Audiophile-quality music streamer
- Great interface, excellent sound quality, seamless network support
- Expensive for casual listeners, no DRM support
Whatever music you want to listen to, the Transporter is able to take it from your computer to your stereo without any perceivable quality loss. The interface is seamless and direct connection to the online SqueezeNetwork means you don’t even need a computer. If you can handle the high price, you’ll get the quality you paid for.
Price$ 3,299.95 (AUD)
The Transporter has all the specifications you'd expect from a top-level media streaming system, backed up with an interface that is easy enough for anyone to use. If you can stand the painfully high price, this is one of the best dedicated audio streamers currently available.
Logitech's Transporter is a network music player aimed squarely at the audiophile music market. It's built to standard A/V rack specifications and has plenty of bells and whistles that differentiate it from the competition. Unlike the mass-market Squeezebox Duet, the Transporter features high-end components, a world clock for perfect time synchronising and an RS-232 port for integration into a home theatre setup.
You can tell that the Transporter is aimed at the enthusiast from the number and standard of audio ports included. Regular RCA jacks cover the basics, while balanced XLR outputs as well as a host of digital transmitters — TosLink, coaxial, optical and AES/EBU jacks — allow even the most professional system to be connected.
Out of the box, the Transporter is incredibly easy to get up and running. We hooked it up using the analog RCA outputs to an Onkyo Liverpool Series MS5LX, so cabling was trouble-free. Just like the Squeezebox Duet, you're simply asked for wireless credentials and then the Transporter is instantly able to access the online SqueezeNetwork.
The online integration of the unit is fantastic. A host of radio stations are available for free listening, as well as some other streaming services that the Transporter can also access. Radio streaming was completely jitter-free and generally of good quality. The unit has the ability to connect to the subscription-based Pandora and Rhapsody music networks as well, for music downloading and playback.
Where the Transporter comes into its element, however, is streaming audio over a home network. You'll need a network-connected PC or laptop with your music collection on it for this. Downloading and installing the SqueezeCenter software is quick and painless; a browser-based interface allows you to organise tracks and playlists, as well as remotely control the Transporter.
The Transporter supports all common music file types, including lossless formats like FLAC. However, the unit is unable to play DRM-enabled formats, so protected files purchased from Apple's iTunes Store or Telstra's BigPond Music Web site are not supported.
Sound quality is a difficult thing to quantify with a media streamer, because there are no amplification stages — the audio is simply decoded and transferred to an external unit. What we could tell, however, is that the digital audio converter — the heart of the Transporter that processes all of the digital signals into analogue audio — is of exemplary quality. Whatever music we played, there was no degradation at all from the Transporter's internal decoding. Both compressed MP3 and lossless FLAC files sounded as good as when they were directly played back (bypassing the Transporter altogether) on the Onkyo sound system.
The interface of the Transporter is stunning. The dual fluorescent displays have an incredibly diverse range of options. Apart from the standard song title, volume indicators and folder navigation, the displays can be set up to scroll RSS feeds, weather data, news information and a host of other data.
The remote is a glossy black, backlit affair and it isn't too different from a standard DVD player remote. The controls are intuitive, with the lack of an obvious Back button being the only issue. It quickly becomes second nature to use and can be easily controlled from up close, across the room thanks to the large well-lit displays, or even via the computer running the SqueezeCenter software.
Apart from the lack of DRM support, and the high price tag, Logitech has made a fantastic product in the Transporter. If you have a high quality stereo and want access to your digital music library, it's hard to go past this system.
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