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Squeezebox Duet vs Apple Remote App (Pics within)

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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:1






I'll play around and let you know how I get on.


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Hi darren - Thanks very much for posting the photos and we are all interested in your opinion once you have spent some time comparing both Duet and iPod Touch.


Considering where we have been in the past in terms of antiquated remotes and not so quick access to our music collections, these two are both fabulous pieces or equipment. But I do have my preference. I won't get into my opinion because I don't want to steer this thread down a different street than the one you have in mind.


I'll certainly be following this one. Thanks Darren!


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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Hi. At the moment I am preferring the Touch. The only downfall I think I've found is a lack of internet radio? But I generally use Podcasts anyway; a sort of radio-on-demand, if you will.


I must note that I'm only using these things as a single room solution; not multi-room, where SB and Sonos may pull ahead.


Go on, tell me your findings!


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7th Aug - Update to my little blog...




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


As far as I can see, I cannot select my interent radio channels through my iPod Touch Remote App, making the Duet the winning by default!


However, even if IPod Touch could access the internet radio of iTunes, it probably couldn't rival the vast choice that the Duet offers.





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.




I will provide more updates in due course...


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Update 7th Aug


Internet Radio via Remote Apple


I have discovered that internet radio does work via Remote App.


All you have to do is drag your favourite stations into a playlist and select them through there.


I have just made one and it is running smoothly.


Radio choice is reasonable but not as much as on the SB. I don't need it much though, so no worries here.


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Update 8th August...


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.


I'm still finding the Touch interface amazing and reliable. And am so pleased that the entire system is basically an optical lead into the AVI ADM9.1.


More updates to follow...


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Update 8th Aug...


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:






More to follow...


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Update 9th Aug...




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...


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Logging into your server with iPod Touch


If one is streaming music it is likely they'll want a computer as a server stored remotely, outside of the listening room, most probably.


This is fine but if the headless server ever needs any maintenance you'll have to log-in remotely with a laptop, or plug in a screen and keyboard.




I found a VNC app for the Touch and decided I'd give it a go to log into my server remotely...


Simply install VNC server on the main computer, set up passwords, open some ports, and now I can log into it via my Touch!


It is a bit fiddly to control everything, but it could be useful for basic applications. i.e. shutting down the computer? Closing iTunes and reopening it? Dragging some folders around?








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Apparently there's a codec to play FLAC in iTunes if you have a Mac but as far as I know it can't be done in Windows.


If you want to use iTunes then you're probably best off converting to Apple Lossless.


Alternately you could use a Touch to command your FLACs via SqueezeCentre if you have a SqueezeBox.


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I have a duet. I wouldn't consider a device that didn't support FLAC. Don't get me wrong it all looks really sexy, but I am really not an apple fan. I hate the one-way only nature of their portable players, and I dislike the lack of FLAC support. I certainly wouldn't consider transcoding to a proprietary format.



“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul” - Plato[br]

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What is so special about FLAC that matters so much? Surely Lossless is exactly the same but with more information and DRM and surely there are plenty of programs around that can switch between Lossless formats without affecting the music files, they just change the tags. For me, the Apple system is so far ahead it isn't a consideration. Am I missing something?




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Not quite sure in what way the Apple system is "So far ahead".


FLAC is a free, open source codec. It seems to have become the lossless standard, certainly among non-apple users. Apple lossless is tied to Apple.

I wouldn't use Apple lossless any more than I would use WMA lossless.

I find iTunes to be among my least favourite of audio players/managers too, but then thats just my subjective opinion.

As I said, I dislike the one way nature of getting music onto an iPod too. For years I have drag and dropped my own organised folders onto my Creative portable, and then I foolishly bought SWMBO an iPod (30GB v5)... What a nightmare. Forcing me to load iTunes, and what a dreadful system. Okay it was improved with a Rockbox firmware upgrade, but then she didn't like it and now I'm back to messing around in Media Monkey (which I now use in preference to iTunes).


I'm rambling though...





“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul” - Plato[br]

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It's Apple's software and hardware, so from a business reason I can see why they don't bother allowing FLAC, only their own file format.


However, it's a complete non-issue because you can convert your FLACs to Apple Lossless. If you don't get on with Apple then you can convert back to FLAC.


If you're scared of evil Apple just duplicate your FLACs as Apple Lossless.


If the Touch Remote App appeals then maybe buy one used and give it a go. If you prefer the interface, like I did, then you can convert your entire collection. If you prefer the Duet then you can keep the FLACs.


It all sounds the same anyway.


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Yes, I agree, the sound is pretty much the same so long as you use a decent DAC.


...as for converting to Apple lossless, it will never happen. I have 3 copies of all my albums now, I don't intend to copy to ALAC too.


I think it's more the principal. I will support players that support my choice in format, not the other way around. I would like to see FLAC support grow, and become the standard a la MP3. It serves us all best to have a standard format. One free from the bollox that is DRM too...


“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul” - Plato[br]

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Personally I don't use any compression and don't bother to think about it much. The only benefit to compression is saving disk space and I have 5 TB to use up. Kind of a non-issue.


That said, there is certainly something to be said for the openness FLAC. I look at it like other software applications that are open source. This site runs on Drupal, arguably the best open source web platform available. There was no way I was going to lock myself into a closed system and depend on one single company for the needs of this site. Drupal has a huge community of people working to expand and improve the applications features. Sure this may not equate one-to-one but there are some similarities.


On my Mac I use AIFF, but have ventured into Apple Lossless territory when I need to squeeze a little extra on to my iPod. I really like the way the iPod sync works, but I would also really like the option to just move music over to the Pod via file copy. I do agree with Ashley that Apple is way far ahead on many fronts. I tried to not like iTunes, but once you let is work how it's designed to work everything goes extremely smooth. There are still issues, but I can deal with them.


Interesting discussion. Nice job keeping it collegial.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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