My PC has a 1TB hard drive and a large library of music ripped onto it. Probably >800 CD’s ripped so far. Not as many as some I’m sure, but still it’s a fair amount of FLAC. An ideal music server then for my Squeeze box and DAC? Well, yes and no. If we’ve recently vacuumed the fans it’s not bad, there is enough of a divide between the Dining room (which houses my PC) and the Living room (which houses my HiFi) that the PC is all but inaudible unless listening to Radio 3, which, as far as I’ve ever been able to tell broadcasts mainly silence. Don’t get me wrong, I like Radio 3, especially when the kids are being noisy as I can turn Radio 3 right up and let the silence drown out their noise. I’ll leave you to ponder that.. Back on topic, the problem arises when the fan gets dusty and the PC is busy, it sounds like the old Dover to Calais hover craft at full speed. The subtleties of the latest Teleportation Tweak from Machina Dynamica can be somewhat lost against the back ground noise from the fans spinning like the Enola Gay preparing for take off in my dining room.
I have long been looking for a quieter alternative. This is the first device I’ve had a chance to try as a potential solution and I have had a largely positive experience with it so far. The Audio Glu (I really don’t like the name and don’t understand it) has no fan. It makes no
noise at all. What it does have is either a 1tb or 2tb hard drive, supports UPnP, and connects to a DAC via USB or S/PDIF optical. USB DACs are automatically configured when connected. My Cambridge DAC magic locked on straight away and never skipped a beat.
You simply feed it CD’s through the front loading car audio style slot and it rips, checks, downloads tags and album art and converts to FLAC in about 5 minutes. It then ejects the CD automatically. You can also drag your files across to the Audio Glu’s shared network storage. And if you plug a USB hard drive of suitable size into one of the front USB ports, the Audio Glu automatically backs itself up to the drive. They really have thought of everything. It’s all so simple. It will work with a variety of tablet and mobile controllers such as MPaD, MPoD, MPDroid, Kinsky, Sonos etc.
I found the MPod app for Android hugely pinikity and lacking in functionality. No “Play Album” option seems crazy. Android has by far the Lion’s share of the mobile and tablet market, yet the app seemed to be something of an after thought compared to the Apple version. Out of frustration I loaded it onto my daughters’ iPod and that works very nicely indeed. The layout is simple and intuitive and you can see where the developer’s loyalties lie in terms of favoured OS. If I decide to buy the Audio Glu as my server, I will have to factor in the cost of an iPad mini to drive it with I feel. Although expensive for a remote, the software is so nice it might just be worth it. Apple owners will of course have no extra costs.
So how much pain is it to configure? I did wonder how idiot proof this Linux box would be. The procedure went as follows:
Plug it into the wall.
Plug it into DAC.
Plug it into router (no Wi-Fi on this model).
Rip or copy music to it. (See above)
Install suitable app on phone.. give up on clunky half arsed app, steal daughters iPad/iPod install app on that.
Then, it just works. Totally painless and almost entirely idiot proof. Brilliant! Totally brilliant.
Frustrated as I was with the Android app, I have to say I am still rather tempted by this. At around £900.00 for the 1TB version, plus an iPAd and a UPS (you don’t want this to lose power in a power cut really), it’s still a sensibly priced device. There were never any issues with sound quality, it delivers a bit perfect stream in total silence, it rips quickly (unless the CD is damaged) and has no real negative features that I could discover.
I would recommend it highly to anyone looking for some really simple network storage, bear in mind you can access it from any PC or MAC to play files from too, not just for your DAC. It’s very good and I may well go for this as the solution to my own noisy PC problem.
Contact Ian and AudioGlu for more information: www.audioglu.com
Discuss the review here