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  1. #1
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    First impressions of Squeezebox Duet

    So I picked up a Squeezebox Duet today!

    I've owned a Squeezebox 3 for the past two years, really loved the player, sounded fantastic for the money, great interface, great remote. But unfortunately after a few system upgrades the SB3 no longer fit in my rack, so I had her sitting on the floor. Decided to sell it to a friend of mine, and upgrade to a Squeezebox Duet when funds allowed.

    That was five months ago, so I've been doing all of my listening ever since on CD and vinyl. My only recent upgrade was last month when I purchased a Naim Hi-Line interconnect for my CD5x

    So tonight, I unpackaged my new Duet, here are my first impressions

    - Nicely packaged, very easy to set up without a manual. Took two attempts to connect to my wireless network, but has operated flawlessly from this point on

    - The remote is very solid, very heavy. I prefer the old Squeezebox 3 remote, will take some getting used to this new interface. The scrollwheel is not as smooth as an iPod, but still very functional

    - The light on the front of the unit is very bright! I may cover it with some black tape. Also the docking station has no light (like I'm used to on my Harmony 880 remote), would be nice to see that it is charging

    - I've become very accustomed to my CD5x and Hi-Line, so on first playback on the Duet I wasn't too thrilled with the sound. But this is without burn-in, and using the cheap RCA connectors that came with the product (I was previously using QED Qunex 1 interconnects, I've been waiting for about a year on an order for Chord Crimson RCA to DIN5 interconnects, I'm certain this will improve the system)

    - Sound quality is getting noticably better after a few hours of play, I'm going to leave the player running for about 48-96 hours to give her a chance to warm up before I give an opinion on the sound quality.

    I guess you could say I'm a bit nostalgic for my SB3! But I'm certain that once she's warmed up and has the right interconnect I will be grinning ear-to-ear. Also my Naim Hi-Line has really raised my CD playback to a new level, so I'm a bit over-judgemental tonight. But I use my Squeezebox mostly for background music when I have guests over, or for streaming internet radio, so it's not like I do any critical listening

    cheers,
    elapsed
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  2. #2
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Interesting

    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    So I picked up a Squeezebox Duet today!

    I've owned a Squeezebox 3 for the past two years, really loved the player, sounded fantastic for the money, great interface, great remote. But unfortunately after a few system upgrades the SB3 no longer fit in my rack, so I had her sitting on the floor. Decided to sell it to a friend of mine, and upgrade to a Squeezebox Duet when funds allowed.
    ...

    - I've become very accustomed to my CD5x and Hi-Line, so on first playback on the Duet I wasn't too thrilled with the sound. But this is without burn-in, and using the cheap RCA connectors that came with the product (I was previously using QED Qunex 1 interconnects, I've been waiting for about a year on an order for Chord Crimson RCA to DIN5 interconnects, I'm certain this will improve the system)

    - Sound quality is getting noticably better after a few hours of play, I'm going to leave the player running for about 48-96 hours to give her a chance to warm up before I give an opinion on the sound quality.

    I guess you could say I'm a bit nostalgic for my SB3! But I'm certain that once she's warmed up and has the right interconnect I will be grinning ear-to-ear. Also my Naim Hi-Line has really raised my CD playback to a new level, so I'm a bit over-judgemental tonight. But I use my Squeezebox mostly for background music when I have guests over, or for streaming internet radio, so it's not like I do any critical listening

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Thanks for your report, elapsed.

    Just to be clear, I assume the computer music files you are listening to are in a lossless format: FLAC or Apple Lossless? (Otherwise comparisons to CD are meaningless.)

    You might recall that I now listen music mostly from computer. I haven't used or even heard a Squeezebox, but I have toyed with the idea on account of one or two theoretical advangages that this technology has.

    The SB has the advantage that it controls the pace at which the music data is drawn from the back-end server hence, in principle, should have lower jitter than USB interfaces in particular. Secondly, it has its own, hardware-based player that doesn't rely on general purpose computer O/S architecture with known problems, (such as XP's 'kmixer' component).

    On the other hand Sqeeze Receiver's DAC, while quite decent by every report, can't really be compared to SOTA equipment. There's little doubt that connecting the Squeeze Receiver to, say, a Benchmark DAC1 or PS Audio Link III would produce a better result. (Logitech's Transporter comes a lot closer to SOTA, or so I've heard: Stereophile Class 'A' as I recall. But then it's 5x the price of the Duet ensemble.)

