Network Music System from Space Field

You must not get more a touchscreen Control Panel and two WIRELESS-speakers – to face, with the network music system from space field fantastic to listen to music.

Hardly a music enthusiasts can to ignore permanently the charm of a network music system with a central server – especially in terms of HiFi long no compromises are necessary. Lossless storage formats such as FLAC or Apple Lossless back up the silver disc bit by bit and bring them in original resolution to the players.

You can store the origin plastic for special occasions, nobody must carry CD stack in everyday life, struggling with crumbling folding covers, through targeted interrogation by roommates determine the whereabouts of individual recordings. Intrigued in the face of such enticements, the music fan is wondering even more that in researching affordable Network audio eigentlich only two companies meet him: Sonos and slim devices alias Logitech (for a system comparison, issue 2/2010) plow ever more fertile market for years virtually alone.

The third member of the Group

Raumfeld, the number now on three growing: the young Berlin company has, seemingly out of nowhere, a product family of server, control and playback devices brought to market, which reveal at first sight: here, someone didn’t look exactly without immediately getting a tunnel vision. The strengths of the two pioneers analyzed and deals at the same time intensely with their potential customers . Understands their wishes as command, without however slow their own creativity. While an investment concept came out that away can absorb it from the start with the established competitors.

Everything else was also doomed. Especially since space field has opted for a direct sale, which is supported by the local dealer just does not. The Room field devices are sold as freely configurable complete sets for two or three rooms online, individually or – with 10 to 15 percent discount.

It is no wonder that Logitech and Sonos remained so long left to itself: Traditional HiFi manufacturers – since special eh and recognisable on physically — often lack the know-how and the experience with virtual players, audio files, and network protocols. Because also everything that has to do with computers or other computers, still stands in the general suspicion, scrap of sound hostile to, the long-established often fearing image damages the root clientele had no interest, is time to deal with.

The founder of the space field come from the pro audio sector, where such fears never existed: Michael Hirsch and Stephan Schulz had for their previous employer of native instruments computer music instruments, complete recording studios or in combinations thereof turned. From processors, touch screens, to build hard drives and a lot of Linux software also hifi systems, is only a logical step.

Who knows the earlier works of the two, such as those of deer co-developed, legendary DJ software TRAKTOR, also suspects that the challenge in the development of the space field devices was rather in self-control as in mastering new complexity levels: next to an tractor-screen interface is the touch screen of the space field controller so quiet when it was floated by the techno-Club directly in a Zen meditation room.

Good control

The controller is the essential heart of every room box system, and he is the only thing you need to see it. Without him, a room box is not use, according to solid and suitable for long time it is constructed. Desk console enclosures look good on the coffee table and despite his size amazingly is conveniently situated in the hand; the matte plastic and the hard, smooth slice of capacitive touch screens feel very high quality.

A precise bearing volume knob, the slightly larger screen and its absolutely flush with the surface give the room field control center a little classier appearance as his equivalent of Sonos. This is a metal sleeve, but also a protruding Alu edge around the control box, which disturbs the feel a little this owes.

As already Sonos also Raumfeld, the responsiveness of the touch screen gets less precise and soft flowing out as about the Apple iPod touch. That does however not detract the unerring and instantaneous thanks to alphabetical jump bar navigation in very long lists. An Tailor-made control app for the ingenious pocket computer, as it is available for Logitech and Sonos, not there for the space field.

Space box but uses the high resolution of the touch screen and its brilliant color reproduction with a few very nice details in the screen layout you back promptly missed after switching on a Sonos, even on an iPod-driven Squeezebox. So landing the last included nine albums or radio stations as a Thumbnails on the home screen and leave from there with a finger tip recalled.

Also the small waveform display window at the bottom of the screen on which you can pass a graphical implementation of the currently playing music see is practical. About 5 seconds the snippet shows where the “now” line sits in the middle of the window: you can see right off the bat, whether in the selected zone just something wrong can very roughly estimate level of modulation and dynamics. Tapping on the wave pattern, an overview of current zones, where you can go from room to room or combine several rooms into groups – clustered Raumfeld Player play as Sonos and Logitech, opens completely synchronously. This helps to avoid bizarre echo effects in party sound reinforcement.

In-house server

Data receives and sends the controller via Wi-FI. Normally the ‘base’ also included in every room box set builds on this network, the controller automatically connects with her. The base is much more than a radio station but: is a universal server, which builds a common collection of music data of from different sources and offers it all connected players. Internally, the base holds 160 gigabyte hard disk space according to about 450 CDs in Lossless storage. Who does not come out or already has a hard drive music collection, simply communicated the network address of his music camp to the base. All the rest, so the scanning, sorting and indexing, extracting the cover designs and so on, does the base with their own server intellect and at an impressive pace: the base had researched the 12,000 title on the AUDIO-listening room-NAS spotlessly for about an hour.

