July 28, 2011
| by Grant Clauser
Autonomic’s Mirage MMS-5 is a music server that, like many others, lets users select tracks from a stored music library. But the Mirage goes way beyond that. It’s designed to easily merge your various digital music collections as well as give you access to the vast, dare I say, unlimited, music library in that ethereal Internet space we call the cloud. That’s all great, but the icing on the cake is how easily it works.
Under the hood of the slim, rack-mountable MM5 is a system built upon a Windows embedded architecture—but don’t worry, it doesn’t act like a computer; it acts like a high-performance audio component. It includes a 1 TB hard drive providing ample local storage for a large music collection. It’s compatible with all the major music formats, including MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, FLAC and others. Onboard is a 192kHz/24bit DAC providing audiophile-grade sound to your amplifier.
For connections, it provides a digital optical output (delivering 5.1) plus four stereo analog outputs, so you can easily send audio to five zones around your home. Online content comes through a wired Ethernet connection. Control systems are supported via IP Ethernet. There’s also video output for an onscreen TV display if you want it.
Integrating all the convenience of the Mirage is blessedly easy. I plugged in the Ethernet cable from my router (it requires a wired connection, no Wi-Fi), then hooked the optical cable to an Onkyo receiver, and turned the unit on. After a moment of fan spinning and humming, I logged onto my computer to begin configuring the system. The Mirage was immediately located by the PC application which allowed me to select the music services I wanted to use as well as synchronize it with any of my own music files.
Setting up my music accounts was easy. For Pandora and Spotify (Premium subscription for Spotify only) I just entered my account names and passwords, and the Mirage added my personalized channels to the system. Loading up my PC-stored files required me to download an application, which was easily done. You can also synchronize your iTunes account by specifying the Mirage as one of your authorized playback devices. After that your iTunes library gets automatically synchronized, so there’s no need to use an iPhone dock to play you music around the house.
The best trick, however, was how sweetly the Mirage worked with Amazon’s Cloud Drive. I entered my Amazon Cloud account info and clicked the boxed to allow the Mirage to download my Cloud-stored content and upload my local content, ensuring they’re both always synchronized. The whole setup process was so easy it was crazy.
Once all that was done, I needed a way to access my music. If you already use a control system by Crestron, Control4, AMX, RTI or URC, then you installer can easily integrate the Mirage into your existing controller. I used the Mirage’s iPhone app, which proved extremely satisfying in both navigation and information feedback. One nice bonus about using the iPhone was that since it’s not dependent on an IR signal, you can change your music channel or track from anywhere in the house. One drawback is that the app is $20, so it can cost you more than $100 to get everyone in the family the app if they each use separate iTunes accounts. I’d have expected a $4,000 device to include the app for no charge.
Using the iPhone, I could select my Pandora channels, easily create additional channels, switch to local playlists or browse the thousands of available Internet radio stations. The Mirage also works with SiriusXM if you’re a subscriber to satellite radio.
The iPhone screen displays artist and track info, sometimes album art and additional information dependent on the service you’re accessing. If you have the Mirage connected to a television you can also see that information on the TV or watch a photo slideshow while music is playing.
The Mirage MM5 is an excellent product for people who have wildly eclectic tastes as it allows you access to nearly any music. Hookup is simple, sound quality is excellent, and control is intuitive, so you don’t have to give every member of your family a lesson in how to use it.
Autonomic Mirage MM5 Music Server
Click on the slideshow to see more images of the interface, connections and iPhone app.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.
Video Outputs: HDMI, DVI; component video and VGA available with optional adaptors
Supported Streaming Services: PANDORA internet radio, SiriusXM Internet Radio, TuneIn Radio (RadioTime) Supported Audio Formats .aif, .aifc, .aiff, .au, .cda, .flac, .m4a, .m4p, .mid, .midi, .mp2, .mp3, .mpa, .rmi, .snd, .wav, .wma, .wpl
Digital Image Formats: .bmp, .jpg, .tif, .png
Audio Processor: Intel 82801JR high-definition audio
Digital-to-Analog Conversion: 114dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit
Master Volume: -80dB to +20dB