The Brennan JB7

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RE: The Brennan JB7

Richard3 wrote:

Surely there's really no such thing as "lossless" digital - any digital system works by taking samples. If you take samples, you haven't really got everything, have you?

I guess many people think this is the case, but actually thanks to Mr Nyquist and Mr Shannon you do not lose any information at all from the original up to half the sampling frequency (just over 22 kHz for a CD's sampling rate).

 

RE: The Brennan JB7

I've just caught up with the many posts that have now accumulated on this subject since March last year, and feel that my in initial hesitation has been justified.  Meanwhile, I found a cheaper and space-saving solution to large collections: to buy the 'narrow' double CD boxes to re-house two individual CDs (halving the space required) and either correct or simply make new  spine labels .  So, my 10 volumes of Beethoven sonatas fit neatly into five double CD boxes.

RE: The Brennan JB7

Just to add my two pence worth, I use a mix of analogue and digital sources. But for the simplicity of streaming music, I invested in a QNAP NAS drive, which is on my wireless network, has hot swappable drives, backs up in Raid 0,1 & 5, a 500mhz internal processor and memory. At present I have 1TB that is backed up (4x 500Gb hard disks. I stream music through a Roku Soundbridge which may be a bit old hat (5 years old now) which is put through my Linn Majik system. All the CDs I've ripped are at now less than 320K. The QNAP also allows me to store films which I can stream through my laptops and my Samsung LED TV.

RE: The Brennan JB7

I've just joined the thread having read some really interesting stuff. I'm a mid-range audiophile I guess, like other contributors. I've got/had hi-fi bits from Goodmans, Marantz, Denon, Amstrad, JPW, but lost my decent deck a few months ago. I've bought a cheapie deck, just to be getting on with, and decided to invest in the Brennan instead, and go down the digital route.

It's not perfect - what is - but it does seem to do exactly what it says on the tin. I'm getting on, too - 57 - and can't be ars*d to learn lots of new techie stuff - and don't want the hassle or eyesore of bits of computer kit and wires cluttering up my living room, nor having to go to a PC screen, or tiny ipod, to fire up my music. But equally, I was getting fed up finding and sorting out CDs, vinyl, tapes - and trying to remember which music on what.

Most CDs are recognised and load up fine (in 3 minutes if that), and while the classical database/index is a bit of a bind, how could classical titles be anything other than long-winded? And it is dead easy to find things - it's like an "Edit-find" search facility in a Word or Excel file - type in a few letters, and it gives you the various options. The relatively few seconds it takes to scroll and choose between them is loads quicker than scrabbling around your shelves and boxes, etc - only to remember that you've lent that CD out, after all; and of course the reverse - you can also add all your mates/relatives music on to it, too - for free (allegedly).

As regards loading vinyl, this is always going to be longer than CDs - it has to be done in real time, unavoidably, and no database will recognise the recording for you automatically, so you'll have to label manually. But it seems fairly straightforward to do - although the aux-in connections do seem a bit sensitive to "tripping out". After trial and error, I've used the phono plugs line-out, with a jack plug combination lead, not the headphone out - and from the deck itself, NOT the amp outlet.

On sound quality - I've never heard MP3 files before, so compared only with my system quality, the normal 198 bit rate compression seems to me completely unnoticeable, other than on some quiet acoustic guitar, or string quartet pieces; but just different, not poor; every combination of system I've ever had sounds different.

The biggest bugbear is the Brennan is a great-looking piece of kit, and has a lovely clear screen telling you what's going on - just right for us "oldies" - but then has a miniscule remote - far smaller than a TV or hi-fi remote! (So you have to have your glasses to hand at a dinner party and even turn the lights up, if you want to find a set piece of music!) Bizarre juxtaposition of ergonomic/rubbish design. Other than that, so far I have no complaints, and its convenience/useability/quality/value for money is all that it's said to be, I reckon. Which is what I think the original contributors were asking about.

RE: The Brennan JB7

I'm looking forward to transferring treasured vinyl via a Linn Sondek; so these exchanges are very helpful.

I'm new to the JB7, however, and I'm in the middle of loading CDs. The options seem more suited to non-classical, since (unless I'm mistaken) they seem to be largely track-based. I'm thinking in particular of the setting up of playlists - where I had thought it would be done on an *album* basis. I'd be grateful if + experienced users could confirm that there is no way to do this ? And, if that is indeed the case, could someone explain - before I embark - how transferred tracks are then reassembled into albums ? [My fear is that a List will end up 'piped', track by track, from Albinoni through to Vivaldi!]

