The Brennan JB7

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RE: The Brennan JB7

We removed a very small number of comments, which made statements (or made reference to statements) about the product which the poster themselves subsequently pointed out were not true.

As you will see from the rest of the the thread, there are comments positive and negative, and so long as they remain in the realms of 'fair comment', we haven't – and won't –  edit or remove them.

As for advertising, that's entirely independent of this forum or indeed any editorial, and will always remain so.

RE: The Brennan JB7

We reviewed it back in April 2010, so it presumably refers to that. All I meant was that whatever ads the magazine might run, or whatever they might say, it has no relationship on editorial or how we might treat comments in the forum.

RE: The Brennan JB7

Gramophone wrote:

We reviewed it back in April 2010

Actually even earlier than that: October 2008, if I recall correctly. And of course the hard-disk music storage world has moved on a bit since then.

Audio Editor, Gramophone

Some tips

With 500+ classical CDs now on my JB7, I can report experience. It’s a real pleasure to use and to hear, nothing in what follows detracts from that, but the input of original CDs, though fairly quick, is a considerable labour.

The supplied index is vast but quite patchy, so you have to monitor what it’s doing. One CD in 10 is not identified, and just given a number (so you have to key-in title and all track details sometime later). 1 in 20 is apparently identified but with hilarious track names that you have to change later. Strange CDs bought in charity shops get perfectly identified while random parts of a big standard collection (e.g. Scott Ross - Scarlatti) are not recognised and just called ‘Album nnn’. Double CD sets can reduce to just one ‘#2CD’ if the ‘artist +composer +orchestra’ string is identical over 64 characters for each CD (typical for opera): you have to anticipate this and change the name of the #1 CD immediately after it loads, otherwise #2 will overwrite it. Also you ought anyway to check all index-found ‘Album’ names to see that they contain the keywords you might want to search on later - for instance, the index gives priority to spelling out ‘Johann Sebastian’ and then runs out of room for the BWV No. How then ever to find it?

No sensible chance of doing all this on the clicky front panel, or the diddy remote. Simply plug in to the JB7 a normal USB keyboard (borrowed from your own PC), or buy a tiny one (recommended). Then you can change ‘Album’ names fairly easily, still using the JB7 front panel for choices and mouseclicks. The system seems very robust.

To get things exhaustively right, you’ll need to ‘export names’ with all details to a USB stick (after any and all compression on the JB7 has completed) and put the stick into a PC. Change the name of the exported file to ‘.txt’ and open (and save) it that way. Now you can correct almost anything, before ‘re-naming’ back to the original filename, and ‘importing’ from the stick.

It’s tempting to open the big file in Word or similar, so as to use the ‘replace all’ command (e.g. to replace Bwv by BWV). This command is dangerous: the second line listed for each ‘Album’ has generated an immutable ‘hash’ code in the JB7’s database - you cannot change anything at all on that line, not spacing, not case, not hidden end-space. Leave it alone, it doesn’t show up on the JB7’s display anyway.

Just to be clear about the list, the first listed line for each ‘Album’ is the title as acquired (if it did) from the index. You can change that at will (but not longer than the 64 characters). The second line is sacrosanct, as above. So is the third line, which is a simple count of the tracks on the CD. After that, each track name is listed (or ‘Track 1,2,3…’ if the index didn’t recognise it). Change these track names at will, again with an eye to what keywords you might one day want to search for, but be sure not to change any linebreaks.

After editing the list, ‘save as’ ‘.txt’, and change the filename back to the original (no ‘.txt’ extension) and re-import to the JB7. Like as not, it will find ‘Error line xxx’ because you inadvertently altered a line #2 somewhere, or put in or deleted a linebreak. Write down the displayed error linenumber quickly (it vanishes). Back to the PC to correct things and re-save to the USB stick (no damage seems to be done to the JB7 database meanwhile). To find the errant line on the PC you will have to show linenumbers on the displayed list - in Word that is ‘File | Page Setup | Layout | Add line Numbers | Continuous’, and work out where you went wrong. Anyone good at Crosswords will enjoy this - there is always a reason. Do not input any more CDs until you have got it right (or have abandoned the edit this time around).