    The thing that has kept me a way from Squeezebox is that the limited Duet interface wouldn't work for me most of the time as a classical listener. I would need to resort to the SqueezeCentre's, the back-end music server's, GUI interface. However, as far as I can discover SqueezeCentre doesn't support sorting and selecting by composer very well, and this is indispensible to a classical listener. Right now I'm getting good results using Foobar2000 and 'kernel streaming' to feed my soundcard with S/PDIF output to my Assemblage DAC. The old DAC is likey the weak link in this chain; I would likely gain a lot by upgrading to one of the aforementioned Benchmark or PS Audio units.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    So I picked up a Squeezebox Duet today!

    ....

    - Sound quality is getting noticably better after a few hours of play, I'm going to leave the player running for about 48-96 hours to give her a chance to warm up before I give an opinion on the sound quality.

    ...

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Is there a link with sampling here?

    Nice acquisition btw! hope you enjoy it after 48-96 hours

  4. #4
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    I've been using a SB3 for my main listening for about 3 years now. In fact I sold my CD player. The unit is a heck of a buy for the money as-is, but the trick to making it your main source is using an external DAC. I use a Lavry DA-10 and simply have no urge to upgrade. I'd even tried Slimdevice's hi-end "Transporter" and ended up returning it.

    I also have a Duet remote and like it. The scroll wheel does have a bit of a learning curve but one quickly improves with use. I have over 40,000 songs on my Linux music server and can get to what I want fairly quickly - certainly MUCH faster than looking for music in a CD case with a collection that size.

    Finally, the default Squeezecenter sorting system isn't optimized for classical, but quite a few people have worked around that. You might consider visiting the forums at http://forums.slimdevices.com. There is a wealth of info there on almost ever subject imaginable concerning all things Squeezebox.

  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Might check again

    Quote Originally Posted by mlsstl
    ...
    Finally, the default Squeezecenter sorting system isn't optimized for classical, but quite a few people have worked around that. You might consider visiting the forums at http://forums.slimdevices.com. There is a wealth of info there on almost ever subject imaginable concerning all things Squeezebox.
    Thanks for mentioning this misstl,

    In fact I had a look there a couple of months ago, but I'll go back again.

    At the time the "solution" seemed to be to use to put the composer in the 'Artist' tag. But then what do you do for the actual artist? Artist, (a.k.a. performer, whatever), and composer are equally relevant, so trading off one for other just doesn't do the trick.

  6. #6
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlsstl
    I've been using a SB3 for my main listening for about 3 years now. In fact I sold my CD player. The unit is a heck of a buy for the money as-is, but the trick to making it your main source is using an external DAC.
    I couldn't agree more. My only listening source (unless I count the odd time I plug my headphones into my laptop) is my SB3 connected to a Benchmark DAC1... At this stage I wouldn't even consider buying another CD player...

  7. #7
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Just to be clear, I assume the computer music files you are listening to are in a lossless format: FLAC or Apple Lossless? (Otherwise comparisons to CD are meaningless.)
    Yes almost everything is ripped to FLAC (except for the occasional mp3 download that came free with a new LP), and I even have some 24/96 wav in my collection.

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    There's little doubt that connecting the Squeeze Receiver to, say, a Benchmark DAC1 or PS Audio Link III would produce a better result. (Logitech's Transporter comes a lot closer to SOTA, or so I've heard: Stereophile Class 'A' as I recall. But then it's 5x the price of the Duet ensemble.)
    Oh no question.. though I don't intend to purchase a DAC for my system (my CD player and power supply is already 10x the cost of the Squeezebox). So my evaluations are only via analogue. But I do respect anyone who uses a Squeezebox with an external DAC, it makes for an enviable source.

    The Squeezebox Duet is actually the last component I'd been waiting to add to my system, I would now consider my system to be completely balanced and complete (except for the Chord Cable order I've been waiting on!). The only thing I may ever upgrade is the speakers, but outside of this I'm really and truly done until a new technology comes along that I can't live without.

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2 speakers
    Naim CD5x cd player
    Naim NAC 122x pre-amp
    Naim NAP 150x poweramp
    Naim FlatCap-2x power supply
    Naim Stageline N phono stage
    Naim NACA5 speaker cabling
    Naim Hi-Line interconnect
    Chord Crimson interconnects
    Rega Planar 3 turntable
    Goldring 1042 cartridge
    Squeezebox 3
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  8. #8
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Is there a link with sampling here?

