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darrenwm
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Joined: Aug 9 2008 - 12:38pm
Review: Squeezebox Duet vs. Apple Touch Remote App

Introduction

I have been using a Duet for a while and have been happy, but the Remote App for the iPod Touch looked good so I thought I'd give it a go.

Both solutions offer a remote control that displays all of your music.

The Touch offers touch screen and a larger screen. It is also a web browser and much more. Oh, and a portable music player!

And they both receive this music over a network and can be plugged into your DAC or ADM9s.

Both solutions require software to be run on a computer - either SqueezeCentre or iTunes:

Podcasts

I have started using Podcasts recently. It suits me well as it is effectively radio-on-demand. I don't listen to that much; it's mainly BBC stuff, like Business Daily, Composer of the Week, Wake Up To Money, and occasionally The Archers.

SqueezeCentre and iTunes handle Podcasts in quite different ways...

Within SqueezeCentre you have to enter the URL of the Podcast into the setup menus when you're on the computer. Once entered, these will appear on your Duet Controller when you navigate to Extras>Podcasts. When you play a Podcast it is streaming in live over the internet.

As far as I can see in iTunes, to add a Podcast you need to go into the iTunes store and pick the ones you want. They are then downloaded to the harddrive. There is an option for iTunes to download new episodes automatically as soon as they become available too, so that they should always be there waiting for you when you're ready to listen.

I think the Duet is the winner for Podcasts. It can stream instantly from any URL you care to enter and you don't download anything you don't need.

There are some advantages to the iTunes approach though, it automatically downloads new episodes in advance so that you shouldn't have to wait in reality. Also, you shouldn't suffer dropouts if there is demand on your internet connection.

Internet Radio

At first it seems like you cannot access Internet Radio from the Touch Remote App. However you can, and the way to do it is to drag the stations into a playlist.

However, the range of radio stations on the Duet is more vast.

Charging

The Duet comes with it's own nice little charging cradle in the box for free. The Touch is annoying in that I have to plug it into the USB cable of a computer by default.

To remedy this I have ordered a dock and a mains adaptor at small cost, so that it can reside on the coffee table in the same fashion as the Duet.

Portable playback

The Duet Controller has a headphone socket and an SD card slot but I currently know of no way to put music on it to play via headphones.

The iPod, naturally, is a fantastic portable player, except for the fact that it is huge. I personally still use an old Nano when I am out cycling.

The Touch sounds very good though, even with stock headphones, and cover flow animation is truely impressive as well as useful.

Network receivers

I am outputting both the SB and the Apple via optical into a DAC. This is via the Duet Receiver and Apple Airport Express, respectively. Both receivers can be connected to the network via Fast Ethernet or WiFi - but the Airport allows Wireless N, whereas the Duet Receiver is Wireless G. Both should be sufficient for lossless in reality.

Audio connectivity is better on the Duet. You get proper analogue RCA outputs that sound quite fine, as well as toslink and digital coaxial. The Airport Express has a headphone socket that sounds ho-hum, and it doubles up as a mini-toslink too.

Via digital into the DAC I don't think there are sound quality differences.

Other observations

At present I am still preferring the touch screen interface via Remote App when sat on the sofa navigating my main music library. The Touch feels nice and has a good interface and lovely screen.

Tagging of artists

I have noticed that album artists are treated differently on my Duet Controller and on my Touch.

Both are looking at the same iTunes library. I have SqueezeCentre set up in the recommended iTunes style where you point it at the iTunes.xml file and not at a folder.

Anyway, I have quite a lot of compilation albums and am reliant on the Album Artist tagging field.
For example, my Best of James Bond 007 soundtrack CD, I tag the Album Artist as "James Bond", and leave the Artists field as Ah-Ha, Duran Duran, Shirley Bassey, etc.

When browsing artists on my Duet it actually lists album artists, so I just have one artist entry - James Bond - rather than loads of individual artists.

When browsing on the Touch it lists artists, so I have a load of new artist entries.

I prefer the Duet's approach and need to find a way replicate this on the Touch, rather having to simplify all of my tags and lose detail, and waste time.

Charging dock arrived

I missed that my Duet had its own cradle and the Touch needed a USB lead for charging, so I ordered my mains charger and dock so that they can sit side by side in the living room:

Wallpaper

I can't seem to be able to add my own wallpaper to the Duet.

It is easy with the Touch though, and I have added the logo of the people who make my loudspeakers:

I also introduced the pair to a Sonos and got a pic side by side.

It is interesting that the Touch is the smallest controller but has the largest screen!

More to follow...

bobinnv
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Joined: Apr 19 2008 - 9:44am
Re: Review: Squeezebox Duet vs. Apple Touch Remote App

Great comparison! I have been playing with 'Remote' on my 1st generation, wifi only iPhone, and find it works very well. My only complaint is that it tends to lose the wifi signal - though the music keeps playing regardless.

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