Brennan B2 - the Hifi with a WebsiteWeb technology and the "Internet of Things" will do to HiFi what the IBM PC did to typewriters.
If you are thinking about buying an audio product whether it's an amplifier, a CD player or a kitchen radio - without a web interface - think again - it's history. Don’t buy it - unless you are a museum.
Imagine right now - open another tab on this browser - see your entire music collection and 38,000 radio stations - press play. The room fills with your best music.
What is it?
At its simplest B2 is a hard disk Hifi that stores your entire music collection.
You can use it like an old-school CD player - just put a CD in and press play. Instant gratification. Press another button and B2 rips the CD onto the hard disk.
Track, Album and Artist names are assigned from the internet as you load so you can find music by name later. (By the way - you don’t need an internet connection - B2 has an internal database of 3.5 million CDs).
Store all your CDs on the hard disk and you can declutter your living room, get instant access to any track and play unbroken music at the touch of a button.
B2 uses FLAC compression that's a lossless compression technique so B2 stores an exact copy of what is on the CD. (See Martin's simple explanation of compression).
2Tb model can store 4400 CDs as FLAC - perfect unadulterated copies of your CDs forever.
You don’t need an expensive hard disk though - there is a lower price 64G SD model that will hold 100’s of CDs. You can increase the storage yourself later when bigger SD cards become available.
Find music quickly - just a few seconds to search for a track. Or simply scroll through albums using the volume knob.
If you want utter simplicity - the Next button turns B2 on and plays your music at random - don’t like what it plays just press again - music as simple as an electric kettle.
Listen to your favourite radio station - via the internet - now over 38,000 stations - so you can listen to New Orleans in Cambridge or BBC Radio Four in Spain.
You can operate B2 from the front panel or with a remote control but its the Web User Interface (Web UI) that transforms how you will enjoy music.
The web user interface lets you control your B2 from your sofa with a laptop, tablet or smartphone.
It is simply the most natural way to choose and play your music. Its how Hifi was meant to be. You will never go back.
Uncompromised Audio Quality
There is an optical SPDIF output on the back so you can deliver the music to a high end DAC or high end audio equipment for uncompromised audio quality.
This message bears repeating - the B2 digital output is identical to and therefore as good as any high end CD player. Regardless of price.
B2 also has its own 15W+15W RMS power amplifier with chunky 4mm plugs if you want a simple one box music system. (30W RMS means uncomfortably loud in my office).
B2 has Bluetooth so you can play music from Spotify or iTunes etc. on your mobile phone or tablet through the B2.
B2 is machined from solid aluminium and has either a black or stained brushed aluminium front. Its impressively solid and can take a 70kg load (me).
Transfer music into B2 from your Brennan JB7 or Apple iTunes or PC using a USB hard disk.
Backup to an external hard disk so your music is safe in the event of a breakdown.
B2 has a Raspberry Pi Linux computer inside that you can login to and program yourself.
Big bright display that you can read from across a room.
New features - like web upload featured in the Youtube above left - are being added every month. Upgrade the software in seconds over the internet
First month’s production sold out in three hours. First three months production sold in advance.
Martin Brennan writes about the B2
A few years ago I designed the JB7 in a spare room. I had no money. It was the financial crisis. The banks wouldn’t give me a loan. A few folks shook their heads and told me it would never sell. For three years insomnia and 70 hour weeks were the norm.
But I sold 50,000 JB7s worth £20 million. It changed my life.
Owners love their JB7s. Many bought two or more JB7s. At least one customer bought five!
Now I think I’ve got something much bigger..
Music is great. I mean it can make you cry or dance.
I designed JB7 for me and my music. Not for a boss. Not for a job. Not for a market. Not for a price. Not because someone else made money with one. I designed JB7 because I wanted one.
For me hard disks and music were made for each other - you know like fish and chips.
You can analyse it and put it into words - instant access to all your music at the touch of a button - that kind of thing. But it’s like explaining a joke - it ceases to be funny. Having all my music on a hard disk was just magical.
