds of albums (with no search, or "jump to" a letter of the alphabet) is useless.
8. However, the Denon app is pretty flaky too: it hangs a lot (Ok, could be my phone but it is a brand new HTC Desire 510).
9. There are many third-party apps for Android but I have not found one that doesn't have some annoyance or other, or just plain doesn't work. There are a few apps for Windows and they have their issues too.
10. They often miss the first second or so of each track. Don't know why, it's like it buffers it, starts playing and then (perhaps) brings up the volume. Annoying.
11. It will often cut off the end of a track and move to the next, usually just a few seconds before the end - weird, and annoying.
12. Time lag on the remote is awful! You press a button (with the remote a foot away from the unit and pointing right at it) and nothing happens. You push again, you push again. Of course then it executes all of the commands! Delay is typically on selecting the media (in other words accessing the NAS across the network) so in fairness it may be the NAS being slow to respond, but it will be fine one minute and then rubbish the next.
13. When you change the volume the volume slider display sometimes gets "stuck" on the screen, Powering off is the only solution.
I guess, overall I am saying that I really like these and what they promise. The problem is that they don't really live up to that promise.
Example, I had a mate round for an evening and so an opportunity to "show off" my new tech. It was an embarrassing litany of "oh, why is it playing that? oh why is it playing that AGAIN? Oh it's locked up, sorry I'll have to reboot it and re-find the network server, oh wait, let me reboot my phone!". All we wanted to do was sit down and listen to an album in its entirety!
If you feel the urge to hear a certain bit of music and grab the remote/app you may have lost interest (or forgotten what it was you wanted to listen to!) by the time you actually get to play the thing!!!
Too complicated for it's own good I feel.
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