 

RE: The Brennan JB7 RE: The Brennan JB7

Kev, sorry for the delay in replying.  I don't have a Brennan so don't usually read this thread.

I don't know about MediaMonkey or 4.7gb DVDs so can't help there. 
Hopefully someone else can - although it's been a long time since your
post so perhaps not.

I only rip (and download) in FLAC to a Network Attached Storage device (a Ripnas) and have an external disc drive attached to that which backs up automatically on a regular basis (my wife and technical advisor tells me).  I think it scans every night and adds anything new it finds.  We are advised to have another so we can keep one off site for added security.  It's on order now.

And whilst I write, I struggle to see why one would compress music to mp3 when lossless FLAC is quite clearly better and just as convenient.  It seems like burning bridges to me, but then perhaps I'm missing something. 

Digital streaming of music stored via FLAC, in 16bit, let alone 24bit, is stunning to me, and competes on almost equal terms with the best that vinyl on my Sondek LP12 can deliver.  But there you go.  Each to his own.

Vic.

RE: The Brennan JB7

I'm fascinated how many people delight in detailing what the Brennan jb7 CAN'T do!  It's like setting out to buy a car when your main requirement is that you want it to fly!  I bought one in December 2009 with the intention of digitising a massive collection of vinyl and tapes, alongside some 120 cds. The cds were a doddle - the jb7 did exactly what I expected it to without any hassle at all.  On the odd occasion that one wasn't recognised by the database I simply plugged in a keyboard via the usb connector and typed in the artist/title/tracklisting.  No problem there, either.

The tapes and vinyl were much more labour intensive, however, and I do believe that some of Brennans marketing focus on this aspect glosses over  the difficulties that users will encounter.  The user manual is virtually useless in telling how to do it, and Brennan's website little better!

The transfer can only be conducted in real time - a C90 cassette will require 90 minutes ........ at least!

Unless you are happy to lose the search and find facilities for the tracks and artists etc., you will have to record each track seperately.  That means stopping the recording at the end of track one and then starting again for track 2 etc.  Your presence will be required therefore throughout the recording time, and the stopping and starting will add about 20 minutes to the 90....!

Then the album will have to be renamed, and each track will need to be retitled.  Even using a keyboard this will take another 30 minutes in a straightforward case.  For something like a compilation album when each track is also by a different artist, then add another 20 minutes, perhaps. Don't even think of doing it with the remote control via textspeak!

I estimated that each C90 tape took me  about 2.5 hours to complete, while an vinyl album took around 90 minutes.  My collection took me a year to complete, working in bursts. I am convinced that this is a cd storage system with the capacity to record tape and vinyl added as an afterthought, even though that was my main reason for buying it

Then it was wonderful! I could find any track or artist using the search facility which is simplicity itself to use, despite what earlier post say.  I can browse through the album collection, or simply play things at random.  I can compile up to seven playlists. If I don't want to listen to what is selected I simply press 'next' and away we go again. It will play on and on for hours at the press of a single button.   

The sound quality is good using Brennan's speakers and their recommended external hard drive did all the backing up effectively, although it did take many, many hours. 

One major listening problem has emerged.  It appears that the volume of sound varies enormously between recordings, even modern ones on different cds or from mp3 downloads. So some tracks are almost inaudible and need the volume turned up, while the next track at that volume is overwhelming and requires a panicky reduction!  Not a problem when listening to a complete album perhaps, when one adjustment suffices, but using 'random play' certainly keeps me on my toes and my finger busy on the remote!

However, the ease of use means that I've listened to far more of my music than ever before.  I've discovered and enjoyed stuff which has been long forgotten and unheard. Now it is all digitised I can save to other devices easily for use in the car, my mp3 player or simply to take with me on a memory stick when I travel.  

