As with any product in audio, you're probably going to get a range of answers.
I've had a Squeezebox Touch as my only music source on my system since they came out almost 2 years ago. (And I've had other Squeezebox players for almost 10 years now.)
My opinion is they are an incredibly good player, especially given they sell for $300 and under. I previously had a Nad 542 CD player and compared its playback quite a bit with my prior Squeezebox Classic / Lavry DAC combo and could not reliably tell the difference. I sold the Nad and haven't looked back.
After I got the Touch, I ran the same comparison with the Classic/Lavry (synced and level matched) and found I again couldn't tell the difference.
So, I sold the Lavry and moved the Classic Squeezebox to my second system. I've had zero urge to change anything since, other than just adding more music to my collection.
Others are certainly going to give you a different opinion.
My point is that you should get a Touch for yourself and run your own comparison. I believe Logitech still has a money-back guarantee if you're not happy.
As for cables, that's something you'll also need to experiment with to find what works best for you.
Thanks for the great responses. Thanks Mlsstl, that is exactly the kind of information I have been looking for. The Squeezebox seems to get great reviews everywhere I look. Do you use itunes and Media Monkey as I do or any other suggestions. Thanks again.
Another point to make is that the Squeezebox can be modified to approach many reference CD players. Modding services such as Bolder can improve the analog and digital outputs as well as the power supply. The mods aren't cheap, but neither are those reference level CD players.
"The mods aren't cheap, but neither are those reference level CD players."
have had two opportunities to listen to SB based systems and both fell well short of the cd player in the same system (sony 5400 and rotel something?). sorry but it wasn't really even close.
no doubt that other set-ups could yield other conclusions but this has been my limited experience with it. for the money spent....the SB seems like a great value but it didn't appeal to me much sound quality wise.
THe DAC in the newer TOuch is supposedly better than prior models and some have praised it, especially for the price.
I use external DACs only. TOuch + good external DAC to personal taste is hard to fault IMHO.
I'll second Mapman's comment. The SB3/Classic and Duet models were fairly good mid-fi in terms of sound quality. They improved substantially with the use of an external DAC.
The Touch is significantly better by itself. I know some still prefer an external DAC, but as noted, I ran a side-by-side, synced and level-matched comparison between the Touch and a Lavry DAC for several weeks. I routinely found myself unable to tell which was playing unless I checked the position of the input selector on the amp.
Now, that may be due to my pedestrian system, aging ears or utter lack of audiophile sophistication, but I'm enjoying my music.
With a relatively low up-front cost and the money-back guarantee, it strikes me as a pretty easy decision to find out for one's self.
The SBT hits way above its weight class when used with a high end outboard DAC. For something that costs less than the tax on some people's interconnects, its well worth trying it out. I'm using it with a nice quality DAC and I'm continually impressed by it.
I think a good external dac would make a huge difference. Neither system I heard fit that bill.
I own both the Denon universal player that you own and the SBT.
The Denon is better and of course you cannot play sacd or DVD-a on the SBT. The SBT is still a great value but it does sound just slightly veiled when used with the same Dac that I use with the 2930 for reb book cd.
I'm not familiar with your Denon player, but I have a Rotel RCD1072, used to retail at $800 and was talked highly for its price, and a Touch. I use the analog outs of both into my Lamm LL2 pre and Mc MC275 amp, and B&W 804S speakers. Certainly not a super-system, but decent for many people.
When playing a ripped CD using dBpoweramp and lossless settings vs playing the same cd on the Rotel, I cannot hear any difference. Then of course I can play 24/96 material on the Touch which sounds great, but cannot compare to the Rotel. Suffice to say since purchasing the Touch this January I have not been using the Rotel and likely to sell it.
Next step is the outboard DAC, as noted here before. Note that besides the mods mentioned, there is a free set of mods you can do (settings, software) supplied by member Soundcheck. Haven't tried them, but people report significant improvements.
Go for it!!
The Logitech is veiled. I love it, but compared to my other digital sources, it has a blanket over it.
I highly recommend installing SoundCheck's software mod and his recommendation of using a linear power supply and ethernet cable. His mod disables the wireless which aides in improving the sound. On his blog, he a has very detailed step by step instructions on how to install. Take no longer than 10-20min to get installed.
The veiled sound people say is the stock sound. The SoundCheck software mod and disabling wireless gets rid of the veiled sound. There is still debate about the linear power supply. In my system, it made a difference. I was getting clicking sounds from the switching power supply that came with the SBT.
Even after the mods are installed, you can still tweak to your liking such as the buffer and SPDIF process priority. If you read the Logitech SBT forum, there are some good suggestions. Again, in my system, just changing the buffer value from 3400 to 4000 made the mid-range fill more solid (3D) and more warmth and texture to the instruments. The default 3400 made my system very smooth silky like, but lost a little dynamics. Sorry for rambling, but as you can tell, there is a lot of flexibility in the SBT software & hardware. For the value and the convenience of being able to scan your entire library at your fingertips, you can't beat it.