One further idea. If you know how, from a PC burn your own ‘silent’ CD-R. Just 2 seconds of ‘Audacity’ without input are enough. Then if you are inputting your CDs by category, you can use your silent CD time and again as a searchable bookmark (and rename your bookmarks later). Or if you fear that multiple CDs with the same ‘Album’ name will overwrite each other, you can first open a silent ‘Album’ space to fill, later, with the #1 CD if it turns out to have been overwritten by #2.

Note further that all the CDs you ever input will forever be (and will forever 'next' play) in the exact sequence you input them. So if you anticipate problems, or new acquisitions in sequence, you will have to have opened up gaps with the silent CD before interleaving anything else. For instance, if you want to put one CD earlier in the already-input sequence, you will have to delete an ‘Album’ that occupies the desired position, then immediately input the new CD (which will go in the first vacant slot available), then re-input the ‘Album’ you deleted (which will go at the very end, if there are no earlier vacant ‘deleted Album’ slots). Again, fun for puzzlers, but surely there will soon be a utility to address this curiosity, Please?

The good news… is that a selected few of the JB7’s basic infrared commands work well from the Kymera magic wand (q.v.), if you have the patience and coordination to find out how from your armchair. This is the way really to impress any visitors familiar with Harry Potter. But they may still not like your music.

RE: Some tips

This has got to be the most amusing post on this subject although I appreciate that may not be intentional. I think that after following this most interesting post from the beginning I have concluded not to bother making a purchase after all. The idea sounds great but the painstaking journey to load CDs to the Brennan to me outweighs the benefits. I was never planning to move my considerable CD collection to the attic anyway and even though I gave up trying to place recordings alphabetically long ago I still know the location of every CD I have. Thankfully they are still in alphabetical order in each location. I know that's fine provided one has the storage space and I am fortunate that I have this. The real nail in the coffin for me with the Brennan was the report of a rumbling sound during playback which several posters have mentioned. I can cope with this when listening to LP's, indeed I expect it. This sounds a serious enough drawback to me and is another deterent against purchase.

RE: The Brennan JB7

I considered the JB7 as a possible library system for my CDs some time ago.

However for me it has a real non-starter characteristic. It will not play MP3s without a discernible break from track to track (MP3 file to MP3 file). So as an opera lover it's useless as so many recordings have cue points within continuous music.

I now have a CD deck (Denon) with MP3 playback - and still the breaks are there (I made a test CD). I had previously contacted a couple of other hi-fi component manufactuers and they also say the breaks are present. The only thing that plays backs MP3s as a continuous stream is the PC.

Why the un-indexable MP3 format has apparently been adopted as the compressed format of choice baffles me.

 

RE: The Brennan JB7

Apologies if my points are covered already but I haven't read all the thread - but here are my two-pen'oth, for what it's worth.

I have a very large  [15,000+] CD collection, plus 4,000 LPs and about 500 tapes, and not suprisingly the space this was taking up, plus the challenge of finding what I was looking for, had finally got to the'must do something about this' stage.  This was about 3 and half years ago ... at that time there was not much around in the way of practical bits of kit/software that I could use, but I had a feeling that this was the way things were going to go - and then I read a review of the Squeezbox Duet!

 

Since then, my listening life has changed completely, as I can now locate ANYTHING I want within seconds, and be listening to it as soon as I've found it - and the improvement in my domestic situation should also not be underestimated!

A few words on the practicalities of using the Squeezebox - and digitising classical music in general.

1 Do not underestimate how long it will take to digitise your collection; admittedly mine is outsize, but it took two years to complete and I was working from home and had a lot of time to be able to multi-task.

2 I re-assigned the 'genre' classification to composer [though it is still called 'genre'] - this has the duoble advantage that you can randomise by genre on the squeezbox [and select/de-select to your choice]

3 I have edited every track name to make sense [they usually don't] and added '01, 02' etc to multi-track pieces and computers tend to do things in alphbetical order or, particularly in the case of operas, will play all the 'track 1s' then 'track 2s', which is again not very musical

4 I have a wireless router in one room, the control laptop in an upstairs bedroom and the squeezbox in the downstairs lounge; I have had no problem with connectivity or sound quality.

