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Mitchell J. Stein
2008-11-29, 22:15
I am an audiophile from the 70s. While I haven't lost my shape or my athleticism, apparently I have lost everything I knew about rock 'n roll sound from the 70s. In the 70s, it was about total harmonic distortion, bandwidth, and power. Now, it is about DAC, soundcards, and . . . somehow . . . tubes. Tubes predated the stuff I learned in the 70s! So, somebody has got to help.

I have a very simple question, and I'm not going to bore you with the background of why I'm asking the question. I have homes, home theaters, family rooms, old klipsche speakers, bose 901 series III and the rest of it.

But I also have a small office that I call "my own" and that is from where I am typing this post. In the office, I have a kick-ass computer with a huge screen next to my face. I also have a 56 inch Phillips television.

Now, my problem. I got talked into buying a Logitech 5500 and have it hooked up to the television and the IPOD home dock. The television sounds great even though DECCO tells me I'm full of ____ and my home theater guy tells me I'm crazy. As an audiophile (or at least a "wantabee" audiophile, or a rusty one), I use my ears. The 5500 -- even though it is cheap and filled with plastic -- sounds just fine in this room when played through the television.

However, the IPOD home dock sounds good only on SOME rock 'n roll songs. On others, it sounds HARD, ONE DIMENSIONAL, IMPERSONAL and not like the old ADVENTS I used to run against my 1968 "tube" McIntosh amplifiers 30 years ago. So, what to do? Do I spend $40,000 and re-tube the joint alongside all this computer equipment? Three "experts" have told me "yes." Others have told me I am "challenged". And, then, there are the few new folks (all below the age of 25) who have told me to forget the tubes, forget DECCO, forget Panasonic and just get the squeezbox and that it will not only CONTROL MY THEATER, MY BEDROOM, MY FAMILY ROOM, MY KITCHEN, MY STUDY AND EVERYTHING ELSE but that the squeezbox will also blow my mind regarding . . .

"DAC."

Is my problem the Z 5500 or the lack of a good DAC connected to my IPOD? Is the duet a good DAC? What in the world is a DAC and why is so important? Why should I be able to pay $500 for a Z5500 and get great sound just because I bought a duet? Isn't that violative of all the laws regarding tubes, signal to noise ratio, bandwidth, total harmonic distortion, etc., et al.?

Now, my second problem. If the duet really does the trick and bypasses the problem of my IPOD not having the proper DAC, then why am I not just buying the Transporter? Wouldn't the Transporter make this $500 Z5500 blow away anything else I could play in this very small (600 square feet) personal office? If DAC is so important, why am I not buying the Transporter for my personal office -- and a bunch of duets for the rest of the house (the rest of the house has tremendous equipment; athena speaker systems; powerful power amps; expensive integrated amps, etc.)? I am just upset because I have these very inexpensive Z5500 speakers and I kind of like the sound off of the TV. So, if the sound is good, why am I going to do something else?

Does the Transporter even have anything to do with DAC? Does DAC have anything to do with final "sound" or with my emotions upon hearing the sound, if the end player is merely the Z5500 which boasts a paltry "10% total harmonic distortion" (I am sophisticated enough to realize that digital "has no distortion" so 10% is a false figure -- but, still 10% seems very high doesn't it?)?

Please just tell me:

A. Should I throw the Z5500 away? I like the way it sounds through my TV, but I can't stand the IPOD sound on SOME SONGS ONLY (e.g., it "rocks" with "Dazed and Confused" but sounds terrible -- like an old a.m. transistor radio -- on "Jailhouse Rock").
B. Will the duet "improve" the sound of my ITUNES as it is played through the Z5500?
C. Are the people at DECCO correct when they say "no DAC makes a difference if you don't have the old "tubes," "audiophile," "70s equipment"? This is illogical to me, but I haven't a clue what is going on at this point given the intrusion of computers, sound cards and the rest of it into the fray.
D. If the duet is likely to improve this, is it really possible to make the Z5500 (which costs $500) a "saintly audio system" by using the Transporter? Can the Transporter "transport" the Z5500 into the next galaxy? Why?

