Meridian Sooloos

Perhaps some of you have been in a relationship I'll define as being of the - I guess this as good as it gets - variety. Why we settle is debatable and more than likely tied up in a bunch of stuff including simply being lazy. If we're lucky or fortunate, your choice, we happen upon someone that snaps us out of our settled-for-less state. And we live happily ever after (or so I'd like to believe).

And so it goes with many of us and our media player of choice and many of us choose iTunes. I did because as an interface on and into our music, it's good. Damn good, maybe even as good as one could want (sound quality aside. I'm talking purely about the interface). But then...

I've been hearing and reading about the Meridian Sooloos for some time but I had not experienced it for myself until this CES 2012 in the Meridian room. Writing about a graphical user interface (GUI) is like drawing a portrait of time; the medium misses the message. So I'll dispose of an attempt to walk you through what appears to be among the most intuitive and elegant GUIs I've experienced and simply say that the Meridian Sooloos system appears to be among the most intuitive and elegant GUIs I've experienced. Period. As a view into your stored and streamed music it also appears to be light years ahead of anything else I've ever experienced. Period.

Before stating this as a matter of fact, that a small group of people have out-interfaced Apple Inc. which is to my way of thinking much more compelling than some little guy throwing rocks at some bigger guy, I will stick to more cautious language until I get my eye/hand album-loving coordination into it.

The Entry-level Meridian Soolos system consists of the Meridian Media Core 200 ($4,000 pictured on the right front standing vertically) that includes a 500GB internal hard drive and the new Sooloos GUI that runs on an iPad. The 17" touchscreen endowed all-in-one Control 15 system ($7,500) also includes a 500GB internal hard drive and disc drive for ripping. There are additional storage solutions without limit as to storage size (one customer setup includes 20TB of storage) and the multi-room setup allows for up to 60 rooms (sorry).

COMMENTS
deckeda's picture

And if memory serves was introduced even before we saw "Cover Flow" and so on appear in iTunes. First time I saw that or the big album icons in iTunes I thought, "ooh, poor man's Sooloos." Or perhaps I'm misremembering the order of events. 

So now Pathos has a similar-looking thing? And were there others, or does it seem as if the iPad is gonna just be the screen for these things?

 

 

 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

Even in the Sooloos room. I did not see any other large touchscreen-based solutions like the Sooloos or Pathos.

And yes, for any product that incorporates a user interface for serving music we are at the point that there must be an app for that and I think it's safe to say that the iPad is the interface of choice.

jazzfan's picture

I have large digital music library (more than 250K tracks) and I use the Squeezebox family of streaming devices to play and manage my music library. While Squeezebox Server does a good job of cataloging the music and maintaining and building a database, based on the tags I provide for the files, the default web interface is pretty much useless - slow and limited. Therefore I use several third party music library control/interfaces instead of the SBS web interface.

One is Moose, which works with it's own version of the SBS music database to provide fast searches. Moose displays and controls what is playing on any given Squeezebox and works on any one of the computers around my house.

Another one I use is Muso, which is similar to Moose but provide less control over the players but does have a better interface. Muso's interface uses the cover art I provide along with ability to access other web based (Last.fm and Amazon.com) sources to present more information than either Moose or the default web SBS interface. Muso even allows one to view other artwork (jpgs or PDFs) which one may have of given album. I've also requested that Muso be able to display simple text files since many times I have useful information about an album saved into an information text file.

For those users with iPhones, iTouchs and iPads there are several third party apps which allow one's iDevice to both control the Squeezebox devices and display the music library. Of these apps iPeng is the most popular and based on my limited exposure to IPeng (since I don't own any iDevices) very easy to use with a very nice interface.

While the Sooloos interface is still the one to beat I believe that other developers are beginning to catch up and hopefully in the near future there will other, less expensive alternatives, to the Sooloos system.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

I had a number of conversations with people who are more familiar with Sooloos and the overwhelming gist appears to be that the interface very quickly recedes into the background and you are left interacting with your music library, no matter the size, seamlessly. And the learning curve is nearly non-existent.

Another interesting aspect of this conversation is metadata. You mention having more than 250K tracks and entering some data yourself. Even is this only holds for a % of your library, people should realize the time/effort involved in organizing a library. This may not be an issue for smaller collections, but once we get into the thousands of tracks, mismanaged music due to insufficient or incorrect metadata can make browsing, finding and filtering nearly impossible.

jazzfan's picture

"Another interesting aspect of this conversation is metadata. You mention having more than 250K tracks and entering some data yourself. Even is this only holds for a % of your library, people should realize the time/effort involved in organizing a library. This may not be an issue for smaller collections, but once we get into the thousands of tracks, mismanaged music due to insufficient or incorrect metadata can make browsing, finding and filtering nearly impossible."

Truer words have never been spoken. Keeping on top tags and metadata is work, lots of work. The better and more consistent one's tags and metadata, the better able one will be to manage one's digital music library. There are several programs and systems currently available to help one work with tags and metadata but even the best programs, the one's that automatically gather tags and metadata via the internet, still require that one manually check the tags and metadata for accuracy and conformity to one's given system of organization.

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