    Nice acquisition btw! hope you enjoy it after 48-96 hours
    I have her on repeat with Buddha Bar 7, very relaxing CD to wake up to (I mostly play just house music in the background with friends over in any case)

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2 speakers
    Naim CD5x cd player
    Naim NAC 122x pre-amp
    Naim NAP 150x poweramp
    Naim FlatCap-2x power supply
    Naim Stageline N phono stage
    Naim NACA5 speaker cabling
    Naim Hi-Line interconnect
    Chord Crimson interconnects
    Rega Planar 3 turntable
    Goldring 1042 cartridge
    Squeezebox 3
    Oppo DV-983H dvd player
    Harmony 890 remote
    Quadraspire Q4 shelving
    Wiremold L10320 power strip

    System Picture #1 | System Picture #2 | System Design

  9. #9
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    Check out the Erland plug-ins for Squeezecenter. They allow for greater flexibility in the tag scan & browse areas. That is one of the neat things about the SC server - it is open source and people have come up with some pretty amazing additions.

  10. #10
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    Very interesting post. It does leave me with some questions.

    Given that you use the SPDIF digital out.

    Is my assuption correct that this box is used to just pass information on and does no processing? IE that the equipment you put behind the box influences the quality and not the Network Attached Storage (NAS), or the Squeeze?

    Why would anyone want to connect an analogue out, if this box has a digital/optical?

    Would there be any difference in taking a Onkyo TX-SR876 versus these DAC things I keep hearing about when I connect something like this?

    I'm still looking for a setup that works fanTAStis for music and some basic 5.1 suround.

    Regards,
    Jay

  11. #11
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaysmay
    Is my assuption correct that this box is used to just pass information on and does no processing? IE that the equipment you put behind the box influences the quality and not the Network Attached Storage (NAS), or the Squeeze?
    Correct, if you use a digital out then the Squeezebox itself is just a transport mechanism, ultimately another DAC will influence the music quality and not the Squeezebox itself (providing you don't get any audio dropouts from streaming via wireless from your PC, which is usually unlikely)

    Quote Originally Posted by jaysmay
    Why would anyone want to connect an analogue out, if this box has a digital/optical?
    I use the analogue outputs on my Squeezebox because the DAC's are actually quite good (24-bit Burr-Brown PCM1748 in the Squeezebox 3 // 24-bit Wolfson WM8501 in the Squeezebox Duet). Also, my own system is 100% analogue to begin with, I don't have a receiver or outboard DAC to handle the processing for me.

    The only weakness for me with the Squeezebox is the noisy power supply, but the cost for upgrading the power supply isn't worth it to me as the Squeezebox is not my primary source. If I were replacing my CD Player, then I would certainly be purchasing an outboard DAC

    Quote Originally Posted by jaysmay
    Would there be any difference in taking a Onkyo TX-SR876 versus these DAC things I keep hearing about when I connect something like this?
    The Onkyo 876 uses a slightly better 24-bit Burr-Brown PCM1796 DAC, so I suspect there will be a very small improvement by using the Onkyo's DAC. However, an outboard DAC will offer far greater improvement over the Onkyo.

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2 speakers
    Naim CD5x cd player
    Naim NAC 122x pre-amp
    Naim NAP 150x poweramp
    Naim FlatCap-2x power supply
    Naim Stageline N phono stage
    Naim NACA5 speaker cabling
    Naim Hi-Line interconnect
    Chord Crimson interconnects
    Rega Planar 3 turntable
    Goldring 1042 cartridge
    Squeezebox 3
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed

    The Onkyo 876 uses a slightly better 24-bit Burr-Brown PCM1796 DAC, so I suspect there will be a very small improvement by using the Onkyo's DAC. However, an outboard DAC will offer far greater improvement over the Onkyo.
    In the grand scope of things... how much extra will a DAC give you? i mean I've always understood that #1 priority is proper positioning of speakers. #2 priority is speakers #3 priority is AMP and then comes the rest.

    So in terms of where to spend money... would you say my description is accurate?

    Jasper

  13. #13
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaysmay
    In the grand scope of things... how much extra will a DAC give you? i mean I've always understood that #1 priority is proper positioning of speakers. #2 priority is speakers #3 priority is AMP and then comes the rest.

    So in terms of where to spend money... would you say my description is accurate?
    I would argue that #1 priority is the room, then the speakers, followed by the source. In my own system, upgrading my source has provided more benefit than upgrading my pre-amp and poweramp time and time again, just so long as the system has synergy from the source all the way to the speakers.

    I'm even aware of a few people who take the source-first approach to extremes, with $10K turntables and CD players running through $500 speakers, though I wouldn't go quite this far. My recommendation would be to purchase the best source your budget will allow, keeping synergy in mind for all of your system components.