I'm sorry for the lengthy post, but I've just ordered one duet and I'm thinking of getting a Transporter. I'm good with computers, but all these changes with "sound" have got me completely confused.

Logitech has a great website, but it never discusses how good or bad the Z5500 really is when it is coupled with the Transporter. Why the suspense? Why not just have Logitech state: "The Transporter is meant only for very high end, expensive, equipment that Logitech does not make."? You see my confusion. There is a gap in the Logitech website -- or maybe there is a gap in the Logitech sound systems versus the "squeezebox" technology. Or, maybe my brain has a gap? Which is it?

Being obsessive, I'm capable of going out and buying the top of the line surround sound for my little "heaven room" although -- on TV -- I like the 5500. How important is DAC? How bad is the 5500? DECCO said "throw it in the garbage and buy our pre-amp." However, everything Logitech does has been good for me up to now (my keyboard; my microphone; my videoset; my house videos; etc), and I decided to go a different route. My route is this forum. What are your opinions and experiences?

Thanks.

I appreciate your advice.

JJZolx
2008-11-29, 22:47
Wow.

Is your planned source component an iPod? If so, neither the Duet nor Transporter is what you want. What file format are your music files in?

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-11-29, 22:58
Wow.

Is your planned source component an iPod? If so, neither the Duet nor Transporter is what you want. What file format are your music files in?

Thanks for responding. I'm sorry but I got so confused I didn't make that clear. My source component is a gigantic ITUNES file in my computer with a huge network. That is what got me interested in Duet and Transporter. I plan on throwing all the IPODs away, because people are telling me the DAC on the IPODS and home docks are the source of the problem. Is that right? Is that what is making the Z5500 sound "spotty" (only good on certain tunes) or is it the "cheapness" of the Z5500 itself? The TV sounds great through the Z5500 and so I guess your question brings out the key question:

Is the Duet (or Transporter) playing off of a computer ITUNES (or internet radio) going to sound "audiophile quality" if played through a Z5500?

Go Steelers.

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-11-29, 23:02
Wow.

Is your planned source component an iPod? If so, neither the Duet nor Transporter is what you want. What file format are your music files in?

By the way, file format is the usual Apple file format when you download from Apple. I think it is called MPEG but I have no idea what that means. But the IPOD is just a download of these files. There must be every serious rock 'n roll song from 1956-1986 in there -- all in MPEG.

Thanks again.

JJZolx
2008-11-29, 23:18
Thanks for responding. I'm sorry but I got so confused I didn't make that clear. My source component is a gigantic ITUNES file in my computer with a huge network. That is what got me interested in Duet and Transporter. I plan on throwing all the IPODs away, because people are telling me the DAC on the IPODS and home docks are the source of the problem. Is that right? Is that what is making the Z5500 sound "spotty" (only good on certain tunes) or is it the "cheapness" of the Z5500 itself? The TV sounds great through the Z5500 and so I guess your question brings out the key question:

Is the Duet (or Transporter) playing off of a computer ITUNES (or internet radio) going to sound "audiophile quality" if played through a Z5500?

The "spotty" thing may be impossible to diagnose remotely, but I think it's fair to say that everybody has recordings that just sound like crap on their system, no matter what they do. Could be the original recording, the transfer from old tapes, the CD mastering, or any of a dozen other things making for a bad sounding recording.

You have a lot of options at the point where you find yourself. I don't I'd be completely out of line saying that you should consider starting all over.

First, if you want optimal sound, I'd give some thought to the file format that you use to encode your ripped CDs. If you're using lossy AAC or MP3, then you're at a disadvantage right from the get go. You may or may notice a difference by ripping to a lossless format like Flac or ALAC, but at least you could eliminate one source for sound degradation.

Next is the source. An iPod can sound Ok, but seldom as good as a fine CD player or a player such as a Squeezebox or Transporter. I'd say you're at a point where even thinking about the Transporter should be out of the question. Get a Duet or Squeezebox Classic first. See how you like it. Upgrading either one can take the form of either adding a nice sound external DAC or upgrading to the Transporter.

