Published On: December 9, 2009

Logitech Transporter Music Server Reviewed

Published On: December 9, 2009

Logitech Transporter Music Server Reviewed

One of the best media server devices that we've seen for music to date is the Logitech Transporter. Reviewed by Brian Kahn, this network music device competes directly with the AppleTVs of the world for those not looking for the Cult of Mac.

Logitech_Transporter.gifNetwork music players have become truly ubiquitous. The market has a vast variety of network music players to choose from and many of the newer surround processors now have the ability to stream music across a computer network. The majority of these network music players focus on playing a variety of files, yet unfortunately many ignore the issue of sound quality. The Transporter's focus on exceptional audio performance makes it stand out in this crowded field, especially at its price.

Additional Resources
Learn more about Logitech and their media servers from HomeTheaterReview.com.

The Transporter's $1,999 price tag is significant, but it also hints at the Transporter's audiophile roots. Like other Squeezebox products in the Logitech line, the Transporter can connect to your home network via an Ethernet or WiFi connection and utilizes Logitech's SqueezeCenter software to organize and stream music files. Unlike the other products in the Logitech Squeezebox line, the Transporter's physical format is the same as a traditional audio component. The large front panel has flush buttons along the bottom, with user-configurable vacuum fluorescent displays along the top. A peek at the back panel hints at the unit's audiophile capabilities, with balanced and single-ended analog outputs, TOSLINK, Coax S/PDIF, BNC S/PDIF and AES/EBU Balanced digital inputs and outputs, and a word clock input. Custom installers will be happy to see IR input and outputs and an RS-232 jack. The Transporter's guts are also impressive, with audiophile-grade AKM AK4396 Multi-bit delta-sigma DACs, along with sophisticated power supplies to insure superior audio performance. The Transporter is compatible with a large number of music file types, but greatly benefits from high-quality file formats like AIFF, WAV, PCM and FLAC.

In addition to playing network music, the Transporter can also function as a high-quality DAC Internet music player and is compatible with Internet music services, such as MP3Tunes.com, Pandora, Rhapsody and LastFM. Like most other network music servers, the Transporter receives music files streamed from a local computer network or Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. Logitech makes several versions of its SqueezeCenter software that will run on most computers and many NAS devices. A relatively recent service that is compatible with the Transporter will let you play your music without a local computer or NAS. MP3Tunes.com will let you store your music files on their website, so that you can access them with the Transporter.

Using the Transporter is straightforward. The SqueezeCenter software has a large user base and is updated often. Those with basic computer familiarity should have no problems downloading and configuring the software. Once the software is set up, using the Transporter is intuitive. The menu structure is simple. At the top level, one selects from a local music library, digital input or music service. Searching the music library will be simple for anyone who has used an iPod. The SqueezeCenter software provides many organizational options to tailor the experience to the end user. The sound quality of the Transporter is extremely good with high-quality audio files or as a DAC. While using the Transporter as a DAC or with lossless audio files, its performance is amazingly comparable to CD players as high-end as those selling for $5,000. When I A/B tested the Transporter against my reference Classé CDP-202 ($6,500), I found the three-times-as-expensive Classé to do a better job at retrieving the inner details that add ambience and provide precision soundstage presence; if it didn't, the Classé wouldn't be in my reference system. At a certain point, the high end takes over in terms of overall performance.

Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2

Logitech_Transporter.gif

High Points

The Transporter combines the convenience of a music server with the sound quality of an audiophile CD player. 
• The Transporter can play a wide variety of music file types and is compatible with several online music services. 
• The Transporter has the ability to play your music without a computer by using a NAS device or an online music storage service.
• The Transporter's displays can be user-configured to provide a variety of information or display RSS feeds.

Low Points
• The Transporter is not fully self-contained and requires an external device to stream locally stored music files.
• Setting up the SqueezeCenter software can be daunting to the somewhat technologically challenged. If you set up your own wireless Internet, then don't worry a bit. If not, your dealer can help you make things sing for you with a Transporter in your system - likely for a small fee.

Conclusion
The Transporter is an excellent option for those who are looking to get the best possible performance from their audio files or anyone who needs a high-quality DAC. For someone who needs both, it's a steal. As the Transporter uses the same SqueezeCenter software to stream music files, it is the obvious choice for those Squeezebox owners seeking to add an audiophile-grade portal for their primary listening room while maintaining other Squeezebox products for the other rooms in the house.

Digital music files stored on hard drives or web-based storage services are the way of the future. Physical media has had a long run and is still in wide use, but the future is the digital music file. Fortunately, with the Transporter, you do not need to choose between your CDs and your music files. The Transporter provides exemplary sound quality, both as a DAC to your CD transport and as network music player. I highly recommend the Transporter if you need either.

Additional Resources
• Learn more about Logitech and their media servers from HomeTheaterReview.com.

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