Media Servers

Qsonix Q110 Media Server

ARTICLE INDEX

The User Interface

As I said, this is what makes the Q110 worth the several thousand dollars more in cost, compared to building a server yourself. It is really something!

When you first turn the unit on, it will go through several installation screens, including End User License Agreement, Time and Date Setup, Network Setup, CD Compression Quality Selection, and Output Configuration (which zones you want to go where, such as living room, bedroom, etc.)

That's it. You're done! Ready to load music. End of story. And, if you really want to make it easy, Qsonix works with a company called Music Giants, which will load sets of your preferred music type into the server before it's delivered. They have musicians who select the best recordings of whatever type you prefer. For me, that would be classical music from the Baroque period (1600-1750).

In any case, you will obviously have a collection of CDs of your own that you want to put onto the server. So, you just open the CD drawer, slide one in, and the interface steps you through the process. You choose a Genre, Style, Artist Name, Album Title, Track Names, and select the album cover art. A typewriter keypad appears on the screen, and you just work with it like a regular keypad. It's about half the size of a computer keypad.

Once you have loaded your CDs - and I would suggest doing this in stages, not all at once, because it is a little tedious - you will be able to scroll through all your music in several ways, and play the selections in any of the four zones, simultaneously. If you want to delete a particular CD, you bring that CD to the front main window, and then click the little triangle in the right corner next to it. That will give you a menu which you can use to prune your collection.

So, let's say you want to start up some music in Zone 1, sit down, and relax while you read. To do that, you click the button in the top left of the screen, and you will be presented with a list. Select Genre. You will then see the following screen : (Click on the various screen shots to see the larger version you can read.)

You will see all the genres in the system. Each one will have the number of CDs in that genre listed next to it. You can also just scroll through all the Albums by selecting that option from the list instead of Genre. Or, try Artists, Year, and you can search the albums too. Down at the bottom is the alphabet so you can go to album titles or artists more quickly by just pressing the letter.

Once you have some albums shown on the screen that you want, you simply drag the album itself over to the lower column on the right, the Que, or you can drag individual tracks there as well. The screen shot shows that some tracks have been moved into the Que. At the top right, are shown what are called Playlists. These are made by putting CDs and/or tracks into the Que, then clicking on the arrow at the left hand side of the Que and selecting Save All to New Playlist. You then type in the name of the playlist that you want to call it, and it will be listed in the top right column. Four such lists are there now, with the one playing called Dinner Jazz Background. You can also delete tracks or discs from playlists later on by using that same arrow button and selecting Delete Track from Playlist.

Here is another screen, showing what the screen looks like when you use Year as the selection criterion.

You can see that, yes, there will be some work you have to put into loading discs and building Playlists, but once that is done, it is just a matter of dragging the Playlist into the Que and clicking the Play button at the bottom of the screen, or on the remote control. For myself, I found that I would just go to the All list, find an album, and move it to the Que to play.

Qsonix works with Music Giants to allow you to purchase CDs on-line through their store. You set up an account, log on with a password, scroll through the albums, and purchase what you want, either by complete CD (about $14), or individual tracks (about $2 each). You click the buttons to purchase, and they are downloaded to your server, ending up listed in the appropriate Genre and the album cover art comes with it. You can then listen to the CD just as if you had loaded it from your own collection. In fact, it is part of your collection now, and you can burn it to a CD if you like, so you can listen to it in your car (or just feel secure that you have a hard copy).

I did this, downloading a new Tony Bennett album. It was on the server within about half an hour, and showed up under the Recent list. Here is a screen shot. I moved two of the tracks into the Que as an example. You can also see the two Playlists that I created at the top right, one for Christmas Music and the other for Opera.