DACs

Logitech Squeezebox Touch Wireless Music Streamer

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

The first thing I did with the Touch was to log in to my Pandora account and start streaming my Radiohead channel into my main system. While not a high resolution source by any means, the wonderful convenience of having Pandora available so easily, and be introduced to new artists, was a wonderful benefit. Next I wanted to test the streaming of Internet Radio, so I brought up my favorite station, KEXP in Seattle, and had it going in no time. The ability to easily type in what I was searching for made finding the stations from the Touch very quick and easy. Usually I find Internet Radio to be too much of a pain to use on streaming solutions, but on the Touch it was just incredibly easy.

Now that I had gotten started, I wanted to see how streaming content from my NAS would go. Before when streaming FLAC, or FLAC transcoded to PCM or WAV, I have run into bandwidth issues and have stuttering or pauses in tracks. My network hasn't changed since this has happened, so if it was the fault of the network and not the player, that should still be the case. However, in all my listening to FLAC since I got the Touch, I still have yet to have a pause or stutter during track playback. The Touch seems to do a very good job of bufffering enough of the track, but not having a large gap between songs to rebuffer as many players often do. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought I was listening to physical media, since there were none of the interruptions I had encountered before.

I went back to my usual test track, Reckoner from Radiohead, to see how the Touch sounded. To make the comparison as fair as possible, I used the digital output of the Touch and the digital output of my Oppo BDP-83 into my NAD receiver, so the DAC inside of the two products wouldn't be used, and I could just compare if the Touch was functioning correctly as a transport. Switching back and forth between the Touch and Oppo inputs, I could tell no difference between the two. The Touch seemed to be working perfectly as a bit-for-bit transport on lossless audio files, so if I was using the digital output, the results would be the same as they would from the Oppo.

Next, I wanted to see how the output of the analog outputs was and so I decided to compare the same track again, only this time using the analog outputs of the Oppo and the Touch. In this case the Oppo was the winner, seeming to extract a little bit more detail out of the music than the Touch did. When Thom Yorke went for a high note, there was a bit more extension from the Oppo, but without being overly bright or harsh. The Touch did a very good job still, and I'd have no problem using the analog outputs from it, but the AKM4420 DAC wasn't quite as resolving as the DAC insite of the Oppo.

Moving through my library on the Touch was a very easy job as well. My issue with previous devices that I had used is that they worked great with a small library, such as on my wife's computer, but as soon as it moved to my full library, with hundreds of CD's, and almost a thousand different artists, navigation was a chore. Some of this is due to the design of DLNA and that the specification doesn't really have a good standard for working with a library that large. Since the Touch uses it's own server software, they can get around this and design it however they want, though of course that means it's designed just to work with another Squeezebox product. Here we can see some screenshots that illustrate the interface and use of the Touch. Scrolling through artists by hand, or with the remote is easily as you just drag the screen, use the up/down arrows, or type a letter on the remote. If you hold it down, a large letter appears in the middle of the screen as the scroll speed increases, so you can get to the artist or album you are searching for.

After I reach the artist I was after (Radiohead, in this case), I get a list of all their albums to scroll through that works in the same way as the previous screens. Once I start playing a track, I am presented with the playback screen, which has two configurations: The remote view, with less information that is easier to read from a distance which is automatically selected if you are using the remote, or the detailed view, which presents more information (track controls, Thumbs Up or Down ratings for Pandora) and is selected if you are using the screen for input. There are additional views available (analog power meters, visualizations) if you wish, though I preferred to stay with the information screen so I could see what was playing.

Later that week I wanted to listen to a podcast that I typically download to my laptop or iPhone, but I wanted to be able to have it on in the background while I worked on something else. I decided to see if I could get it on the Touch, so I simply went to Internet Radio, searched for a couple words in the Podcast, and the most recent episodes showed up. In under a minute, they were ready to stream. My initial hope with the Touch was that I could just easily stream the music from my computer to it, but now I've found that it can go out and find all the music and audio streams that I listen to: My CD library, internet radio stations, podcasts, and Pandora. I can't wait for football season to start again so I can stream the broadcasts of Oregon State football without being tied down to my laptop.