5 I used 320 bps and the quality is great - I live in a normal house with normal extraneous noises

6 I have had to expand my storage capacity and now have two 3TB hard-drives, one a mirror of the other, plus two other complete back-ups spread over the hard-drives that got filled; I have used just over 2TB and do not expect to need anything larger - I am not going to re-digitise my collection!

7 New software for the Squeezebox can be a pain - the latest has a bug that means you can't randomise tracks; this is being worked on

8 All those digital photos you take and only look at once after you've taken them can be re-sized, renamed as 'album' loaded into the folder and will appear [albeit only small] as the cover art on the remote

9 I think the SB is wonderful and it does everything I want - only better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry for Techno-Confusion

Sorry if my wry remarks have deterred someone from trying a JB7. My own box (circuits dated March 2011) has had no audio problems at all, and I’m fussy. No rumble or distortion, and the box needs no internal fan - so it seems silent. At ‘best quality’ MP3 compression, and with the little kit speakers, it adequately fills a room with instrumental music - and as the ads say, it reminds me of music I’d forgotten I owned. A real pleasure to have around.

It ‘just works’, if you are putting in a few hundred CDs over several evenings; each CD takes only a couple of minutes. The snags I mentioned have to do with the index (derived from a public database). Once everything is in ‘as is’, in the sequence you want, and before putting away the CDs you ought to check at least the ‘Album’ names attributed. Or, do that on some rainy day much later. Any other kit, including i-Tunes, would need similar checking of externally-indexed names.

It’s a pity there isn’t a tidier way of PC-editing the plain-text index which you can ‘export’ via USB for your own collection, and then re-‘import’ after all your keyboard corrections - any geek knowing WP ‘scripts’ or spreadsheets could probably fix that in minutes, eliminating linecount errors.

If you eventually do the wise ‘full backup’ to a USB hard drive, and thereafter edit any ‘Album’ or track name again, be aware that that ‘Album’ will now back-up in duplicate. Even ‘Albums’ explicitly deleted from the JB7 do not seem to auto-delete from the cumulative hard drive backup. Perhaps that’s useful for an archive.

The advantage of the full backup (which only-the-very-first-time takes days to finish) is that your backup hard drive will then contain normal MP3 files correctly titled, so you can use them for any other machinery you have or later acquire. If re-using them, or restoring from backup some evil day, you will probably have to give close attention to the sequence in which they restore - all backups, curiously, have exactly the same (2004!) datestamp.

The long and the short of it is that the box just sits there small, cool and silent, and does (mostly) what you expect. No computer to boot up, no WiFi to fry your over-sensitive houseguests’ tinfoil hats. You just press the button on a whim and hear what you’ve been missing for years.

There must be lots of other tips to share for people who enjoy knowing what’s technically possible with the JB7, or what could easily be enhanced at home. But not here, if that deters buyers who just want (and will certainly get) something that is so pleasantly uncomplicated. Where else, then?

RE: Some tips

A further tip for finding a line in Notepad is to do Ctrl + G (the same cell finder trick from Excel). This displays the current line and you can type in the line number you require. This should save a lot of time.

It also works in MS Word although you will have the intermediate step of telling Word that it is a line number required and not a page for instance.

RE: The Brennan JB7

Reply to BigBob

The JB7 simplified and enhanced my relationship with my music. Yes, it was a task par excellence getting there, but I don't regret the hard work now I've got it where I want it to be.

In answer to your questions:

1) Difficult cataloguing of Classical Music. Probably. Maybe Martin will comment. I had to do a lot of work to get my music catalogued as I wanted it. I don't regret it

2) Poor reliability reported by many. I haven't had any problems, incl no problems with sound at all.

3) Poor customer service reported by many. Because of 2) I can't comment on post-sales but pre-sales customer management fine

4) Not being able to fast-forward or fast-back in the middle of a track. Doesn't let you do this within a track, just between tracks. I don't need it

5) Although, computer savvy, I don't like the idea of all the
workarounds needed to get things properly set up. I don't need the
hassle. Therein lies the rub for you...mind you convenience, accessibility, portability and simplicity (eventually) makes this a great buy in my book. And I don't want to access my music off a laptop or any other complicated gadget connections

Leslie Sopp

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