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The Squeezebox Duet’s Wi-Fi remote is the melted butter to the receiver’s popcorn.
The Squeezebox Duet helps lazy music lovers live the dream of easy access to their digital album collections. Like an AirPort Express, the compact receiver connects to your stereo and plays songs from a wirelessly networked Mac, so you can enjoy your tunes without having to get up off the couch. But the receiver is just half of Logitech’s duo: Taking a feature from high-end systems, the Duet lets you control everything using its Wi-Fi LCD remote. That means that you’re free to wander away from the stereo and your Mac, changing tracks from anywhere on your Wi-Fi network. While the Duet hits a couple of sour notes, the sound quality and convenience are hard to beat.
It only took about ten minutes to get the Duet running. The Squeezebox wires audio through S/PDIF, digital coaxial, or a stereo pair of RCA jacks—we mostly stuck with those for our connection. And after connecting 100Base-T Ethernet and plugging it into the wall outlet, we configured the device through the remote. In the final step, we downloaded and installed the included SlimServer software on our Mac. This app allows you to access all of the playlists and songs in your Mac’s iTunes library—except DRM-protected tracks purchased from the iTunes Store.
Our music sounded great: We blasted rock and classical pieces that all sounded nuanced and complete. We also had our choice of talk radio and additional music via free online radio stations and Rhapsody’s optional subscription service.
The LCD remote’s iPod-style clickwheel let us spin our way through long lists, and we found the interface to be pretty straightforward. But the wheel’s slow acceleration gave us finger fatigue when scrolling through the 1,000-plus artists in our library. And we found certain inconsistencies annoying—the way you line up single tracks and full albums differs, for example.
There were additional problems: The Duet can’t connect to more than one Mac at a time to pool songs from multiple libraries. Nor can it play songs off an Ethernet hard disk; you’re required to leave your main Mac running the SlimServer software. You can use the included online storage space to host more of your collection as a workaround, but we’d rather be able to access songs from any networked Mac or external drive.Despite a few foibles, the Squeezebox Duet is a great way to control your digital music playback from anywhere on your Wi-Fi network. Just don’t forget to stretch your legs every once in a while.