I got a lot right with the JB7 but JB7 was compromised. I really needed a display with a million pixels that I could see across a room. But I wanted it to fit in a box the size of a book - impossible.
In the end I used the biggest brightest display that would fit in the box and was forced to abandon anything complicated. On JB7 you can edit a playlist - but it's a bit like playing chess in your head.
The New Fish and Chips
Times change. SD cards are as big as hard disks. Internet browsers are everywhere. You are using one right now! And for me music and web browsers are the new fish and chips.
A web user interface or Web UI - completely solves the JB7 display compromise. For instance editing a playlist on B2 is more like lego than chess. You just drag albums or tracks around the screen.
I’m a beginner to web design and the B2 Web UI is growing every week. Last week I added a function to play music on any website to any B2 in your home. Next week I’ll probably add a function to rip a CD track to a mobile phone. But I can tell you that the Web UI is not some sort of gimmick but is simply the best and most natural way to enjoy your music.
I wanted radio in JB7. In fact early JB7 models had a connector for a DAB module. The problem is I live in Newmarket and I never could get a decent signal. And like I said I designed JB7 for me - so no DAB signal in Newmarket meant no radio in JB7. There wasn’t any point.
Internet Radio fixes all that. Signal strength is not an issue. You receive exactly what left the broadcaster even if they are in Australia.
But that's boring compared to the sheer magic of 38,000 internet radio stations. I’ve listened to radio ads from Manila, a phone-in from Jamaica and a Gospel radio station from New York - it's like being an explorer. It's far more playful than just a radio - I felt like a child again.
Butter or Margarine
B2 reflects a shift in my thinking about MP3 and compressed music. I used to think that I could not tell the difference between MP3 and the original. Now I’m not so sure.
I’m beginning to suspect that even though I might not be able to tell which is which - listening to compressed music may be tiring and less enjoyable. I recently listened to Dire Straits - uncompressed on the B2 - and it was unbelievable. If you do nothing else after reading this - have a listen to the CD - treat yourself.
I sidestepped the whole debate on the JB7 and made compression switchable. But on B2 I have gone further and added FLAC encoding. This is not really compressed music like MP3 but it allows you to store more uncompressed CDs on the hard disk - like a zip file on a computer. It reflects my preference to listening to the original uncompressed music where possible.
An implication of this shift in thinking is that for me tracks on CDs are better than the MP3 downloads - so buying a CD is a better deal even if you have to wait a day to have it delivered.
OK this bit is going to be embarrassing. No I wasn’t on TV but yes I faced a TV Dragon in a regional competition for investment. Long story short - I presented a prototype to the dragon - who stopped me in my tracks and said
“Martin I can’t read the display from here”
I learned more about product design in that instant than in my career so far. It wasn’t a pleasant sensation. I was so focussed on the bits and pieces I’d forgotten about using it. The immediate feeling I had was that I’d designed the prototype inside out - if that makes sense.
I can’t remember the rest of the presentation - it's a blur - I know I wanted to get out of there quick. In fact I got on a plane to Hong Kong that night and the following day in a hotel room on Canton Road - JB7 was born - thank you Dragon.
Amazon - Five Stars
So what are you waiting for? B2 is good looking. It sounds great. It's the perfect home for your music. B2 is future proof. It's evolving. B2 will get you back into music. There is a money back guarantee and a pain free returns process. At the time of writing our returns rate is just 1.55% at Amazon. Really what are you waiting for? Order your B2 today and start thinking about the new CDs you want to buy.
Order through our shop or through Amazon.
A B2 turns a bit of shelf space into your world of music.
Best Kit"This is the best piece of kit I’ve ever used. It is a completely stress free way to store and listen to all your music. I’m enjoying my CD collection all over again now that it’s so easy to access. And the internet radio is an amazing added bonus!"
Absolute Radio Presenter
More testimonials here
26th November - NAS & SONOS
I've just extended B2 so that you can use it with Sonos. Turns out its almost like Brennan and Sonos were made for each other - a real joy.
Sonos: neat wireless speakers and slick software. Brennan: ripping and music storage, old school physical controls and high quality stereo sound.
