Brennan JB7 Digital Jukebox - Brennan JB7

By Jonathan Bray

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Once you've ripped a few discs, browsing is straightforward too. The bright blue display uses the same vacuum fluorescent display as the Logitech Squeezebox and its large lettering makes flipping through albums, songs and artist names a joy - no more squinting from the sofa. You can do the expected digital music stuff, such as shuffling tracks and browsing by album, plus there's a text search, which works brilliantly for when you get bored of browsing, title-by-title.

Bizarrely, though, despite the onboard database, which catalogues genres, artist names, composers and so on, the JB7 only lets you search and browse by track and album name. And you can't manually name tracks either. Apart from this, the only thing the JB7 is in need of is a decent remote control - it's grid of blister buttons makes it extremely difficult to use straightaway until you've got used to it.

It's a shame as the rest of the system is luxuriously well-appointed, and is as well-designed as the interface is easy-to-use. It looks and feels smart with its rubberised grey casing and electric-blue aluminium front plate, and practical features abound. The front panel is adorned with a large, clickable knob used to select and browse music, and for adjusting the volume when music is playing. Other controls are limited to four buttons for play/stop, eject, and skipping back and forth through tracks.

There's also a USB socket on the left edge of the front panel for not only hooking up an MP3 player, external hard disk or thumb drive, but also to back up the music you have stored on the JB7 to an external hard disk and load music the other way. If you already have your music ripped to disk, this is a great time saver, though it's worth noting that the Brennan is restricted in the format of music files it will play back - only MP3s are supported.

But do you want to know the best bit about the Brennan JB7? It's the sheer size of the thing. Incredibly, all these features are packed into a chassis just over one-and-a-half times the width of a CD (220mm) and a mere 48mm high. It's a great box for anyone with a penchant for minimalism, or who can't afford a spacious, four-bedroom house.

And I haven't yet reached the end of the JB7's feature list. Packed into its tiny frame, along with the hard disk, is a 30W per channel amplifier and a set of spring clip terminals on the rear panel to hook up a pair of standard speakers - basically, all you need for your digital music system. The rear panel also boasts a 3.5mm headphone output, 3.5mm line-out and, handily, a 3.5mm stereo aux in. The latter enables you to record that analogue source direct to MP3.

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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