BBC Radio 4 FM on a portable radio around here is spoilt by breakthrough from a pirate which I think is called Riddim Radio. RR appears to be spilling out everywhere and it sounds somewhat overmodulated. I complained by the BBC website expecting an email or a call in response but basically nothing than the standard reply stating I might not get a reply.
I know this is a bit conspiracy theory like, but pirate radio must be pushing more people to DAB. So it makes sense that the BBC or whoever is now responsible – is it OFCOM? – don’t bother to shut down the pirates.
Squeezebox Radio - internet radio definitely not DAB
Didn’t work with me; I bought a internet radio, a lovely Squeezebox Radio, which was installed in minutes. It gives me access to Radio 4 via iPlayer at a decent bit rate – 128kbps AAC - access to Radio Paradise and other great internet radio stations and all my stored music.
It sounds great, a nice tone as my parent used to say and is easy to use. The one downside is the crazily high priced battery pack with remote control pack available as an accessory. However I’ve found a website with advice on how to make one so I’ll do that if I ever get some spare time.
I’ve wasted hours trying to get SqueezeServer running well under Ubuntu 10.04 and then Fedora 13. I thought I was doing well as I followed the instructions and installed the Spotify plugin and with the addition of Wine it worked brilliantly under Ubuntu.
But, and there is a big but, I could not get either operating system to let me access my NAS drive – or indeed any network drive. I’ve Googled and tried all sorts of Samba type things but I remain stored music less. So internet radio works, Spotify works but I can’t access any stored music.
So the time has come to give up on such stupid ideas of running a third operating system (or fourth if you include Server 2003) here and the ‘Squeezebox’ PC has reverted to Win7.
At least I tried…
One more thing, I didn’t actually do any serious listening while running under Ubunto but I’m convinced BBC radio – the iPlayer streams – didn’t sound as good. Weird.
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.
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.
Very interested to read on Amarra’s website and I paraphrase ‘it’s easy to make music sound good on a computer but hard to make it sound fabulous’. I think they have been listening to my conversations.
Next week I’m in Munich for the High End show and by coincidence will be sharing a booth (or to be more exact one of my clients Thorens is sharing a booth) themed Sources of the Future – as it’s vinyl and streaming – with Higoto who are Germany’s streaming experts.
The demos will be of Thoren’s new Tri-Balance turntable, the Logitech Transporter and a Macbook running iTunes with the Amarra software into a Weiss DAC.
Should be very interesting. It’ll bring out all the digits is digits posts again, especially as Amarra is around $1500. That means the price of Mac Book Pro , Amarra and DAC will be around £5-6k. Cheaper than my CD player. But will it deliver as much?
Will it be fabulous hi-fi or fabulous music?
I’ve had a the new Cambridge Audio Dacmagic for maybe a couple of months now and its not disappointed. For two hundred pounds it’s fabulous value.
I started off running it in and using it connected via a Chord Prodac Prodigital coax cable from my Squeezebox 3. It’s a great match for the SB3, delivering increased clarity and drive over the SB3′s line out. Sort of seems in the right price range for an upgrade to the SB3 as well.
Next was connecting it via USB to my HP Note 2133 to play internet radio. Using Radio Paradise’s 128AAC stream as the primary source – a great souce of quality music with great sound – it sounded flat and boring. What was surprising was just how easily it connected and Win XP recognised it straight away. Really plug and play.
Adding a M-Audio Transit sound card connected via USB and then feeding the output from the Transit via a Chord Optichord optical cable into the Cambridge changed the sound quality completely: dynamics returned, life and energy returned and music was fun to listen to again. Internet radio can sound surprisingly good.
I do have an even better internet radio player but I’m not free to talk about that yet.
Two or more things to try with the Dacmagic yet: a larger power transformer and changing to ASIO drivers as these are supported by the Transit. Might even try the three filters sometime. I reckon that there is loads more to get out of it if only I had enough time to experiment.
More on these another day.