Then there's amplification and speakers. If you like the Z5500, great, but I'm sure you could improve upon the sound with better amplification and speakers. I would be very surprised if a Transporter would sound much different than a Duet through that system, particularly playing lossy files.

pfarrell
2008-11-29, 23:46
Mitchell J. Stein wrote:
> I have a very simple question, and I'm not going to bore you with the
> background of why I'm asking the question. I have homes, home
> theaters, family rooms, old klipsche speakers, bose 901 series III and
> the rest of it.

Do you still have your Large Advents? I still have two ( I gave two
others to a buddy.) They aren't my main listening speakers, but I sure
know what they sound like. They still bring a lot of bang for the buck,
but you need a big amp to drive those old things. I started with a
Dynaco ST120, and found that 400 watts or more helped a lot. (solid
state, you could get away with less when using quality tube amps.

> As an audiophile (or at least a
> "wantabee" audiophile, or a rusty one), I use my ears.

That is the only thing that anyone can trust.

> However, the IPOD home dock sounds good only on SOME rock 'n roll
> songs. On others, it sounds HARD, ONE DIMENSIONAL, IMPERSONAL and not
> like the old ADVENTS I used to run against my 1968 "tube" McIntosh
> amplifiers 30 years ago. So, what to do?

First get something other than the iPod as a source.
Second, to get real sounds, you can't use low end MP3 files.
But we can help with that.

Do you have a CD that you like? Say Dire Staits Brothers in Arms? or
some old Byrds?


> Do I spend $40,000 and re-tube the joint alongside all this computer equipment? Three
> "experts" have told me "yes."

They are either crooks, or think you have too much money.

But you may have to spend a few thousand to get back in the game.


> Is my problem the Z 5500 or the lack of a good DAC connected to my
> IPOD? Is the duet a good DAC?

The duet has a very decent DAC, when you feed it good sources.


> What in the world is a DAC and why is so important?

Digital to Analog Convertor. Its what converts bits to sound waves that
you can feed to an amp to feed to your speakers.



> Now, my second problem. If the duet really does the trick and bypasses
> the problem of my IPOD not having the proper DAC, then why am I not just
> buying the Transporter?

You can do that, but I recommend you start lower, spend less, and make
sure you are going the correct way.

Where are you physically? You may find someone here that is willing to
let you come to their house. For example, I live outside Washington DC.


> Does the Transporter even have anything to do with DAC?

The Transporter contains a DAC.
The Duet contains a DAC, it just costs less than the one in the Transporter.

> C. Are the people at DECCO correct when they say "no DAC makes a
> difference if you don't have the old "tubes," "audiophile," "70s
> equipment"? This is illogical to me

They are blowing smoke.

Pat

--
Pat Farrell
http://www.pfarrell.com/

amcluesent
2008-11-30, 02:32
>By the way, file format is the usual Apple file format when you download from Apple<

From the iTunes Store? If so, the music will have Apple's Digital rights Managament (DRM) applied, so can only be played through Apple equipment.

You may do better with Apple's Airport express and Airtunes if you've already bought into Apple's kit with Ipods etc. Or maybe AppleTV to hook up to your TV.

>is it really possible to make the Z5500 (which costs $500) a "saintly audio system" by using the Transporter?<

No.

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-11-30, 06:31
The "spotty" thing may be impossible to diagnose remotely, but I think it's fair to say that everybody has recordings that just sound like crap on their system, no matter what they do. Could be the original recording, the transfer from old tapes, the CD mastering, or any of a dozen other things making for a bad sounding recording.

You have a lot of options at the point where you find yourself. I don't I'd be completely out of line saying that you should consider starting all over.

First, if you want optimal sound, I'd give some thought to the file format that you use to encode your ripped CDs. If you're using lossy AAC or MP3, then you're at a disadvantage right from the get go. You may or may notice a difference by ripping to a lossless format like Flac or ALAC, but at least you could eliminate one source for sound degradation.

