There are plenty of ways of auditioning music stored on a PC. A plethora of networked media players balance quality with cost is, but most are, alas, not optimised for music and require your TV to be switched on, as tracks are selected by an onscreen menu. Welcome, then, to the latest version of the famous Squeezebox networked music player, which now has an added touchscreen.
The device connects to your audio system digitally or via analogue and both optical and coaxial are catered for. You also get a headphone socket, while Network connections can be via wi-fi or Ethernet. There’s a USB port and SD card slot, too.
The 4.3in touchscreen builds on the Squeezebox’s ease of use. The screen is bright and informative (ID3 ‘tags’ and album artwork supported, for example) without being cluttered.
Sound quality is exemplary with decent quality files. File support is excellent and includes lossless FLAC and WAV, in addition to MP3 and WMA. 96kHz/24-bit support.
The Squeezebox isn’t a uPnP/DLNA device and requires its own software, known as ‘Squeezebox Server’. This is available in Mac, Linux and Windows versions, and some NAS boxes support it, too. The Windows version I tried could be improved; for a start, only one folder containing music files (which could be an iTunes library) can be specified.
Getting the software to recognise the device (via wi-fi) was a chore. Not all the FAT32-formatted USB devices I tried proved to be compatible, and there’s no support for DRM content either.
A speaker is built in, but it’s powered from the mains.
Price: £250 Approx
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