Which is best, the Brennan B2, or the cocktail audio x14?

Ubadigada

Active member
Oct 30, 2020
12
2
25
Hi,
I'm going to be buying either the Brennan B2 or the cocktail audio x14. I'd like to hear your opinion's on which you think is better, to help me choose between the two, because right now I can't split them.
Sound isn't an issue as I'll be playing them through a good amp and speakers. The x14 is also part of a bundle which includes the cd ripper. Now the x14 is a bit more expensive, but if it turns out that it's easier to use and performs better then I'm happy to pay the extra.

All help is much appreciated, cheers guys.
 
If you're going to be using a separate amplifier I was curious why you would want something that has an inbuilt amplifier? Can you expand on why you want these devices?
And I think Cocktail Audio are now NovaFidelity
 

Ubadigada

Active member
Oct 30, 2020
12
2
25
I want a device that rips cds, stores them, plays them & has a user interface. The reason I'm getting an additional amplifier is because of the improved sound options & speaker options. The cocktail's amplifier is known for having poor sound quality, like wise the Brennan. My budget is limited to under £800, so these two tick all the above boxes.
And as for the names, cocktail audio & novafidelity, they are both still in use, strange but true!
 

Longchops

Well-known member
Oct 15, 2020
137
55
170
I've often looked at those brennans, its a good idea.....I think the separate CD drive on the other one looks a bit naff for that price though
 

Ubadigada

Active member
Oct 30, 2020
12
2
25
I know what you mean, it's a shame the ripper's not built in, like the Brennan's.
At the moment I probably am slightly favouring the Brennan, better price, made in England, and many positive reviews. The only thing really putting me off it is the interface! It looks as though it would be that little bit more awkward locating a specific album/track than the cocktail. Plus I like the fact the cocktail has the album artwork on its larger interface, which I accept is entirely superficial & unimportant.
Has anybody on here owned or used the cocktail/Novafidelity x14?
 

Romulus

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2014
130
61
18,670
I have a Cocktail AudioX10 connected to Monitor Audio BX1 speakers in my kitchen. I have had the system for at least 6years or more. Its a cracking little system and the Cocktail Audio X10 is a lovely ripper, internet radio and amplifier (I believe it can also do streaming but I never use this option) The pros is the absolute comprehensive use, when I listen to music I can flick from genre to genre in a heart beat. All my new Cds are ripped to the ripper (my storage is 2TB) and the screen giving details of the music being played is so efficient. Some recorded music comes over really well. The cons when sometimes in the process of ripping a cd the whole components really shakes and rattles along, I have grown completely use to this because the end product (playing the ripped Cd) seems to be completely unaffected. Sometimes when starting the component the screen asks if you want to upload new upgrade to frimware Yes or No; I pressed yes and to my horror all my saved music on hardware disappeared. After online research and going on Cocktail Audio forum I managed to regain my lost music. Never again will I say yes to upgrades, and I don't really need them in practice.. There is always the worry that I have not done any back up but to date (fingers crossed) it is still working. With ripped Cds I always choose WAV and even today I still have plenty of space left on hardware for more Cds.

To conclude, this is a cracking little system where storage of music is nearly spot on and more importantly it sounds fine with most recordings and when Leonard Cohen sings I think he is in the room!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gray and Al ears
I have a Cocktail AudioX10 connected to Monitor Audio BX1 speakers in my kitchen. I have had the system for at least 6years or more. Its a cracking little system and the Cocktail Audio X10 is a lovely ripper, internet radio and amplifier (I believe it can also do streaming but I never use this option) The pros is the absolute comprehensive use, when I listen to music I can flick from genre to genre in a heart beat. All my new Cds are ripped to the ripper (my storage is 2TB) and the screen giving details of the music being played is so efficient. Some recorded music comes over really well. The cons when sometimes in the process of ripping a cd the whole components really shakes and rattles along, I have grown completely use to this because the end product (playing the ripped Cd) seems to be completely unaffected. Sometimes when starting the component the screen asks if you want to upload new upgrade to frimware Yes or No; I pressed yes and to my horror all my saved music on hardware disappeared. After online research and going on Cocktail Audio forum I managed to regain my lost music. Never again will I say yes to upgrades, and I don't really need them in practice.. There is always the worry that I have not done any back up but to date (fingers crossed) it is still working. With ripped Cds I always choose WAV and even today I still have plenty of space left on hardware for more Cds.

To conclude, this is a cracking little system where storage of music is nearly spot on and more importantly it sounds fine with most recordings and when Leonard Cohen sings I think he is in the room!
I hope not as unfortunately he is long gone...... :)
 

Gray

Well-known member
Long ago I had one of the full sized Cocktail Audio units (without built-in amp) on home loan.
Its many functions appealed to me and there was nothing wrong with its sound.
I was however unimpressed by the feel of the controls / build quality and had to wonder about its long-term reliability. Another retailer told me they'd evaluated and had chosen not to stock the brand.

