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Logitech Squeezebox Touch with M2tech hiface Two

Having successfully ‘hacked’ my Squeezebox Touch to add the linux drivers necessary to enable the hiface One it seemed only logical to try using the new M2tech hiface Two.  The hiface Two is USB 2.0 audio compatible – it uses a XMOS solution – so does not require drivers for OS X or Linux.

Comparing the original hiface to the new version Two was just a matter of plugging in the hiface and selecting it in the Advanced/Digital Output menu options (assuming Triode’s excellent Enhanced Digital Output App is enabled). Each change of convertor requires a SBT reboot, but it happens automatically and takes very little time.

The sound quality differences between the hiface and its newer sibling were not as great as the difference between using the SBT from its S/PDIF output and using a hiface – that’s a complete no brainer imho – but they were obvious and the hiface two was the clear winner.

The original hiface in comparison was a little more raw, a little rougher round the edges, a little less ‘relax back into the chair’. To put it into some sort of perspective, if I owned a original hiface I wouldn’t upgrade unless I also owned a SBT and couldn’t face the ‘hacking’

If I owned a SBT was using the S/PDIF output and didn’t try the hiface Two I’d potentially be missing a huge chunk of performance.

hiface Two, USB to S/PDIF device

Naim Launches NDS: a New High-End Network Player

Sound and Vision Show Bristol, 24thFebruary 2012.  Naim today demonstrated its new high-end NDS network player for the first time publically and confirmed an estimated delivery date of May 2012.

The brief to Naim’s R&D was simple: design a network player that is demonstrably superior to the award-winning NDX.
As a result, the NDS is a network player capable of the finest musical performance yet.  A player that delivers more music with CD rips that most players do with hi-res sources.
nds_front-10pc

 

Squeezebox Touch – a week later

What an interesting beast this is. The lispy addition to voices that I was complaining about in my original post has gone. The sound quality is really rather good using the digital out. I prefer the optical output to the coax into the Naim DAC. The optical has a more refined presentation and just sounds right, the coax is a little courser.

If sound quality was the only criteria the SB Touch would be stunning value for money but unfortunately usability and fit for purpose must be included in the equation.

The display is rather pleasant if a little slow; but only works well within a narrow vertical viewing angle. That angle is often wrong unless one is standing, and who stands to listen to music? It needs an adjustable rear stand.

So far 24/96 is far too unreliable. It might play it, might stutter. Not good enough. The Squeezebox forums are full of the problem and possible solutions but none has worked 100% for me.

Connecting up an external 500GB portable drive with a power supply has so far been an unrewarding experience. I’m struggling to get it to scan the drive fully and so far I’ve only managed to play about a tenth of one track.

So if the decision was based on the sound quality of CD rips from the digital output it would be a clear winner. Overall it needs more work or I need to understand more about how to get the best from it.

More in another week or so.

Initial thoughts on the Squeezebox Touch

After one of the worst examples of corporate communications ineptitude I’ve ever come across, my Logitech Squeezebox Touch arrived yesterday.

I ordered my Touch on the 26th October 2009 to take advantage of the 20% off for early orders offer. Delivery was expected imminently. Only one email since then – on 4th March – to warn of a delay until April-May. Another 20% offer “as a small gift” but no apology. A simple ‘sorry for the delay we are working on getting it right before launch’ would have gone a mighty long way.

I know there is a Squeezebox forum and maybe Logitech thought that was a reason not to keep me up to date – but it’s not. A few emails would have made me feel much happier with Logitech. If I hadn’t known friends with beta units, who were pleased with the performance, I would have cancelled my order months ago.

Anyway it’s arrived and very nice it is too. It’s been running overnight using the standard supplied PS and I’ve recently changed over to the Maplin linear PS as much for my piece of mind as any sonic reason. There is a small difference but not enough to rush to the shops.

What does it sound like? OK, I suppose, is all I can report so far. I’ve only tried the optical and coaxial digital outputs running into a Naim DAC with 555 PS. It has an edge to the sound that sneaks its way on to every song. It’s a slight hard lispiness to vocals that accentuates the lips and teeth sounds. Coax digital sounds substantially different from Optical – surprisingly different in fact.

It’s way too early to form any sensible conclusions. It’s certainly excellent value; just don’t know how excellent yet. More in a week or so when it has run in.

Pure Music – an interesting start

I downloaded the demo package of Pure Music (the playback only version of Pure Vinyl) today. A quick listen using my TC Konnect 8 as a firewire to S/PDIF interface to my Naim DAC with 555 PS Power Supply was enough to make me take up the $79 limited time offer.
I need to have time to seriously listen to this combination and to also try the hiFace M2Tech I have had since before Christmas.
To summarise the listening results, the performance with Pure Music was significantly better than with iTunes alone. Cleaner and more interesting. Memory playback was even better. The sound didn’t have the shiny, chromium plated character so common in computer audio. It had solidity and grip.
My only concern in the short-term at least is in the rhythm. It might not have the true ‘drag me in’ character I find essential for long-term enjoyment.
Much more as soon as I have time.

In the meantime…

Naim updates award-winning CDX2 CD Player

Naim has updated its CDX2 CD player to coincide with the forthcoming launch of the Naim DAC.

More information and images

This is the first major revision for this product in over 7 years. This takes the CDX2 into new markets delivering greater performance and far increased flexibility. The price remains the same.

The new version CDX2 adds a switchable S/PDIF output on a 75 Ohm BNC connector for the correct impedance match.