Squeezebox Touch by Logitech

Squeeze 1The Logitech SqueezeBox Touch is handy little media streamer that allows you to pull music files from any computer and push them out to your home stereo or headphone amplifier.  The real convenience with this streamer is not only the wide variety of sources you can pull from (computer, SD card, external hard drive, music streaming services) but it also allows you to control the interface from a multitude of places (computer, phone, IR remote, iPad, the touchscreen on the device itself)  The Squeezebox is competing in an increasingly crowded space.  Many home theater amplifiers offer similar services and with Apple’s Airplay becoming more and more prevalent, an easy streaming fix is not hard to find.  It is worth mentioning that even though your home receivers may come and go, the SBT can be applied to any home system and does not require you to have the TV on to operate, which can be a big plus for those who like to entertain guests without the added distraction.

The Interface

The Squeezebox Touch comes with a IR remote with standard controls.  It is entirely possible to set up your playlists and just skip, back and repeat your way to your favorite tunes via this interface.  Songs and artwork are predominantly displayed on the device for your reference.  I found the free branded iPad and mobile phone apps to be a little buggy.  I was subject to a scrolling malfunction in both my iPad and Android phone that would not allow me to properly see song titles.  I would highly suggest giving some of the 3rd party apps like iPeng or SqueezePad a whirl.  The apps will allow you to access a multitude of services.

One feature I found to be quite interesting is the ability to produce a single playlist from any source.  You can pull one song from your computer, one from Spotify and a song from MOG and have them all play seamlessly together, very handy.  It is very freeing to have virtually any song you desire resting right at your fingertips from the comfort of your favorite easy chair.

The Connections

The Squeezebox allows for high resolution playback, however, output is limited to 24/96.  The myriad of connections available in the back of the unit include the standard S/PDIF coaxial and optical.  The USB connection is intended for access to an external hard drive but some unauthorized apps are starting to appear that allow this port to connect to an external DAC and push music resolution beyond the 24/96 threshold.

The Sound

The internal DAC on the Squeezebox is not the worst I have heard.  But when I connected it to the CEntrance DACMini, I noticed an immediate change in resolution.  As I A/B’d the analog out to the DACMini via the coaxial output, music seemed much sharper and three-dimensional, adding a sense of additional depth and realism.

I have not noticed a discernible difference between the quality of music that is streamed to music played directly from the SD card, a positive nod to the Logitech architecture holding the bits together.  The hardware unit itself feels solid to the touch and has some weight to it.  The touchscreen also hosts full functionality if you choose to go that route.  The on-screen pop up keyboard is much easier to use than I expected.  While high resolution playback is available for your audiophile needs, I would like to mention that the convenience of the streaming services should not be overlooked.  From my experience, the quality of MOG streaming is actually quite good from this device.  Much better than the native app for the iPad and nearly just as good as the native PC player (MOG also has a web player).  Pandora quality was listenable but not nearly as refined as MOG, and I didn’t notice any bump in quality though the unit with a Pandora One premium subscription either.  Even Rhapsody/Napster seemed a little veiled when compared to MOG.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a music aggregator that is convenient and can utilize a multitude of services the Squeezebox is a great place to start.  Given it’s $300-ish pricepoint, there are better more expensive options that could deliver better results, but for what it is, the Squeezebox delivers on value and versatility.  I would recommend connecting to a nice external DAC for best results.

 

On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LARRDA