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Brennan JB7 Digital Jukebox review

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Brennan JB7 Digital Jukebox
  • Brennan JB7 Digital Jukebox
  • Brennan JB7 Digital Jukebox
  • Brennan JB7 Digital Jukebox
  • Brennan JB7 Digital Jukebox
  • Brennan JB7 Digital Jukebox
  • Brennan JB7 Digital Jukebox

Summary

Our Score:

7

Until the iPod came along and turned 'ripping' from something that applied to fishermen's yarns to something you did with a CD, digital music was the premise of the computer enthusiast. Obviously a lot has changed since the first Apple portable players were brought out in 2001, but still, it seems, the impact of Apple's player has yet to make a serious impact on the world of 'proper' hi-fi.

Obviously, there are plenty of iPod hi-fi systems on the market, and some are very good. Check out Riyad's review of the B&W Zeppelin, which coupled great design with wonderful sound quality. I was also impressed with Fatman's iTube system when I reviewed it at the end of last year - a valve amplifier with an iPod dock attached.

But not everyone owns an iPod, and using one as your main hi-fi isn't a particularly great way to browse music from the sofa - the screen is fine from a metre away, but sit on the sofa and you'll struggle to make out what's going on the 2.5in screen of an iPod Classic.

As an alternative, I think you'd struggle to match the simplicity and elegance of the Brennan JB7. Now I'd always prefer to use an audio streamer to listen to my digital music collection, pumping a digital signal out through a DAC to my amp and speakers, but that adds a layer of complication (and mess) that most people simply can't be bothered with. This device keeps it simple, allowing you to rip CDs directly to its internal hard disk and listen to them from there.

And it's as easy a device to use as the original iPod. Minutes after plugging it in and hooking it up to a pair of speakers I had ripped a couple of CDs and was happily listening away to them. All you do is pop a disc into the slot-loading drive, hit the big round button on the front and a few minutes later the JB7 will have compressed and transferred the tracks directly to the device's hard disk drive. A mighty impressive performance from a component this small.

You get the option to rip CDs in uncompressed state, at 320Kbit/sec, 192Kbit/sec or 128Kbit/sec, and with a built-in music database from CDDB, the device should recognise most CDs' titles artists and track names without recourse to the remote control's keypad. It struggled with a couple of newer discs I stuck in but you can manually name albums, which doesn't take long, and updating the database is a simple matter of downloading the ISO image from FreeDB, burning it to a blank CD-R and sticking it into the device's CD drive.

Adrian Bevan

April 16, 2009, 7:02 pm

A great review for a great piece of kit. However there are a couple inaccuracies which I would like raise. First of all it is a simple process to name and edit individual track titles. The second point is that the composer and artist name, by convention,forms a part of the album title (up to 64 characters). This means that by entering the first 3 or 4 letters of a composer/artist in 'Album Search' will find your artist - beet will take you to Beethoven.





Adrian Bevan


3GA Ltd

michael beason

July 16, 2012, 6:41 pm

I purchased the Jb7 2 years ago, and i can say its a very good product and i would suggest it to anyone. A bit on the expensive side but for what it does its definitely worth every penny.

ArthurS

August 17, 2012, 9:10 pm

The Brennan JB7 is a great piece of kit. In fact I have two 500G models. Unfortunately the service offered is dire and seems over automated, it's either find out what to do yourself from their online database or send it back for repair. No human touch allowed. I have asked two questions, one wasn't responded to for 2 weeks and said to ask for help again, by which time I'd sorted it out the second was responded to inside a minute saying send it back for repair. This isn't good enough and will eventually be enough to cripple sales to the point where they couldn't afford to provide a genuinely helpful technical support service. I have been recommending the Brennan to friends etc. No more I'm afraid, I'd have to say I will do so no longer.

Grahame

March 4, 2014, 5:14 pm

I've had mine for three years, I don't find it at all user friendly (particularly if you want to find a specific track) and have had to have it repaired twice, once for sound then a disc error. It's a great idea, but I just don't think the product is quite there yet, it feels like it needs fine tuning so to speak.

Dave K

May 27, 2014, 3:54 am

After I load the discs, it somehow inserts 'you' before the track name and after the disc name. For example the song South City Midnight Lady reads as (you - South City Midnight Lady). Any advice? Thanks

Dave Oliver

July 24, 2014, 9:58 am

I agree. I would no longer recommend.
In the early days Martin Brennan appeared to have a passion for the unit. Mind is 5 years old
I cannot get a response from their technical support to repair a fault.

Dave Oliver

July 24, 2014, 10:08 am

I do not recommend you purchase this unit. It is a specialized peace of kit and as such can only be repaired by Brennan UK
In the early days Martin Brennan appeared to have a passion for the unit. Mine is 5 years old
I cannot get a response from their technical support to repair a fault. I note below another user is finding the same issue

Bob howell

July 26, 2014, 6:40 pm

I wouldn't recommend one of these units to anyone. I bought one just over three years ago and it has just broken down for the fourth time. Brennan are happy to repair them at a cost of about £50 a time which will make them a very expensive system over a few years. Thankfully, I kept my CD collection and have decided now that the Brennan unit is of such poor quality that it just isn't worth spending any more time or money on and I have gone back to a CD player. The sound quality is much better and I'm sure it will be a great deal more reliable. If you have, or are considering buying one of these units DO NOT GET RID OF YOUR CD COLLECTION. you WILL eventually want to go back to them.

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