Next is the source. An iPod can sound Ok, but seldom as good as a fine CD player or a player such as a Squeezebox or Transporter. I'd say you're at a point where even thinking about the Transporter should be out of the question. Get a Duet or Squeezebox Classic first. See how you like it. Upgrading either one can take the form of either adding a nice sound external DAC or upgrading to the Transporter.

Then there's amplification and speakers. If you like the Z5500, great, but I'm sure you could improve upon the sound with better amplification and speakers. I would be very surprised if a Transporter would sound much different than a Duet through that system, particularly playing lossy files.

Helpful post. That was my instinct. 10% THD doesn't seem to cut it, at least on paper. I wonder why logitech doesn't come out with a better amplification system? If they are charging $1800 for a Transporter, you'd think they have a spiffy amplifier, a great subwoofer and a fantastic pair of bookshelf speakers to buy. I guess maybe in the future. But the post is helpful. Along with the other posts, it convinces me: I'm just going to try the Duet (I'm not much worried about Apple's "rights" because I scanned a lot of the CDs in myself as well; although based upon your post I'm not going to throw the home dock away so quickly!). If the Duet doesn't improve this Z5500 set up, I'm going to scrap it, get the Advents out of the basement and go shopping for a monster receiver. However, if the Z5500 IS improved, I'll tell you all on Wednesday because it says a lot about "sound" these days. Thanks again.

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-11-30, 07:24
Please see below as these messages don't link up well on my screen.


Mitchell J. Stein wrote:
> I have a very simple question, and I'm not going to bore you with the
> background of why I'm asking the question. I have homes, home
> theaters, family rooms, old klipsche speakers, bose 901 series III and
> the rest of it.

Do you still have your Large Advents? I still have two ( I gave two
others to a buddy.) They aren't my main listening speakers, but I sure
know what they sound like. They still bring a lot of bang for the buck,
but you need a big amp to drive those old things. I started with a
Dynaco ST120, and found that 400 watts or more helped a lot. (solid
state, you could get away with less when using quality tube amps.

> As an audiophile (or at least a
> "wantabee" audiophile, or a rusty one), I use my ears.

That is the only thing that anyone can trust.

> However, the IPOD home dock sounds good only on SOME rock 'n roll
> songs. On others, it sounds HARD, ONE DIMENSIONAL, IMPERSONAL and not
> like the old ADVENTS I used to run against my 1968 "tube" McIntosh
> amplifiers 30 years ago. So, what to do?

First get something other than the iPod as a source.
Second, to get real sounds, you can't use low end MP3 files.
But we can help with that.

Do you have a CD that you like? Say Dire Staits Brothers in Arms? or
some old Byrds?


> Do I spend $40,000 and re-tube the joint alongside all this computer equipment? Three
> "experts" have told me "yes."

They are either crooks, or think you have too much money.

But you may have to spend a few thousand to get back in the game.


> Is my problem the Z 5500 or the lack of a good DAC connected to my
> IPOD? Is the duet a good DAC?

The duet has a very decent DAC, when you feed it good sources.


> What in the world is a DAC and why is so important?

Digital to Analog Convertor. Its what converts bits to sound waves that
you can feed to an amp to feed to your speakers.



> Now, my second problem. If the duet really does the trick and bypasses
> the problem of my IPOD not having the proper DAC, then why am I not just
> buying the Transporter?

You can do that, but I recommend you start lower, spend less, and make
sure you are going the correct way.

Where are you physically? You may find someone here that is willing to
let you come to their house. For example, I live outside Washington DC.


> Does the Transporter even have anything to do with DAC?

The Transporter contains a DAC.
The Duet contains a DAC, it just costs less than the one in the Transporter.

> C. Are the people at DECCO correct when they say "no DAC makes a
> difference if you don't have the old "tubes," "audiophile," "70s
> equipment"? This is illogical to me

They are blowing smoke.

