Qsonix Q2 Music Servers

Audiophiles know well the name Wadia Digital, a Michigan-based company that has been making high-quality digital-audio products for over 20 years. Now, Wadia has teamed up with California-based Qsonix to create the Q205 high-end music server, which joins the Q210 in the company's new Q2 series.

Both models are available with 1 or 2TB of hard-disk storage and a 15- or 17-inch touchscreen controller. They can also be controlled from a Macintosh or Windows PC as well as an app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. In addition, the multi-room Q210 can be integrated into a Crestron or other control system.

Sonically, the audiophile-oriented Q205 supports uncompressed digital audio at resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz with a Wadia-designed digital-output stage that claims very low noise and jitter. In addition to WAV files, the Q205 can import in lossless FLAC and WMA formats, allowing over 5000 CDs to be stored (3000 in uncompressed form). Outputs include AES/EBU, S/PDIF coax and optical, and USB.

The Q210 is a somewhat different animal intended for multi-room applications. CDs can be stored with lossless compression or at two different levels of lossy compression, accommodating up to 25,000 titles. Four independent stereo-analog outputs can play four different programs simultaneously, and the unit can be upgraded with digital-audio outputs and high-resolution capabilities.

With both products, the graphical user interface is designed to be drag-and-drop simple, and you can browse your library by playlist, genre, artist, and many other criteria to find exactly what you want. Connecting the units to the Internet allows them to automatically download album art and other metadata from AMG (All Music Guide) as well as firmware updates.

As with most such systems, pricing depends on the configuration you select, but most are in the range of $7000 to $8000. That's a bit less than the Q205's main competitor—the well-regarded Sooloos from Meridian, which is limited to 24-bit/96kHz digital audio and has fewer digital-output options. (The original Sooloos was reviewed in Stereophile, including an update on the recent improvements and price drop; a system with 1TB and 17-inch touchscreen controller is now about $8500.) Still, they seem very comparable, and I'd love to take them both for a spin someday.