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Logitech Squeezebox Touch

Highest quality wireless audio streamer in its price class, April 15, 2010
By
C. Razzell “dsdreamer” (California, United States)

I purchased my Squeezebox Touch directly from Logitech, and have enjoyed it enough over the first few days of ownership to write a quick review.

To understand where I’m coming from, it may help to know I enjoy classical music, especially when its reproduced by a traditional stereo system with high quality discrete components. I own a British designed and built integrated amplifier and some tall floor-standing speakers from a Canadian manufacturer. Sound quality matters a whole lot to my enjoyment of music, and that shows in the care with which I select the components in my audio system.

I have owned a number of Logitech’s previous Squeezebox WiFi streamers, including the Squeezebox Classic and some Duet receivers, so I am not new to the Squeezebox ecosystem. I keep my music collection as a large library of FLAC-encoded files, so as to avoid any potential losses due to codec compression artifacts.

On receiving my new Squeezebox Touch, I swapped out an existing “Slimdevices” branded classic Squeezebox in my main HiFi system for the new device. The Squeezebox Touch first discovered MySqueezebox.com as its source of music and asked me to provide login credentials, which caused it to upgrade its firmware from that site. After that, it rebooted and was able to connect to my local Squeezebox Server that I have running to serve music around the house. After that, I was able to browse my music collection and navigate to internet radio stations either using the touch interface or by using the supplied remote control.

I noticed that the interface automatically uses bigger fonts if you are controlling it from the IR remote and smaller ones if it finds you are controlling it via the touchscreen, which obviously makes sense when you are within an arm’s length of the display.

As a first test, I played back a 96kHz, 24-bit high resolution copy of Marianne Thorsen on violin with the TrondheimSolistene playing Mozart’s D-major Violin Concerto. At first I played the tracks via a Benchmark DAC1, which is a studio-quality monitoring DAC for use by mixing engineers. The sound was detailed, rich with a deep stereo image and musically involving. Next, I removed the Benchmark DAC from the signal path and tried again. Once again the sound was clearly better than a CD could provide and very close to that rendered through the Benchmark DAC. There has clearly been an improvement to the quality of the analog stereo outputs compared to previous Squeezebox versions, which was already pretty good.

I then went on to listen to Emanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma playing some Mendelssohn Piano Trios. This recording was “only” in 16-bit/44.1kHz CD quality audio, nevertheless I was soon captivated by the musicality of the performance, and could find no significant short comings of the quality as rendered by the built-in DACs compared to the external, studio quality Benchmark DAC1.

Someone starting to use this system without prior experience of Squeezebox Servers or software might face something of a learning curve to begin with. I can’t speak to that, but I appreciate that I was able to drop this new device into an existing system and, within a few minutes, start to enjoy some very high quality reproduction of my music library.

The advantages over the previous Squeezebox Classic are:
* Color, touch-controlled user interface and display
* Ability to play back high resolution music without loss of quality
* Excellent audio quality from the analog outputs; significantly better than previous versions.

Another possible advantage is to use the Squeezebox Touch as a music server as well as a client, by attaching a USB hard drive to the supplied USB port. I have not tested this functionality, so I can’t comment on how well it works. This review was mainly focussed on sound quality.

Based on my short experience, I recommend this device highly. I think it is a worthy successor to the Squeezebox Classic, as it provides significantly more in terms user interface and sound quality for the same retail price as the older player.

View Original Review here


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