Pat

Pat, thanks for the comprehensive post. It really helps because I am impulsive and was capable of buying all kinds of wasteful things. I am new to this forum, and can't figure out how you are able to post in blue responsive to each question. Kind of neat. I'll figure it out eventually. Here's some responses and why your answers were helpful:

1. I still have the Advents (the speakers are such that the word Advent must always be capitalized). If the Duet doesn't completely solve the problem, I'm bringing them out and replacing the woofers in the process. But after seeing the posts, and reading yours carefully, my opinion is "not so fast." I want to see what the Duet does. I told DECCO to take a hike. In any event, I originally ran the Advents off a 1978 Pioneer SX-1280. I remember listening to Boston and Zeppelin and The Beatles and Wings off of them 12 hours per day in my college dorm room. I was at Indiana U. My dorm mates would be competing with the Grateful Dead, who I never much liked but respected that they got off on it. So I would just shove Achilles Last Stand down their throat on the Advents (even if I had to play it 30 straight times) and they'd leave for the day. It seems like yesterday and nothing I've seen has sounded that good since. However, in a spring cleaning with my x-wife (note I said "x"), she sold "the monster" Pioneer (which was also quite beautiful) in a yard sale circa 1988 for $100. Obviously, we were divorced within a few years from that fateful day. (I was practicing law and only interested in my car stereo at the time.)

2. Thanks for the comment on the IPOD. You'd be surprised. If somebody would just "say it," then us people who are trying to make a comeback can make the right moves. Everybody is saying something different. Apple is trying to get me to buy a different docking station. Then there is this other company called Sonos? Who put them into my life? Using pure logic, I figured that the source was "bad," just like having a bad turntable 30 years ago or a bad tape deck circa same. But nobody will just COME OUT AND SAY IT like you did. I'm keeping the sound dock, but only for smaller uses (maybe on my boat). I'm gonna make sure that the duet is not the answer. You are right. Most prudent way to go. However, if duet is the answer, I would appreciate somebody telling me what extra "ya yas" I would experience from the Transporter. The thing looks nice on the website. There's got to be some technology in there! I'm pretty sure the MPEG-4 format is good. That is what I'm using, so maybe the duet will lead me in the right direction. Is that right?

3. I have an audiophile-worthy CD player and also a large home threater "on the other side of the house" with a huge Sony system installed by "professionals." (It sounds "just OK" and "came with the house.") In any event, the only disks I still have that I like are the entire Eagles collection and 10 visual concerts (DVDs) of Clapton.

4. I am in Pittsburgh and would love any assistance if you know how to get someone here. This little room I've developed is like a sanctuary to rock 'n roll (I was at the first three pink floyd concerts as a kid), bodybuilding, roberto clemente and the steelers. Then, I've got a Computer Tower with a large monitor with 6 hard drives each holding 500GB. And then, I've got this huge television (new phillips) to watch the games and movies. That is where the problem has come in. All of the experts have been wrong so far. They are nickel and diming me. I got two new IPOD docking stations. No good. Larger speaker wire. No good. A new generation IPOD in which I went through the brain damage of downloading my ITUNES four times until I got it right -- developing 8 new playlists -- I mean, complete and total maniacal and wasteful work. No difference. (The IPOD guy said the new generation IPOD had the "finest DAC made;" that is the first time I heard the phrase "DAC.") Because the TV sounds great out of the Z5500, I have not pulled out the Advents from the basement and gone for a new receiver . . . yet. I will do that next, but you seem to be saying "not so fast" and the duet will be here Tuesday. I'll tell you how it goes. I hope it is not too hard to hook up.

5. Your comment about DECCO. LMFAO. I ordered the unit, but cancelled the order on the Internet this morning after reading your post. If they shipped it (40 watts per channel or something; what was I thinking?), I am sending it back w/letter to follow. But don't laugh at me too much before first looking at their misleading advertisement and realize what my issues are. It looked like it was "the answer." Click here to see their misleading advertisement on this exact issue:

http://www.signalpathint.com/images/stories/Brochures/decco_brochure_v2.pdf

Hell, they even say that you need their system if you are buying a duet? Now, after reading your post, it is a little clearer. I've just got to see if duet's DAC makes a difference in "my own ears" and if it does, I then hook up a squeezebox in every room in the house (I already have good systems throughout the house) and . . . bingo. But how about DECCO? What are they doing man? Convincing a perfectly good, albeit slightly damaged, brain who has listened to his share of music so that he knows it all by heart (note for note, word for word), to buy a 40 watt per channel, two channel, amplifier? Pretty sick.

