ELAC’s Discovery server’s form has seen a slight makeover since its RMAF ’15 debut. Functionally it remains the same.
The internals still have Linux OS running on a Quad Core ARM processor. To ensure robust performance, ELAC’s modified version of Roon Core (the server component) runs on a dedicated EMC module whilst 8Gb RAM is reserved for storing Roon’s metadata.
Music storage is BYO – simply connect a USB hard-drive to the back of the unit – or via Tidal. Deezer Elite integration is also “coming”. For music making, connect an external DAC via coaxial or Toslink (but not USB) or make use of the Discovery’s internal D-to-A conversion that outputs via two sets of RCA outputs. In Roon terms that translates to three Endpoints (zones) which can be synchronised (or not) via ELAC’s Roon remote app. Pricing remains at US$999.
However, there’s a slight wrinkle as Chris Walker, Vice President of Product Development at ELAC Americas, explains:
“Our Discovery Server contains all of the features of a traditional license (DSD and High Resolution Audio included), except for the ability to stream outside of our ecosystem. Our server will not stream to an AirPlay speaker or to another Roon Ready product. Of course you can stream to any other ELAC Discovery product.”
What that means in practice is that although ELAC’s Discovery server comes with a Roon license, it’s actually an ELAC Roon license (hence not officially “Roon Ready”). The Discovery can only stream to ELAC’s own Roon Endpoints and not, say, an AURALiC Aries. A further US$99 payment is required to break out of the ELAC ecosystem and into Roon proper.
Fret not. The first ELAC Discovery device coming to market is the 100wpc Class D DS-A101 integrated amplifier that bundles the following features: Roon Endpoint network streamer; an internal DAC that can also be tapped via Toslink, coaxial, Bluetooth, Airplay and Spotify Connect inputs (but no USB); subwoofer output with optional crossover point analysis; analogue input; DSP-fuelled room correction (bonus!). You get a LOT for US$499.
Here Walker (erm) walks us through both units:
However, taking networked audio a step further is ELAC’s Discovery Series wireless power module that will eventually activate Andrew Jones’ passive designs (B5, F5 or UB5), thus turning them into powered Airplay-compatible, Spotify-connected Roon Endpoint-ing loudspeakers – just add Discovery server. No interconnects, no loudspeaker cable, no external DAC required. How cool is that?
ELAC adding analogue inputs to their forthcoming active loudspeakers remains a possibility.
The way I see it, self-contained system or not, ELAC Americas’ push to combine network streaming with active loudspeakers designed by Andrew Jones throws a long shadow over rival manufacturers. A round of applause, please.
Further information: ELAC Americas