Stereophile Rated the Sqeezebox Touch Class D


Stereophile Rated the Sqeezebox Touch as Class D.
I cant believe it!

I read both Audiophile and Stereophile reviews. Both reviews appeared to really like the Squeezebox Touch.

I personally have my Sqeezebox Touch digital going into my Cary 306 Pro and I beleive the sound quality in Apple Lossloss to be as good as when I play a CD through it.

I guess because the Touch only costs $299, according to the so called reviewers it cant be better than a class D.
Thats Garbage, I say.
ozzy
Maybe they were talking about the analog out from it? Is anyone listening to the analog out? I am, but just in a bedroom system, and I'm not sure how resolving it is. I do know that I'm getting some digital "hash" from the power supply (heard on some more sensitive amplifiers), and I'm hoping to fix that with a power supply upgrade.

What do people think about it's performance w/ analog and w/ digital?
If you like the sound of a component that Stereophile has rated low, and if the low rating is bothersome, then ignore the rating.
Peter_s, I think the digital out is superior to the analog outs.

Tvad, Thanks for your comment, but its hard to ignore when it seems so wrong.
I suspect the Squeezebox Touch is simply too inexpensive to rate much higher regardless of performance.

A couple of years back the Transporter was rated Class A. I've been a Squeezebox user for about 9 years now and have used everything from the SliMP3 to the Transporter in my home system. I couldn't justify the cost of the Transporter in my system compared to a SB3 with an external DAC (Lavry) so used the latter combo for several years.

When the Touch came out I compared the Touch (with analog outs) back-to-back with my SB3/Lavry combo. The two options were synced and level matched and I more often than not couldn't tell which was playing unless I looked at the input selector switch on the amp. I ended up moving the Touch by itself in my main system, sold the Lavry and moved the SB3 to my second system. I haven't looked back since.

Of course, some audiophiles chase shadows in an ethereal zone that doesn't interest me much. I enjoy a wide variety of music on my system and I've never found myself wishing for a different source. I agree with Tvad - if you enjoy your system, don't waste your time worrying what the elites are thinking.
Here we go again with a bad case of audiophile anxiety.

Stereophile releases their ratings and some poor audiophool gets all wound up because they didn't bless what he bought and likes. I too used to be that way. My component dropped into class B or off the list and I would stew about it until I had to upgrade. That was until I figured out if sounded good to me I couldn't care less what Stereophile thinks. There's nothing in my system that I know of on any of their lists and I couldn't be happier.

If it upsets you when your stuff isn't highly ranked then quit reading the lists.

.

.
Their rankings aren't A-F like a report card. D doesn't mean it's a "bad" rating. ANYTHING on their recommended list is going to be a good piece of equipment.
Nobody is going to pay any attention to that rating, because they'll be too distracted by the Vincent ad on the adjacent page :-)

Best regards,
-- Al
The rating does seems inconsistent with the review in the same issue. There's much praise for the sound when connected via the digital out. The sound from the analog outs is criticized as a step or two down by comparison, but comparable to the analog out sound of the Oppo 83. But the Oppo is graded a class B product. It doesn't make sense.
Mlsstl, I somewhat agree with you.

Herman, you are missing the point. Look at my posted system. With all the $$$ I have spent on it and then along comes this $299 Sqeezebox Touch that can do everything my expensive CD Player can and it gets tossed into a class D rating. I believe that is just wrong. I personally think it is because of its low cost.

Synthfreek , the ratings mean something or a rating scale would not be used.

Almarg, I noticed her, very nice. She seems to have a frown on her face though. Probably the sqeezebox rating.

Onhwy61 , Yes your right.

Below is my comments on a posting on another site and below that is John Atkinson (Stereophile) reply.
___________________________________________________________ My comments

The Touch is made to be also used as a digital transport.
The Cary 306 Pro is rated Class A.
Playing the Touch through the same Cary Dac and with the results being equal sound quality, then it should have given a class A rating also.

The reviewer Kal Rubinson stated today on the Sqeezebox forum that the rating was just wrong.
He stated that he never rated, because at the time he was asked to rate it he only had it for a few days. He went on to state that he suggested to just add comments to see the review in the issue.
Somehow, someone who never reviewed the Touch then placed it in class D.

Also, guess what now, Kal's comments have been deleted.

Come On John, just because the Touch is only $299 dont change the facts.

___________________________________________________________
And John Atkinsons reply

>The Touch is made to be also used as a digital transport.

Yes, but that is not its primary use.

>John Atkinson, the Cary 306 Pro is rated Class A. Playing the Touch through the same Cary Dac and with the results being equal sound quality, then it should have given a class A rating also.

In your opinion, not mine. The rating I decide on for a product when I receive feedback from the review team is based on its unmodified performance in its fundamental role. That is can be made to sound better with, for exmaple, an upgraded power supply, or a modification to its firmware, or by using, as you have done an expensive outbard DAC is not something I take into account. (Though these things are mentioned in the review and will be mentioned in the accompnaying blurb in the next
"Recommended Components" listing.) Note that the entry for the Touch in "Recommended Components" specifically said "see KR's review in this issue."

>The reviewer Kal Rubinson stated today on the Sqeezebox forum that the rating was just wrong.

He subsequently deleted that posting

>He stated that he never rated, because at the time he was asked to rate it he only had it for a few days.

Stereophile's reviewers don't decide the ratings in "Recommended Components," I do, based on _all_ their comments both in their review and in private discussions and correspondence.

>He went on to state that he suggested to just add comments to see the review in the issue.

We don't list conventional products in "Recommended Components" without a rating, so Kal's request was not feasible.

