So, by now you've got everything setup. You've ripped your CDs, imported your music collection and arranged everything just so: time for a party? Great though listening to any music you like around the house is, the ability to listen to same track wherever you are is even cooler and this is where the 'Party Mode' comes in.
It couldn't be simpler to use, either. Simply activate the 'Party Mode' on the Music Server, select the music you want to play, and all the Wireless Players connected will immediately begin to play: simple as that. It's a shame that you can only control playback from the host device, but this doesn't tarnish what is otherwise a brilliant and well executed system.
This isn't the Giga Juke's only party trick, however. Another key mode is x-DJ and it's rather interesting. Ostensibly it's an automatic playlist system but it's a lot more advanced than anything you might find in a media player, since it actually analyses your music and then categorises it according to Feel, Style and also 'Scenes' - including filters for workout music for walking or running. Other filters include 'Fine Day' and 'Rainy Day' in the 'Feel' category and 'Extreme' and 'Acoustic' in the 'Style' category and there are many more.
For the most part it works very well. During playback you can use the remote, both on the Music Server and the Wireless Player, to request tracks from the same artist, of a similar mood or from the same year and album. Occasionally we found tracks that didn't seem to fit their categories, such as a rather raucous Queens of the Stone Age track in the 'Vocal' playlist, but largely track selections were true to their description.
It's a shame, though, that x-DJ has one semi-fatal flaw. Before x-DJ can work properly tracks must be scanned and it takes a long time; 18 minutes for a 65 minute album to be precise. So, if you're planning to archive a large CD or MP3 collection and use x-DJ, you'll need to set aside a lot of time to do it!
This and a few other niggles, like the poor quality remote and limited codec support, take a little shine off the Giga Juke Multi-Room package. Yet it also gets a lot of things right. It's easy to setup and use and it offers a great and comprehensive mix of features and functionality; besting the competition from Philips in most departments. Most importantly, though, short of purchasing additional Wireless Players, it's a complete system and this in itself is very attractive.
A shortage of codec support and one or two issues preclude the Sony Giga Juke NAS-SC55PKE from a complete recommendation and will put off those looking for an open and flexible system. If you can accept these limitations, however, it offers a complete solution for digitising your CD collection and enjoying music anywhere in the home.