AVA RS3 review

The AVA is a powerful Network Attached Storage device with its own disc drive that works a treat with leading media players Tested at £820.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Very impressive: it might seem expensive, but for user-friendliness and effectiveness it's perfectly judged. A one-terabyte version is also available for £645


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    Easy to use, silent in operation and blessed with considerable capacity: an ideal music source for any decent media player


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    Nothing of note

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The AVA RS3 is a simple music server that complements all the leading media players, including the Linn Sneaky DS, Slim Devices Transporter and the Sonos BU150. It's DLNA certified too, so your PlayStation 3, Network AV receiver and even TV can share content from it.

The AVA is a powerful Network Attached Storage box, or NAS. However, unlike some rivals, it also incorporates its own disc drive, making it self-contained.

True, you'll need a PC to 'introduce' the system into your network, but once it's set up there's no subsequent need for a computer at all, so long as the AVA can access the internet.

What you will need is some sort of music controller, such as the handsets supplied with the Squeezebox Duet or Sonos.

Automatically reads data from your CDs
Getting started is straightforward: just insert your CD into the slot loader, and the RS3 will automatically extract track information and album art from either the AMG, MusicBrainz or Freedb databases before storing your music in the file format of your choice: Flac, WMA Lossless or Apple Lossless.

It comes in either one or two-terabyte forms, each of which is made up of two hard-disk drives (2 x 500GB or 2 x 1TB).

It's up to you how you configure these drives: they can be set either to duplicate each other – creating a back-up of your content should one drive fail – or to use every last gig for your music.

The max-storage option tested here gives enough space for 3200 CDs in Flac, which ought to keep you going. If not, there are four USB sockets on the back for additional offboard hard-disks.

Rips MP3 files for your portable player
Usefully, since file formats of this size are a 'heavy load' for many an iPod, the RS3 will also make a 320kbps MP3 format version for your portable player, although you can turn this feature off if you don't want to use it.

Quite apart from the simplicity of its installation and the silence of its operation, the AVA RS3 is ultra-fast: flicking from Flac to Flac on our Linn Sneaky DS was instantaneous, and there's no hint of fan noise to spoil the party. All told, this is an exceptional solution for digital music storage.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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