Reminded in his independence of external computing power the space field to the Sonos system, but whose skills goes beyond: like the Californian model the space field works with any, even older, cheap and less powerful NAS disk. In addition, the Berlin system but also directly Connected USB plates or sticks can incorporate into his repertoire. Whether they come from the internal, USB or network storage, no longer looking at the albums and songs in the common list view. The base can plunder virtually even existing UPnP Media Server – actually insane (because the direct scan is faster and yields better results) and useful rather than emergency wheel about to bypass hyperactive Windows firewalls or missing access rights to the actual file folder.

The huge musical offering of on-demand service Napster is perfectly integrated into the navigation – but now see an extra button. Like the Logitech and Sonos systems, each new room field contains a 30-day trial subscription, after which access to the currently approximately 10 million Napster songs without further obligations dries up quietly. Unless the owner or a family member want to actually for about 10 euros month paying Napsterkunde – what happens as experience with Sonos shows, surprisingly often.

Napster MP3 and HD-FLAC

While Napster with its neat-sounding, according to high standards but suboptimal 128-kb/s streams in everyday life for diversity provides and gives the sovereign Wunschkonzert feeling the user, to no, really desire to be embarrassed no music, room box ensures an adequate counterweight at the other end of the resolution scale: FLACs 24-bit, 96 kilohertz run not only on the system, they may prove even their Sonic superiority. Although the connector space box looks more with its antenna, and the power supply such as a network router, it – sounds like a fully-fledged Hi-Fi connectable analog via RCA and digital via coax or TOSlink. And always good enough to evoke the sound of soft, elegant, once owned the security stereo tracks of the defunct DVD-audio format, which some on the AUDIO server is available.

A special feature of the zero series impeded the direct comparison of the hearing, but already changed in the next revision supposed: the developer-oriented at the output level at the old 0.775 volts standard today otherwise observed no one. Typical CD or network players deliver more than double the value, which although not a quality characteristic, but just a fact. Placed on the same volume, the German sneaker could create effortlessly with the Squeezebox Touch , whose production version arrived almost simultaneously in the listening room. Whether you now prefer a highly competent, the crisp, accurate style of the space field of connectors or the minimal softer, more sensual in the Squeezebox – with CD players of the 100 points class of comparable NetWorker to take so or so with home.

Competence and short distances seem to characterize also the Development Department of space field: a few weeks after the first visit of Berlin in the Newsroom the programmer had removed the only serious criticism and instilled the system the ability to gapless playback. Live albums, operas and DJ mixes run as they are intended by the artists and how they do it on the original CD just as well without any interruption.

Also a bug on the server, which left some FLAC files with error messages has been fixed over the weekend with a new firmware.

WLAN boxes from Adam

While the Connector integrates existing systems in the field of space, the two models of boxes open speaker S and speaker M HiFi technically pristine rooms alone. Player, network intelligence and reinforcement are incorporated into each a speaker which is other than passive sound slave supplies with his active brother. This works very balanced at the Small S-model, if largely free of real bass – the best speakers for shelf placement in rather small rooms.

Really seriously, the speaker M looks next to it for its development and production no less, to responsible draws ADAM audio as the Berlin Studio supplier. The M has ADAM A5Xdriver equipment, in turn the professional nurse of the A5, which 9/08 outstanding section in AUDIO: a five inch bass out of carbon fiber, glass fiber and Rohacell and the ADAM-style ART tweeter with its folded Ribbon membrane – driver material at its finest, which operated here but not fully active, but with only a power amplifier per channel. The lower power and the additional load of the passive crossover affect especially the maximum level, which lags significantly behind the ADAM-original. Tonal effect speaker M convinced something milder and softer than his Studio role model, but how he does this with striking accuracy, natural and finely differentiated tone colors – only slightly more coolly tackle everything, what more normally delights the living room recording engineer seeking relaxation as a bother.

Setup button

Stress should not come up even with the establishment of the system. Although the terms “Network” and “idiot proof” will never fit together, room field caused at least within the own system a Plug and play, that is worthy of the name: all components unpack, build and power – that everybody gets out. With each other to organise the Space field components at your fingertips: choose on the controllers “new base”, press Setup button on the base, wait half a minute, it’s done. Then the player or speaker login: “Space configuration” open, press the “add”, press the button on the device. Most fantasy still requires finding an appropriate name for the zone and enter it using the virtual QWERTY keyboard. Then everything should go actually, at least once by Napster and Internet radio.

The base – in operation by the way almost silently and full living room suitable for – enters your home network in appearance like a normal NAS record, can thus be filled in Windows as a network drive and appears in the Mac Finder as a share. It points the way to an existing NAS by entering the IP address of the base at “Music resources” and, where appropriate, selection of the desired subfolder – who has ripped CDs and managed to copy them on a NAS may feel more than sufficiently qualified for it. Who keeps computer of sound hostile works of the devil, has in any case not to read with this far – what is really a shame. Because network audio has won a crucial portion of straight sex appeal: In the decisive three-digit price range are now all good, working things three.

Conclusion

An important part of the fun factor for network systems is their continuous development. A Sonos set by 2006 is still smarter, prettier and more functional than four years ago, although the hardware is the same. It buys so not only one device at a time, but is also investing in the future of creativity and performance of the manufacturer’s. I trust room box according to what I heard from the company, some wonderful surprises.