Product Highlight – ELAC Discovery Music ServerJune 20, 2019
One of the our favourite products here at Frank Prowse Hi-Fi is the Elac Discovery Music Server, or for the geeks out there, the DS-S101-G. This is a compact unit smartly housed in a brushed aluminium chassis that allows you to access music via a USB drive or over the network. It also has Tidal support and recently Spotify Connect functionality was added to the mix. The icing on the cake however is the inclusion of Roon Essentials, the operating software used to control the system. Roon Essentials is a licenced standalone version of the amazing Roon software, and it’s no secret that we are huge fans of the Roon control system, both in-store and at use in our own home systems. Roon does has one caveat – it’s not free (a lifetime subscription will set you back USD$499). When you buy the Elac Discovery, you get Roon Essentials, for FREE!!
So, it’s Roon right, the whole thing, just free? Well, not exactly. The database is capped at 30,000 songs (that’s still a large amount of music) in your library and you lose all of the equalisation settings that can be useful in acoustically-challenged rooms (although this isn’t aimed at amateurs new to the world of acoustics). The Roon Essentials software will only support up to and including 24/192kHz audio, with no DSD support. My current Roon database at home tells me of the 15,500 tracks I own, approximately 150 are DSD files. So for the most part, no big deal. So with those features missing, the Roon Essentials experience is no different from regular Roon, and you have some money left in your pocket too!
Of course, for some enthusiasts, the lack of DSD support is not acceptable and does not make the Discovery future-proof. On the contrary, the Discovery CAN be used with the full Roon software, so at any stage you can update to the full (paid) Roon solution and use this to control the Elac Discovery. This also means that those DSD files we mentioned above can be made compatible and ultimately played back through the Elac. The Discovery has four outputs – two analogue and two digital for a total of three zones. The Discovery fully supports Roon Ready endpoints, as well as Sonos and AirPlay with Spotify Connect built-in. This gives the Discovery a bit of an advantage over, say, Roon’s own hardware (Nucleus and Nucleus+) which currently only has support for Tidal and Qobuz built into the Roon application itself.
So, the Elac sits in similar territory price-wise to the very popular Cambridge CXN v2 DAC/Streamer, but if you don’t desire the DAC capability of the Cambridge, we feel the Roon Essentials software is a better driver and a more intuitive experience which removes the barrier between you and ultimately your music!
The Elac Discovery is priced at $1,799 and comes with the Roon Essentials software (FREE!)