Thanks James for opening this topic up. In my view, to really open it up, the question should be: going forward what is the best user interface for Bryston digital products? To me, it will not be any form of web interface like MM, except perhaps as an interface for deep-admin type settings that are used only intermittently.
At a high level, the basic problem is that the web interface is nowhere near the level of excellence of Bryston hardware, and causes a disconnect in the user experience. It is unfriendly, poorly organized, lacks many basic functions and is rather ugly to look at – all the things that Bryston hardware is not. In the new world of digital music and streaming, the interface is what you interact with, and search with, and explore the world of your music choices with. It should be front and centre with buyers, and it should be at the same level of design excellence as the hardware, and it is simply not. The standard that has evolved in this sector, is not a web access, it is an app (or apps) accessed via smartphone or tablet – properly developed, these are what users enjoy using as controls.
I happen to have chosen to use Berrie’s media player apps almost exclusively over my 7 years with the Bryston BDP; Mpad when it was out, and now Rigelian. These, like the apps developed by virtually all of Bryston’s competitors in the digital streaming sector, share these key design elements:
- An album-art graphic centred experience that needs no manual
- full use of metadata tags to allow multiple sorts of this graphic representation of users’ music
- in particular access to instant sorting by Album, Artist, Genre, Composer, and Performer tags are all useful depending on the users’ music types
- a simple and intuitive design with sort choices in a left column, and the majority of the screen devoted to the album graphics
- streaming service choices are usually integrated in the same left column, again providing constant visibility and rapid access – streaming is integrated with users own music
- many apps pull Artist information from web sources like last.fm, providing a sort of Roon-like additional layer
While Rigelian and other MPD players work well, they by necessity cannot fully integrate with Bryston equipment since they are universal – and there is something lost there as full access to streaming platforms requires going back to Manic Moose.
I note that both James and the initial poster use a folder directory to navigate – that is fine if people want to do that, but it competely misses the sorting and organizational options that rich file metadata provide. Sometimes I want to cruise a genre, sometimes I want to search a composer, sometimes an artist…. I think the majority of digital music users do have their metadata sorted, and they want to use it in a visually satisfying way.
I understand that app development is a resource and cost – nonetheless talent in this field is out there even if it is not in-house right now. Berrie from Rigelian as an example, I’m sure there are others. Is there a shared approach eg. a joint venture of sorts, that could work with another maker? But I feel that until Bryston makes available in some fashion their own app interface, the excellence of the Bryston designs will be undercut. As an example, Aurender promotes its excellent Conductor app alongside their hardware – can we imagine Bryston doing that with Manic Moose?
Lastly I would caution Bryston just relying on this forum as a measure of satisfaction for the web interface; I note that few of the posters in the initial years of the BDP-1 FAQ thread appear to be around – would be interested to know if the interface was a part of their leaving, but we will likely never know.