Am willing to spend what is needed "to get back in the game" but I want to incorporate the new stuff because it is obviously important since all my music is now in digital format.

I also need some help with my theater room. The screen is the size of a theater and something is missing on the sound. The rack has 10 components on it and it all works off of some gigantic remote control. I'll post on that later. You seem to know your stuff. I am tired of having the experts come out and sell me. They want me to turn the pool lights, the outside lights, the garbage disposal and the jacuzzi on and off with the theater room remote control. Things are getting bad here. "Got to get down to it. Soldiers are cutting us down."

Thanks Pat!
--
Pat Farrell
http://www.pfarrell.com/

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-11-30, 07:37
The "spotty" thing may be impossible to diagnose remotely, but I think it's fair to say that everybody has recordings that just sound like crap on their system, no matter what they do. Could be the original recording, the transfer from old tapes, the CD mastering, or any of a dozen other things making for a bad sounding recording.

You have a lot of options at the point where you find yourself. I don't I'd be completely out of line saying that you should consider starting all over.

First, if you want optimal sound, I'd give some thought to the file format that you use to encode your ripped CDs. If you're using lossy AAC or MP3, then you're at a disadvantage right from the get go. You may or may notice a difference by ripping to a lossless format like Flac or ALAC, but at least you could eliminate one source for sound degradation.

Next is the source. An iPod can sound Ok, but seldom as good as a fine CD player or a player such as a Squeezebox or Transporter. I'd say you're at a point where even thinking about the Transporter should be out of the question. Get a Duet or Squeezebox Classic first. See how you like it. Upgrading either one can take the form of either adding a nice sound external DAC or upgrading to the Transporter.

Then there's amplification and speakers. If you like the Z5500, great, but I'm sure you could improve upon the sound with better amplification and speakers. I would be very surprised if a Transporter would sound much different than a Duet through that system, particularly playing lossy files.

Thanks JJ. Your post just amplifies the others. I am using MPEG-4 format, so that is probably alright. As I said to the other guys, thanks for just telling me that IPOD as a source is probably not that good. It is nice to just hear it, since nobody at an audio store will say it. You say get the Duet first, which is now the consensus. That is what I am doing. If it works, though, maybe somebody can tell me what other bells and whistles exist in the Transporter. The thing looks great, and maybe it will even make a greater difference. I agree I can improve on the sound of the Z5500 -- that is obvious from the specs -- but yet it sounds good coming from the Phillips TV source? However, it makes no logical sense that I could clean up a Z5500 with an expensive Transporter. But, I'm crazy enough to do the test for you. Just walk me through it. I'm starting with the Duet (will arrive Tuesday) and will report back. If the Duet makes a difference in my own ears, then I'm ready to do the test with the Transporter. I read somewhere that -- with digital -- there IS NO distortion so the amplifier specs don't really matter that much if the DAC and file formats are right. So, it appears we are about to find out what is more important: DAC/file formats . . . or amplification methods . . . or both. Thanks a lot for your answers. The consensus it creates makes me know I'm on the right track.

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-11-30, 07:44
>By the way, file format is the usual Apple file format when you download from Apple<

From the iTunes Store? If so, the music will have Apple's Digital rights Managament (DRM) applied, so can only be played through Apple equipment.

You may do better with Apple's Airport express and Airtunes if you've already bought into Apple's kit with Ipods etc. Or maybe AppleTV to hook up to your TV.

>is it really possible to make the Z5500 (which costs $500) a "saintly audio system" by using the Transporter?<

No.

Clue:

I know the Z5500 is not going to turn into the movie theater around the corner here, just from the Transporter. But hope springs eternal! I've put a lot of my disks into ITUNES myself, so I'm not sure it is a problem. However, I've downloaded a lot too. How will Apple know that my ITUNES library is being read off of a router by Duet? If that is the case, then I'll create new Internet playlists off of using Rhapsody or the other station. I cannot go down the road with Apple any more. They have sold me too much hogwash in trying to leverage off of the IPOD. In fact, they have sold me 3 different generations of IPODs, and I Phone (that they said had a DAC) and a Touch POD or something of the short.