Here for the details.
9th November - Alexa“Alexa - Connect to Brennan”
"Now Connected to Brennan B2”
“Alexa - Play Christmas Music”
It took seconds to pair the new Amazon Echo Dot (£49.99) with my Brennan B2. Tap Settings on the Alexa App then pick the Alexa product you want to pair (I only had the one). Then tap Bluetooth. After a moment you will see the Brennan B2 listed. Tap and it's paired. After that Alexa speaks and plays music through the Brennan speakers. You don’t need the app again.
Alexa is intriguing technology and promises to be a lot of fun over the holidays. Similar services are coming from Google and Apple - I think Echo Dot is a great (inexpensive) way to to try out this exciting technology.
4th August - Eye Candy
I put a kind of VU meter on the OLED. Settings->Maintenance->VU Meter to turn it on and off.
I saw something like it on a power amplifier in a shoe shop in Manila. It looked so cool I just had to do it.
7th June - Playlist Power
I have just totally overhauled playlists. They were originally based on JB7 Playlists which were simple because of the small display. The B2 web page lets you build playlists easily so it's easy to build music collections for moods (relaxing, energetic, thought provoking) for occasions (dinner party, Christmas, Aerobics class), people (Dad’s CDs, The Kids), genres (Classical, Pop) or times of your life (Schooldays, courting, Ibiza92).
Use Playlists to avoid “musical car crashes” - you know when Mahler’s Fourth is followed by The Cheeky Girls. You could even compile a don’t play Playlist so you don’t hear Christmas Carols in Summer or block a particular track that drives you mad.
Or why not have His and Hers - like having two music systems - one each.
Find out more here.
4th May - Bluetooth Out AddedB2 can now send music to Bluetooth loudspeakers or headphones.
That means you can put your B2 somewhere convenient and not have to worry about speaker wires.
Existing owners can take advantage of the new capability. Get the details in the latest software section of Q&A.
Its really a testimony to the power and flexibility of the B2 platform and Martin's evolutionary approach.
The Brennan B2 is steadily becoming the "goto hifi" for the 21st Century.
29th February - Fantastic new function.The latest B2 software release allows you to play music from a Chrome web browser through your B2 using your home network.
You need to add this extension on the Google Web Store to your Chrome Browser. Then just click on the little letter "J" at the top right and the popup will let you direct whatever is playing to your B2.
What it means is you could listen to music from Spotify or Youtube or just a sample track on Amazon and redirect it to your B2 for great sound.
Its brand new so let me know what you think. I will probably extend the capabilities once I have used it for a bit. I have it in mind to send music to multiple B2s in other rooms but let me know what you would like.
19th February - New Android App and Smartphone UI.
Search for "Brennan B2" on the Google Play store for the free Android app that will find your B2 and open up the web UI. One touch access to all your music from your phone.
I've redesigned the web UI so it shuffles things around to fit on your smartphone - but at the same time makes use of all the space on your laptop or desktop browser. I've added some more buttons so its better for touch devices generally.
I'll be doing more work on this - giving you more power from the web UI. So let me have your feedback - and thanks for all the feedback and encouragement so far - very kind!
26th January - 38,000 radio stations!
I've added a vast number of internet radio stations and a way to manage presets through the Web UI courtesy of vTuner. See the internet radio section of Q&A.
Its delightful and somewhat awe inspiring to hear voices and values from around the globe.
16th January - Where's my B2?
Try the new Brennan App for Windows. Opens the Web UI with just a click. You don't need to type or even know the address.
7th OctoberExciting new feature lets you buy music online and transfer to the B2 - so simple - watch the video and see.
"I cannot wait to download the next software ... its like Christmas every week" - Tony.
Martin has been working on a comprehensive new web user interface that lets you organise and enjoy your B2 using a laptop or tablet - from the sofa.
Got a misspelled track name that always annoys you? - just double click - and put it right.
Want to add an album to a playlist? - just drag it into the playlist.
"The new web interface is fantastic - JM"
I did this Youtube to show the Web UI in action - click on the imge above.
Latest Software here