I note what Romulus has said about his X10 though, so the Nova brand is likely to have improved since I first tried one.
(And I'd challenge anyone to find a more comprehensive device in terms of facilities, than their latest full sized flagship).

Brennan too looks a more attractive proposition than when I first considered getting one of theirs.

I can see the appeal of such devices. Good luck with your choice.
 

huesero

Active member
Sep 7, 2021
1
2
25
I did a lot of reading about both of these units as I really wanted the best of both worlds, a dedicated streamer that could do more than one service, as well as internet radio, and could rip ALL my CD's for my own collection, and play back in my own private database, and also have the ability to record.

Both units claim to have similar capabilities, except for the record other media function is unique to the Novatron. The Brennan is actually more like an x-10 or x-12 with the CD player built into the unit, as opposed to peripherally optioned for the x-14. Peripheral has its advantages over built ins. If the CD player/recorder breaks, and it will, your'e looking at a much higher repair bill for a built in, and maybe not repairable at all. Yes you can always add another one on to the back,but then you've robbed one of your other inputs. And then there is the dead slot, which bugs me personally. The reviews on this are self evident that the Brennan CD player will not hold up to a continuous ripping environment and will fail. Which is probably why Novatron removed it for the x-14 as well. Even the Brennan company advises using an add on unit to preserve the function of their cheaply designed CD player. But we are only talking about a $10-100 CD player. This point could be moot, unless it reflects similar design flaws within. (I tested a $10 Kangaroo vs. a $100 toshiba, and frankly, I couldn't tell the difference, but I think the toshiba will hold up better. Downside is sucking up 2 usb slots for the power on both. There are other self powered un its out there that only use 1 usb slot. Both suffer from using slow USB-A as opposed to the faster USB-C.

As far as customer service goes, for me this was a big issue for new electronics. I read that Novatron was faster in responding than Brennan, but that could be anecdotal. Novatron is made in Korea, Brennan in the UK. I actually like the idea of supporting private innovating entrepreneurs like Brennan, but when it comes to service, I think the bigger company delivers.

The x-14 backside is much nicer and has more input/output options. As well as wired or wireless internet options with the optional USB dongle. With the Brennan, you actually have to take off the back plate to find the ethernet plug and then carefully run it out through a slot as you put the plate back on. This is hokey IMHO. Why reinvent the wheel?

The screen is bigger on the x-14 and seemingly more user friendly than the Brennan, but probably comparable. I like the CD art icons displayed on the x-14 during play, as well as for cataloguing and searching, which is more like a jukebox style, rather than just lists.

The speaker jacks are more conventional on the x-14. They both are designed for 8 ohms. Be very weary about claims that they will handle less, lest you fry your amp, which is only about 15 watts/channel on these units.

It appears that the x-14 may transmit a more reliable wifi signal to be used wirelessly with another receiver connected to another analogue or digital amplifier, but I haven't tried it yet. You can do wired connection pre-amp outputs using analogue or digital on both, which is great for interconnecting with existing audio stereo/amplifier systems and multiple surround speakers with more power. Both don't recommend using wireless speakers, but it might be more possible with the x-14?

Anyway, as stated above, the reviews for the Brennan seem more scathing than the x-14, but in all fairness, depending on the site, they only pull about 2-3 stars max. So they are not perfect machines, and their hardware/software environment is fairly simplistic and somewhat primitive. After all, the Brennan is built on a raspberry platform circuit board, the same one used to teach kids about computing.

The biggest difference is the hardisk memory capacity. The x-14 can take up to 8 TB, whereas the Brennan only about 1-2 TB max. And the cheaper models of the latter only use SD memory cards, which to me seems like a rip-off. Yes you have to buy the disc or sshd on the x-14 separately and install it yourself, but its very easy, and the company will walk you through it. To me it was worth it. And the price is cheap for 1-2 TB. And if you want to increase later, you can import the pre-existing DB. You cant do that with the Brennan.

So, for me the choice was logical, I went with the x-14. But if I had more money to invest, I would have went for the x-50. I'm waiting for the touch screen version ;-)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gray and jjbomber

Romulus

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2014
130
61
18,670
Just to confirm since my last post I still have the Cocktail Audio X10 system in my kitchen and joining Leonard Cohen is Jimi Hendrix playing in the kitchen!
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Gray

Roger_A

Well-known member
Mar 31, 2010
26
21
18,545
My brother has the Novafidelity X14 (Cocktail audio outside the UK) and he's very pleased with it especially with the range of functions which has enabled him to digitise his vinyl collection without additional phono preamps. He tells me (I haven't heard it yet) that he really rates the unit and that in his opinion the sound quality using the builtin amps betters his previous Audiolab amp.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts