The Juke has a DAB radio built in. A quick autoseek finds and lists all available digital radio signals. One-touch recording works here, too, so your favourite presenter's shows can be recorded and enjoyed at a time convenient to you. Over 1,000 hours can be recorded to the hard disk.
Sound quality is excellent on the whole. Bass was particularly strong, though tremendous and unusually deep bass response was a little disappointing -- this will not concern most listeners, though.
The opening three minutes of Glósóli from Sigur Rós blends a mix of truly gargantuan bass with a plethora of subtle high frequency sounds, percussive elements and choral vocals. It was a pleasure to hear this beautiful piece of music reproduced so well. Less bass-laden tracks, such as the acoustic pop-folk favourite Black Horse And The Cherry Tree from KT Tunstall sound alive, bright and passionate.
The x-DJ feature is quite interesting. This automated playlist creation system allows you to pick a 'mood' and the system creates and plays a dynamically created set of songs that fit that criteria. For example, 'Up Beat' gave us some hard-hitting rock with a swift tempo. Conversely, 'Morning' gave us a free-flowing and calm jazzy number with relaxing female vocals. The more music you store on the HDD, the more custom tuned your playlists will be.
Should you have a huge collection of MP3s on your home PC, the Giga Juke can be wired into your home network with a standard Ethernet cable. This allows you to browse and stream your entire library via the Juke's interface. We set up a connection between the hi-fi and a PC on our corporate network. It took about 20 minutes to set up but the results were worth the effort. We used media serving software from Allegro, which makes your iTunes or similar library available to networked media players.
The Giga Juke NAS-50HDE is an expensive choice if you've already got a good hi-fi connected to a high-capacity iPod. If not, the convenience of having 40,000 tracks stored internally, along with a great CD player, DAB tuner and fantastic sound quality, makes £500 a large but justifiable sum. Whether or not you think it's worth half a grand depends on how much you'd appreciate having your entire CD collection in one simple system.
The main competitor here is Denon's D-F103, but at £900 it's almost twice the cost of Sony's Giga Juke. With this in mind, £500 seems very reasonable indeed.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield