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Sony Giga Juke NAS-SC55PKE Multi-Room Wireless Audio System - Sony Giga Juke NAS-SC55PKE
For getting music onto the Giga Juke you've got several options. You can import it, either from a PC/NAS Box connected to the network or from a USB hard drive. You can also export in the other direction for back-up purposes or, in the case of an MP3 player, for playback on the move. All these options are relatively straightforward and if you'd rather not store all your music on the Giga Juke you could stream it as well.
What's great about the Giga Juke system, however, and what sets it apart from the boutique offerings of Sonos and Logitech, is you can rip CD's directly to the internal hard drive. This makes it a great way for people less technically minded to digitise their CD collections, though the scarcity of codec options will put off more discerning users since the only choice you have is up to 256Kb/s MP3 or uncompressed Linear PCM.
Indeed, playback options are just as limited with only MP3, PCM, WMA and ATRAC supported. That means no AAC, no Flac, no OGG and absolutely no support for any of the commonly used DRM standards. As much as we dislike DRM to include no support, since it essentially rules out anyone with extensive collections of copy protected music, seems a little short sighted.
CD ripping, then, is clearly the focus so it's just as well recording is a relatively straightforward process. Track information is downloaded from Gracenote and upon hitting the 'HDD Record' button you're prompted to select the tracks you want (all are selected by default) and when recording for the first time, the desired format and bit rate if using MP3. This then becomes the default in future recordings, though it can of course be changed at a later date.
Recording speed is far superior to that of the Streamium WACS7500, which is limited to 4x speed whereas the Giga Juke reaches 16x. Recording at 256KB/s MP3 it took four minutes and 43 seconds to copy a 49 minute album. You can also listen to a CD while recording though it will lengthen the recording time; a 65 minute album took 11 minutes using the same settings with simultaneous playback.
As for sound quality, we went away largely pleased. As with the Wireless Player there's a nice sense of balance and since the speakers here are separate, the sound produced has a wider and more immersive soundstage. You also get warmer and more convincing bass tones thanks to inclusion of separate woofers and tweeters and front ported speakers. We would add, though, that deeper tones lacked a little definition and had a tendency to reverberate on some tracks. Overall, though not for audiophiles, the audible performance is good enough to please most ears.