    Go ahead and audition an outboard DAC for yourself, only you can decide if it is worth the investment

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2 speakers
    Naim CD5x cd player
    Naim NAC 122x pre-amp
    Naim NAP 150x poweramp
    Naim FlatCap-2x power supply
    Naim Stageline N phono stage
    Naim NACA5 speaker cabling
    Naim Hi-Line interconnect
    Chord Crimson interconnects
    Rega Planar 3 turntable
    Goldring 1042 cartridge
    Squeezebox 3
    Oppo DV-983H dvd player
    Harmony 890 remote
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  14. #14
    Forum Regular Kevio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    I would argue that #1 priority is the room
    There's a fresh approach!
    Don't forget constraints of the WAF though...

  15. #15
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    elapsed is right. The greatest gear in the world and source material to beat the band will sound shockingly bad in a bad room. There should be more mention of the room and how important it is in this forum. Unfortunately acoustics and room treatments are not a glamorous thing to discuss.
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  16. #16
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    Burn in - no need.......

    I'm always confused by this. With no real working engine within the squeezebox, why would you need to let it burn-in? Speakers have working parts when new, I suppose they would need in some cases a little play time to work or exercise the cone.

    These are electronics, no need to turn on and expect a 'different enhanced sound' 96 hours later. In fact this goes for well-shielded cables. Adding different high $$ cables in blind tests do not improve your sound. I did think the poster that recommended room influence first was on to something. Taming room acoustics is difficult. I use a few treatments that does help.

    I use the squeezebox through the Cambridge Audio 840C DAC. I am impressed beyond belief! Sounds as close to the cds it plays! With free music services and my rhapsody there is no end to my library. All of this on my high end system via wireless. I did play it with the analog outs at first and thought it sounded great. Having the Cambridge just gave it the perfect sound.

    Ripping the cds (FLAC) is going to take quite some time, but when finished (I've got about 25% done) I'll have a pretty good music server.

  17. #17
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qruzer
    I'm always confused by this. With no real working engine within the squeezebox, why would you need to let it burn-in? Speakers have working parts when new, I suppose they would need in some cases a little play time to work or exercise the cone.
    Poor choice of wording on my part, I suppose I should have said "warm up". The Squeezebox Duet did indeed sound a lot better once the components had warmed up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Qruzer
    Adding different high $$ cables in blind tests do not improve your sound. I did think the poster that recommended room influence first was on to something. Taming room acoustics is difficult. I use a few treatments that does help.
    My ears told me differently when I switched the Naim DIN5 interconnect that came with my CD Player for a Naim Hi-Line. However in hindsight, the improvement was not huge in context of the price, though I certainly notice a loss when the cable is removed. But putting a thousand dollar interconnect on a source like the Squeezebox would make no sense whatsoever, the money would go exponentially further towards an outboard DAC, which I'm certain we both agree on.

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2 speakers
    Naim CD5x cd player
    Naim NAC 122x pre-amp
    Naim NAP 150x poweramp
    Naim FlatCap-2x power supply
    Naim Stageline N phono stage
    Naim NACA5 speaker cabling
    Naim Hi-Line interconnect
    Chord Crimson interconnects
    Rega Planar 3 turntable
    Goldring 1042 cartridge
    Squeezebox 3
    Oppo DV-983H dvd player
    Harmony 890 remote
    Quadraspire Q4 shelving
    Wiremold L10320 power strip

    System Picture #1 | System Picture #2 | System Design

  18. #18
    Ajani
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    Just to comment on a number of interesting points raised in this thread:

    1) The room really is the MOST important variable in your Hi-Fi... and you need to ensure that you your setup matches your room... There's little point spending $80K on a pair of Focal Grand Alpha Darth Vader Utopias and then setting them up in a 9ft x 7ft room, as they will sound like crap in that environment... Also, trying to use an inefficient pair of bookshelf speakers with a low powered tube amp in a massive room will have poor results... This is something we too often forgot when deciding on new gear... yet it makes the difference between money well spent or just wasted...

    2) Cables - Just as I would never suggest tossing a $1K pair of interconnects on a $500 CD Player, I also wouldn't suggest using $20 interconnects with a $20K stereo setup (if you have $20K to spend, then you can certainly afford some decent interconnects - especially since you are obviously chasing audio nirvana at that point). My rule with cables is that I won't buy cables that are of substantially better (unless they are cheap) or worse quality than the internal wiring of my audio gear... i.e. using Platinum plated, Pure Silver interconnects on an amp/CD combo that basically has bread bag ties for internal wiring makes no sense to me...

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