My sound with sb touch is not veiled and I use wireless. Wireless should have no effect on sound quality. What is the reasoning behind claims that wireless is veiled?
It may not sound veiled at first, but once you apply SoundCheck's mod that disables wireless you will discover how more transparent and detailed the sound gets. Veiled may not be the correct term to use if you are using wireless but you will know what I mean once you try the software mod. From what I understand from SoundCheck's philosophy, you improve the sound quality by having less services running. Believe me, I was skeptical at first being a developer, but his mods do make a difference. With his mods, you can disable and enable each of the mods to make your own conclusion on what best suits your system and ears.
To get around using the SBT wireless since I didn't want to wire the house with long run ethernet cable, I bought a bridge/ethernet to wireless adapter from Netgear. Even though I'm running wireless, the SBT touch doesn't have to run it's wireless service and turn on it's internal wifi radio that could interfere with the inner workings.
Here is the url to his blog so you can read up on his mod and philosophy. http://soundcheck-audio.blogspot.com/
Most of the info on that blob appears to be pure conjecture.
Could not find anything that discounted wireless.
The things I read that might make a predictable difference is choice of ic out, and nothing shocking there and maybe power supply but I would not expect much difference from that.
wireless has nothing to do with it imho. many of us get outstanding results wireless. bits be bits right? LOL!
once again, it's all about what you're using and how it's put together. set-up is what it boils down to. that being said.... seems like the obvious and most logical way to improve an inexpensive digital front is by upgrading the dac. it's almost like the situation with the ipod and the dac bypass docs available (wadia ect..). upgrading the dac processing makes a world of difference when compared to the on-board dac in the ipod (uncompressed downloads or similar).
I didn't say the wireless was veiled. I had said the squeezebox touch is veiled. Didn't matter in my system if it was hard wired or wireless. I have the Channel Island PS, Revelation Audio Embilicle and had it going into a Tara Labs The One Digital into a Berkeley Dac (direct to amps). Not a shabby set up. I had loved the sound and after installing Esoteric Clock/upsampler, it was a close second to my Esoteric Xo3 SE. I came across an ESI Juli@ and installed that along with J River 16/asio direct to Berkeley (and then Esoteric Clock/upsampler/Berkeley), and it is obvious, to me, that the Squeeze Box Touch was very veiled. It lacks in dynamics and fails to reveal the lowest level of detail thats crucial in an emotional musical experience. It is not very resolving at 16/44. The soundstage is flatter. (instrument/vocal placement is excellent, so is left to right soundstaging, just flat(er). I still love it. I have two set up in other systems and thoroughly enjoy them - the Touch is just no longer the center peice of my digital front end. YMMV.
I own a Squeezebox Transporter that I used to run wireless exclusively and thought there was nothing more to be gained by changing to a hard wired setup. THEN, one day, I decided to give the Ethernet connection a try after doing research on all the ways a wireless signal can be compromised for the purposes of audio.
The SQ difference between wireless and wired is not subtle in my experience with these devices. I now run "Wired" exclusively and am very happy I decided to try it in that configuration. Sure it's more inconvenient and not as aesthetically pleasing as wireless but that can be addressed by installing a dedicated CAT5 drop behind your equipment rack.
There are countless posts on various forums that discuss the reasons why ÂWiredÂ is the way to go. Some of these posts are by well respected manufacturers who have the capital and equipment to use any connectivity method they want but are most interested in the best way possible.
Airborne electrical interferences found rampant throughout most homes today is just one of the many reasons why wireless is a compromised connectivity method. If you feel this is all smoke and mirrors then give it a try for yourself or just carry on happily with blinders
IME, the difference was easily noticeable in favor of "wired" but of course this is totally dependant on how revealing the rest of your equipment is.
Eniac...although i can't comment on the SB wireless vs wired, i can tell you my PWD sounds the same both ways. blanket statements like yours rarely hold true. you may be right regarding the SB's wireless shortcomings (i don't know). i can tell you you're wrong regarding wireless in general. you might want to reconsider using the word "blinders". seems you're the one wearing them from where i sit.
IMO, if you have a SBT and haven't tried Soundcheck's TT3 mod, then you are really missing out. It may not make sense why wireless being disabled has any SQ affects or any of the mods, but this is one of those where you have to let your ears be the judge. It only takes about 10min to install. If you don't like, you can do a factory reset and be back to where you were. On the SB forums, there are a couple of users who try to do measurements to disprove. The numbers make sense, but when you listen it's the complete opposite. I'm not trying to start a flame war on wired vs wireless or sounding like a Soundcheck fanboy, but this is one of those you have to hear it for yourself and make your own judgement if there is an improvement or not.
Another great thing about the mod is that it is free unless you choose to donate to his development.
Have you tried the mod to disable wireless when using SB TOuch with an external DAC? I wonder if the mod has any impact there?
A scenario where the onboard DAC might benefit due to less RF noise or something along that line perhaps would not surprise me, but not when a physically separated outboard DAC is used.
