Review samples supplied by Antipodes Audio
Retail price (world) USD 29.000 excluding storage
Upgrade price G3 to G4 USD 4.000
Storage can be included at purchase or later installed by the user
Available in Black or Silver
The Antipodes Oladra Music Server was introduced in April 2023 as the company’s brand new flagship, featuring a brand new style language with its beautiful sculpted and very heavy solid aluminum enclosure. As I found during my review, the Oladra offered all of the full-blooded, richly saturated, and smoothly organic sound that made Antipodes servers famous whilst increasing articulation, transient sharpness, resolution, and transparency to new levels. From the very first notes of music it played, it was clear that this beauty was indeed well deserving of its flagship moniker.
But development never stands still at Antipodes HQ. Breakthrough developments led to G4 Oladra technology, which triggered the release of updates for the Oladra server and all other models.
I’ve heard some disapproving voices regarding the timing of the Oladra update, so shortly after the model’s introduction, which I can understand. But on the other hand, should we expect Antipodes just sit on new developments, only to release them a few years down the line? I’d argue not.
Importantly, the upgrades can be retrofitted to G3 models at the exact same cost as the difference in price between the G3 and G4 models. To be precise, the Oladra was USD 25.000, the G4 Oladra is USD29.000 and the upgrade cost is USD4.000. An upgraded unit is identical to the new models in all respects and receives a fresh warranty.
The new G4 Oladra incorporates double isolation, regeneration, and reclocking of all outputs with a new USB output and is fitted with an improved player engine. These changes are indicated to improve sound quality, most notably, the new USB output lifting the USB sound quality to match the sound quality of the S/PDIF, AES3, and I2S outputs. Other indicated benefits include an increase of 200% to 400% in system resources to improve system responsiveness and enterprise-level OS resilience against data loss in unusual AC power events. Lastly, an earth screw connector has been fitted to allow extra earthing or the use of aftermarket earthing solutions.
AMS v5.0.0 Web Interface
At around the same time as my Oladra was upgraded, Antipodes was working on finalizing the next version of their AMS Web Interface. From the start and throughout the years, AMS has always offered the best way to interface with a server’s settings. As the software was incrementally updated, the interface became ever slicker and ever better integrated within the Antipodes website. Previously, the only way to find your server without knowing its IP address was to navigate to “myantipodes” to see an overview of the Antipodes servers or streamers on the local network.
Since AMS v4, Antipodes has simplified the process by integrating this section into their main website. The aforementioned link still works, but the more elegant way to find your server and get to its Web Interface is by going to “antipodes.audio” and clicking Setup in the top menu. AMS v5 will likely be made available to the public by the time this review is published. Along with the revamping of AMS, the Antipodes website has recently been updated and looks slicker than ever.
After clicking Antipodes Oladra, we are welcomed by the Solution Dashboard, which contains all the functionality you need to quickly set up the server as desired, such as Playback Method, Audio Output, DSD Method, and an update button. V5 combines all information on a single screen, replacing the separate screens for the server and player. Now, you can quickly see all the important information at a glance, such as CPU usage, memory usage, software version, MAC address, IP address, etc.
AMSv5 Solution Dashboard:
I already thought V4 looked super-slick, but I have to hand it to Antipodes for continually improving the software in just the right ways. The software not only looks great but also works super-intuitively.
Playback Method pull-down Menu, showing all the player options:
By selecting a pre-configured solution above, you prep both the server and player sections at the same time. Naturally, you can also change the preset configurations just the way you like.
As with all Antipodes models, users can easily choose/switch between using Squeeze, Roon, MPD, HQPlayer, UPnP/DLNA, and Shairport, right from the AMS web interface.
Although using only one Server App at a time is recommended for the best Sound Quality, you are free to enable as many as you like simultaneously in the Server Apps Dashboard.
Various other screens allow full control of every aspect of the server and player apps, right down to diagnostics, troubleshooting, and even booking a support session. Please see the Guides section on the Antipodes website for all the ins and outs.
Although my unit was well run in before being updated, it’s always wise to avoid jumping to conclusions when listening to a newly updated model. The Oladra sounded fantastic from the very first moment I switched it on, but to be safe, I let it simmer a bit before making more serious assessments. When I listened to it again after two weeks, the sound had changed subtly, now just a little smoother, more relaxed, and more organic. Since I was working on a multitude of other reviews at the same time, it took me longer than normal to get started on this review, but that also allowed me to make sure the server was completely run in before making my final assessments.
I tried various power cables when I first reviewed the Oladra and found that a standard Belden 19364 with Oyaide C-004 worked surprisingly well. After the upgrade, the cable worked just as well as before, so I felt no need to change it.
The I2S pinout can be assigned using DIP switches on the bottom of the unit.
The Oladra footers are a sandwich of two different metals with a thick polymer in between. This polymer is specifically designed for vibration control, and its tension is set to the correct level for optimum results. With such an inert chassis, Antipodes wanted to ensure that the Oladra was as isolated from the rack as possible without affecting the timbre. After trying various highly regarded footers, this quest led to the creation of these proprietary footers.
User-accessible bays on the back allow users to easily add up to 3 SSDs (up to 24TB) for music storage. The available digital outputs include Direct Stream Ethernet (RJ45), USB UAC-2 (A), S/PDIF (RCA & BNC), AES3 (3-Pin XLR), and I2S (HDMI & RJ45).
The Oladra will be listened to mostly using Roon, although I should mention that Antipodes are a big fan of using Squeeze, either with Squeeze Server or as an endpoint combined with Roon.
The main system consists of the CH Precision C1.2 DAC, CH Precision L1 preamplifier, CH Precision A1.5 power amp, and Magico S1 MkII speakers. Other digital sources include the Grimm MU1 and Aqua La Diva M2 CD transport. The CH pre-amplifier and DAC are supported by an Artesania Exoteryc rack with Carbon Fiber Linear Arms, the CH power amplifier sits on an Aire rack with Carbon Fiber Linear Arms and KSH2 Krion shelves, and all other sources, including the Oladra, are supported by HRS EXR Racks.
All analog interlinks are Driade Flow Link Reference 808, both balanced and unbalanced. The speaker cables are the Jorma Unity. The Oladra will be used both with its Reclocker AES/EBU output via a Jorma AES/EBU cable as well as with its updated USB output using a Mad Scientist Black Magic Gold, Vermouth Reference, and Final Touch Audio Sinope USB cables.