Olive 06HD review

This formidable music server makes a serious rival to Meridian and Naim Tested at £4500

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The new Olive is a triumph: it’s a worthy rival to the class leaders from Meridian and Naim


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    Formidable specification

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    high standards of build and finish

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    brilliant ergonomics

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    first-class sound


  • -

    No self-contained provision for hard-disk back-up of your music, but that’s cheap to resolve

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As CD sales continue to slump, it’s no surprise that music servers are increasingly important components for hi-fi enthusiasts.

Of course, you can store music on a PC or Mac and use a media streamer such as the Naim NDX, but some will prefer the convenience, quality and style of a music server.

And those descriptions certainly apply to the Olive 06HD: this 2TB design has capacity for up to 6000 albums, and it performs every bit as well as it looks.

Beauty is more than skin-deep
Of course, those looks are key to another major asset of the 06HD – its 10.1in screen is an ergonomic delight – but what lies beneath is almost as compelling.

Solidly constructed from aluminium, the Olive includes separate power supplies for its analogue and digital sections, a custom-built toroidal power supply and high-grade capacitors throughout.

The 2TB hard-drive is cushioned by eight layers of noise-cancelling padding and cooled by a fanless passive venting system – so mechanical noise is kept to an absolute minimum.

And specially designed vibration-resistant feet allow the Olive’s chassis to ’float’, helping to decouple it from the effects of external vibrations.

Dedicated headphone DAC
As you’d expect, the digital-to-analogue conversion is just as potent. The 06HD uses a fully balanced differential DAC design based on 24-bit/192kHz Burr-Brown PCM1792 DACs, plus an additional, dedicated 1792 specifically for the headphone output.

Add an ultra-low-jitter master clock, a Texas Instruments SRC4194 Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter and an extensive array of high-quality audio outputs, and it’s plain that the 06HD means business.

It sounds great, too. High-resolution music works best, of course: the Olive comes preloaded with 10 tracks in 24-bit/176.4kHz quality, and will support content up to 24-bit/192kHz. Listening to these high-res files, there’s a terrific sense of transparency (even with complex instrumentation) and dynamic range.

Imaging and timing satisfy
Switching to ripped CD-quality files isn’t quite so stunning, of course, but it’s still hugely impressive, with the Olive’s imaging and timing satisfying on every level.

It isn’t as fleet-of-foot or unreservedly dynamic as the Naim NDX, but there’s genuine warmth and musicality to its sound that we’d imagine many listeners will find just as compelling.

And with its network streaming (via wired or wireless links) and internet radio, you’ve a complete, utterly desirable alternative to a regular CD player.

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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.

Read more about how we test