Myself, I have never used the onboard DAC so I have no experience there to say. But the sound with the outboard DAC is competitive with the best digital rigs I have heard anywhere I would say, so I am not so convinced there.
IF what I suspect is true, then use of an outboard DAC with Touch is a much more practical, straightforward and supportable solution than mods to the device itself.
I do use an external DAC. What you mean by "tried mod to disable wireless" always adds confusion on the SB forums. So we are on the same page, when I say disabling the wireless mod actually means the wireless radio is ON. When you try the mod and do a tt -s, you will know what I mean. In my setup, I have the wireless mod enabled which means the wireless radio is OFF. I have compared the the two and having the wireless radio OFF (mod enabled) made a big improvement in my system. The music was smoother, less digital hash/grain, and transparent.
Like you, I have never used the onboard DAC only with an external DAC. I agree with you that SBT+external DAC is comptetitive more expensive setups, but the mods did bring the SBT to another level in my system. (**Warning bold statement/opinion coming up**) I truly believe the SBT with the mods can compete with transports costing in the 2-3K range and SBT+mod+external dac competing with CD players in the 5K range.
Another great thing about the mods, you can tune to your liking. I compare it to having different filters on the DAC. With different combinations of mods disabled/enabled, you get a different flavor of sound. Some good, some bad depending on the combination. If you go to the SB forum under the Audiophile section, you will read about the different results and peoples settings.
Based upon your responses and reading your thread on your system setup, it seems you haven't tried the mod. You may have your reasons for not trying them which is fine. I just think you are missing out :)
PS. Not trying to be rude, but don't want to clog up the thread with us going back and forth on why wireless should or shouldn't make a difference. I'd be happy to discuss on a separate thread so we can keep this one on track.
Back to addressing, the ops original question, IMHO, the SB Touch out of the box and even more so with and external DAC is highly competitive with some of the best digital rigs I have heard out there at any cost. So I would start there.
Then if for some reason you think there is more needed, and you have the appetite to customize, you might try some of the blogged custom software tweaks referred to and see what if anything might happen from there.
SB Touch is a win/win no matter what in comparison to CD players in general as long as you are comfortable with teh basic idea of getting into computer audio and understand the potential benefits.
Otherwise, just keep things simple and stick with a CD player and be done with it.
BTW, I just added a second SB Touch to my other system in my family room today in addition to the one I have been running in my main rig for several months now and to teh SB Radio I use in my bedroom.
Thanks again for all the great responses. I am looking forward to trying the SBT as it seems like such a great value. They can be had new for about $200 now (or a little more)seems like it is worth a try. I would still keep my Universal Player & use both, why not?
TM, good luck. We'll be interested in your findings. Let me know if I can be of any help with the Touch.
Thanks Mapman (and everyone else who contributed here). I am now looking for a super deal on one. My goal is to pick up a brand new one for about $210 or so which I think is gonna be possible soon . I will let you know the results. I will start out using it totally stock (with no DAC) & get a point of reference from there. I will be streaming ripped CD's via FLAC files on Media Monkey, and WAV & AIFF files from itunes to start. Also will be streaming Radio Paradise MP3 192 Kbps internet radio. Should be fun.
Good luck and I think you will be fairly impressed with the Touch on it's own. But it really needs an outboad DAC to shine. I use Media Monkey to sync my iPod, but you really won't even need it to stream to the SB. You will use the Logitech Server software bypassing any other file management system.
The things I read that might make a predictable difference is choice of ic out, and nothing shocking there and maybe power supply but I would not expect much difference from that.
Mapman, I would suggest you give an upgraded, non-switching power supply a try. When I added a Bolder modded power supply to my Squeezbox 3, it made a very noticable improvement. Deeper, tighter bass and more extended, airy highs.
I have finally purchased a SBT. I am liking it so far. I am using it stock currently to have a point of reference. The sound is good but have not done any serious comparisons yet. Will update it's status in the near future. Thanks everyone!
Tune_man, How much did you pay and from where?
I paid $231 (free shipping) from Amazon. The price seems to be a lot higher now. I purchased mine at the end of February.
I am really enjoying it. Very convenient and sounds good.
I run a SBT - Peachtree DACiT -- Jolida 302 -- Tyler Acoustics speakers.
I used to have a Jolida JD100a CD player. For the most part I could not tell the difference between SBT+DAC and the Jolida CD player (a $1,000 unit). There were subtle differences in the sound but I could not tell that one was better or worse.
I no longer have a CD player -- are files are FLAC.
Have had the SBT now for 9 months and am loving it. Am running it stock through the analog outs to my preamp. Sounds a little veiled in comparison to my Denon DVD-2930ci but pretty close overall. Thought I would use both players equally but the convenience of the SBT makes me use it 85% of the time. I am running it wireless and it works great with 100% wireless signal strength most of the time. I ripped my CD's using JRiver (FLAC & WAV)and are stored on an external HD.
I purchased at a good time as the price has skyrocketed as of late. Thanks for all the great comments!