Two days ago an electrician threw the main power switch to the house and then switched it back on without warning us! (He has now been sacked) Even though the Brennan was not in use and simply in stand by mode, its 3 amp fuse in the mains plug blew, and further investigation discovered that the internal fuse in the transformer had also blown. Even though it is now out of guarantee, Brennan with a just a little prodding, decided to supply me with a new transformer free of charge, which I await.  Only when it arrives will I discover if any further damage has been inflicted.  Thank heaven I backed everything up!  Now I'm pondering what is the difference between switching the electrical supply off and on at the mains board, or doing so at the socket?  Since the Brennan has no on/off switch, just how else do I switch it on and off without blowing the fuses? This is a problem I've passed to Brennan and I await their answer!  Seems to me I've discovered another design fault.

From my own experience and from other posts here, I believe that much more development work was required before rushing it to the market place. Using it and sometimes seeking help and advice from Brennan has made me feel somewhat like a pioneer testing the thing out. Nevertheless, after the labour of loading everything up, using it was so enjoyable that I'm currently missing its company, and looking forward to it being restored to full working order......... if that isn't too optimistic!

Watch this space

RE: The Brennan JB7

Fair enough.  It clearly delivers the convenience that is its selling point.  My point is only about sound quality and investing a very considerable amount of time and effort for a standard of reproduction that is fixed and limited, in a lossless audio world which can and does deliver so much more.

The point about mp3 compression versus FLAC-like lossless is well rehearsed here.  There might come a time when owners with compressed music hear what lossless, high bit-rate sounds like - and need to re-rip their collections to achieve it.   This might only apply to a few but it's something every potential purchaser should bear in mind, surely?

Vic.

RE: The Brennan JB7

mikes

Is the power on/off switch not the one on the back, above the power in lead?

RE: The Brennan JB7

My wife gave me a JB7 for Christmas.  I think her hope is that we can eventually lose the large, rather ugly piece of furniture that now houses vinyl, CDs, MiniDiscs, cassettes and their various players and have just the JB7 and an amplifier standing on something more elegant.

Now I have a lot of experience of the machine, let me make the following comments.

No-one has yet mentioned what strikes me as a very fundamental shortcoming in the JB7: it has no fast forward/reverse buttons.  So you can't thread quickly through a long track to find a point of interest - something I do fairly often.  That makes the JB7 the first piece of audio equipment I've encountered since the 1950s to lack this normally 'standard' facility!

I bought a cheap USB mini keyboard which makes life much easier than the silly remote control that comes with the machine.  For the next generation of Brennan devices, I strongly suggest they provide a small wireless keyboard with a small multi-line display; that would eradicate the regular complaints about the current remote and one-line slow-scrolling display.

Loading my 900 CDs was a breeze, relatively speaking, though the on-board CD database is pretty pathetic, and boxed sets cause massive problems since the JB7 often can't recognize different discs with very similar names.  For vinyl, MDs and tapes, I decided not to bother with the JB7.  I have Sony Sound Forge audio studio on my computer, so record from my existing system to my laptop.  That way I can use SoundForge to 'improve' scratchy LP recordings when appropriate, and to divide lengthy recordings into tracks within folders, the only system the JB7 will accept.  I then upload everything to the JB7 via the USB port.

Like others in this forum, I've found the JB7 to be occasionally temperamental, though I'm perfectly happy with its performance generally.  For me it sounds fine, played through my reasonably high-end old amplifier.  Hi-fi fanatics will always be unhappy with one or other aspect of audio equipment, so they will never be perfectly satisfied.  (How often do they test their ears with a good double-blind ABX set-up, I wonder?)

Of course, one could use a computer to do everything the JB7 can handle and a lot more; the problem is that a computer does so much more than play music, I'd never be happy leaving one alone to do nothing but play audio.  The JB7 is a nice-looking, discrete piece of kit for a living room.

I've backed up all the CDs to an external hard drive.  The other recordings are backed up on my computer drives.  It took THREE DAYS to back up the 60 Gb of CDs from the Brennan: clearly the USB interface is not the latest and fastest!

My final comments...  Support from Brennan is pathetic.  They don't answer emails at all, from my experience.  The company is advertising itself with a strong image of Martin Brennan as a one-man wonder.  Sadly, the company may indeed be a near-solo effort, typifying the UK delight in the lone amateur approach to everything.  While cottage industries may appeal to some British instincts, they don't represent the ideal in retail business, where customer service and support truly need to be superb.  I hope the JB8 will be a device that is unequivocally state-of-the-art in all its functions, much more able than the JB7 to do things that have been audio-elementary for decades, MP3-elementary since MP3 first appeared.

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