>Somehow, someone who never reviewed the Touch then placed it in class D.

Not correct. While Kal wrote the formal review, we had three review samples of the Touch at the magazine. I decided on the rating based on Kal's description of the Touch's sound quality in the review used from its
analog outputs and on my own experience of using it, again from its analog outputs.

>Also, guess what now, Kal's comments have been deleted.

That was Kal's decision. Personally, I don't feel it approriate for a Stereophile writer to post private communications on the Web, but I didn't ask him to delete the post.

>Come On John, just because the Touch is only $299 dont change the facts.

I haven't. All is see is yet another example of someone annoyed that his favorite new toy has not got the highest possible rating in
Stereophile's "Recomended Components" listing. And please remember that even in Class D, that means we _recommend_ the product. The Touch is a great product at a great price. But by itself, it doens not deliver the
highest possible sound quality, which is what a Class A rating would mean.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile
Atkinson's rationale makes sense to me. He/they rated it by itself, not with an asterisk next to it saying 'with a great DAC connected to it.'

I haven't heard the Oppo nor the Touch. If they sound identical from their analog outs, they should be rated about the same. But, they're different devices that perform different functions, and hence have different competition.

But what do I know? I'm no reviewer, nor do I care to be.

Just because they rated it lower than you would have, or their justification doesn't make sense to you doesn't make it sound any worse now than it did before you read the rating, does it? Its not worth getting worked up over IMO.
I had been reading Kal's posts over on the slim devices forum. His common sense approach and frankness made me think about getting a subscription to Stereophile. While the Class D rating doesn't bother me or affect my enjoyment of the Touch as a digital transport, John Atkinson's responses and "logic" cost them a new subscription from me.
Ozzy, you missed the point. You are beyond worrying about what Stereophools think. You have invested a lot of time and money into building a system that pleases you. To hell with Stereophile. It is one opinion.

It is human nature to attack a critic when they don't agree with you but if you are confident that your assessment is valid then any angst is too much. Our time here is too short to waste any of it agonizing over an opinion we disagree with. Enjoy what you have.

I have been attacked. criticized, and called a tin ear over my choice to digitize my vinyl but I'm confident it sounds wonderful. It helps that I've had others with a depth of experience confirm my findings but I sit and tap my toe while others throw darts at something they've never heard.

Bottom line.... trust your own ears.. I believe was the Duke who said something like.. if sounds good it is good.

.
Kbarkamian ,Riffle, Herman, and all who have added there opinions, Thank you all for your comments.

I will continue to enjoy my Sqeezebox Touch and for now I will keep my subscriptions to the Audio Mags.
But, I will never again put much creedence in the so called subjective rating system.
I respect Kal for calling it like he sees it. Unfortunately, he was called out by his boss and deleted his post. Something about "Personally, I don't feel it appropriate for a Stereophile writer to post private communications on the Web". Thank you Your Highness, Mr. Atkinson. As it is, the most important point to me, aside from not giving a damn about their ratings, is that a few of their writers have honesty and class. But, not as many as some online mags I like such as 6moons, TNT, and Affordable Audio. Just remember, enjoy the music (oh, that's another one)! ;)
I think you're still missing the point. Think of it this way. ALL OF THE RECOMMENDED COMPONENTS ARE RATED AN A. Then break it down within that A to a ranking of A-E with D and E specific to value for money rankings.
I liked J.A.'s reply, and I agree with him.

When used through its internal DAC and analog outs, the Touch is a darned good $300 device, but it's nowhere near the world's best components when used that way.

When used as a digital transport feeding a good DAC, however, it functions markedly better (which is how I am using it right now), and it is practically a steal. But then it's abilities as a musical device depends on the DAC you're using, and there's no way they can deal with that as part of their recommendations.

Maybe in the next round they'll add a note that says "even better when used a digital transport."

Of course, Kal covers that well in his review.
Atkinson (Stereophile Editor) addressed this directly on www.audioasylum.com .

He said that the D rating applies to using the analog outputs and doing no upgrading at all, such as different power supply.

Personally, I think D is too low for the analog outputs. I'd go C at least and probably B. I find the tone is overall quite good, and what is missing is the last iota of detail that provides imaging and the kind of great nuance you would expect out of an A rated system.

Also I think he was a bit harsh in failing to note how he would evaluate it as an interface to a high end DAC. From what I read about experiences using it to interface a DAC, it should rate B at least and perhaps even A for that application.
Atkinson claims that he did not pressure Kal to remove any postings.

Some years ago I had conversations with a well known audio reviewer about life as a reviewer, and she (in this case) told me that she quickly found she had to NEVER give any opinions outside the magazine. Apparently the power of reviews to affect sales is so enormous that careless hints in casual conversation can cause, ah, issues.

That was largely before such an enormous body of audio gear criticism appeared on the web in 'zines and bulletin boards and Amazon etc, so, the situation may have softened somewhat; I don't know.

Art
First, Atkinson did not pressure or even ask me to remove any postings. I did so because they were made in haste and in error.

Second, if you Google a bit, you will find I have made many posts (> 20,000 on AVS alone) and a substantial number have opinion.

Kal
The discussions about it on the logitech forums are pretty interesting.
"Class D" doesn't mean a component is bad, it means it should provide satisfying sound but isn't near the state-of-the-art. The Stereophile review said that the sound from the analog outputs was a couple of notches below state-of-the-art (the TAS review was kinder), so I assume that this is what determined its rating, along perhaps with the 96 kHz sampling rate limitation.

Too bad, not the rating I mean, but the DAC, since I've been considering getting one as a temporary sound source . . .
I answered before I read the thread, LOL

Seriously dumb