Now, if the Duet does not SOUND BETTER TO ME, then maybe I'll go back and look at Apple. But if the Duet gives me the sound, then it is obviously the source and my computer is a darn good source and I've spent a bundle on it.

Thanks a lot for your post. I'll let you know how much trouble I get in when the Duet arrives.

Patrick Dixon
2008-11-30, 08:51
The Transporter was designed by Slim Devices well before Logitech bought the company. I doubt very much that Logitech bought Slim Devices because of the Transporter, I think they were much more interested in the SB3 technology, which is more in keeping with the mass market appeal of Logitech's other products.

Logitech have subsequently designed the Duet and the Boom, both great mass market appeal products, so I'd guess, if pushed, they'd agree that the TP is 'unsual' in their product range, rather than there being a gap where other 'high end' products might be.

Mark Lanctot
2008-12-01, 11:54
In response to your question about what the Transporter has that the Duet does not:

- better DAC. Better than the Duet, much better than the iPod.

- better power regulation to allow all components to perform better

- 24/96 playback capability. You probably don't have 24/96 files right now.

- 2 screens (the Duet has none built into it, just in the controller). This allows it to be seen across the room and it also allows nice visualizers - VU meters, spectrum analyzers, etc.

- front controls, including a force feedback knob.

- ability to be used as a DAC for other digital components

- advanced connectivity features you can't use now like RS-232, BNC, XLR, AES/EBU and word clock in connectors

- IR port. This allows it to be controlled by a universal remote. The Duet doesn't have an IR port. There's also an IR out port to control other devices.

- much better wireless connectivity - two large aerials.

So - some of these things might be useful to you, some might not.

Yes, the Transporter does sound better than the Duet - with the price difference, it ought to. However whether the price difference justifies how "much better" you perceive it to be is up to what you connect it to, your ears and personal preferences.

Connecting the Transporter to the Z5500s is no doubt a waste. Connecting it to a preamp, a powerful amp and your old Advents is another story...Start with the Duet to the Z5500s and see if you like it though.

In regards to your comment that "with digital -- there IS NO distortion so the amplifier specs don't really matter that much if the DAC and file formats are right", well, of course there's always distortion. There's never going to be "perfect playback". It's a different sort of distortion than analog components though. It's managed through good power supplies and good DACs - the iPod is mediocre on both counts. However amplifier specs do have a huge part to play in the final sound - at some point the sound still has to go through an amplifier and speakers and both have a HUGE role to play, arguably much more so than the digital source. The differences between amplifiers and speakers can easily negate the sound differences between the Duet and the Transporter. The differences are arguably much larger.

Finally, in regards to why Logitech doesn't make speakers to go with the Transporter - the Transporter was developed by a company called Slim Devices which was acquired by Logitech only a short time ago (2 years?). Logitech just haven't had development time to really integrate the Slim Devices stuff into their product line, but it's happening. Boom is an example of this, it uses Logitech-sourced speakers (what's innovative is that they're driven by a chip which compensates for the shortcomings of these small speakers, but that's another story).

tcutting
2008-12-01, 12:39
I think you are missing something with regards to file formats. Anything bought from the iTunes store will be in a "lossy" format. MP3 players and iPods have limited storage capacity, so the files are compressed to make them smaller. MP3 is a standard compression format, and Apple uses a similar format (AAC, I believe). Not sure about your MP4, but I think the Apple AACs may "show up" as "MP4" - anyway, these are all LOSSY compression formats. To make the files small, some of the original information was "thrown away" using complex computer algorithms which try to determine what information is "least important". There are various levels of "lossy-ness", depending on the parameters used to convert the information.
There are, however, "lossless" compression formats which provide some file-size reduction (but a lot less than the "lossy" compression), but provide bit-accurate representation of the original information. For example, if you "rip" a CD, using a lossless compression format you will end up with ALL the information which was on the CD (you don't "throw anything away"). If, however, you convert/store into a "lossy" format (MP3 or AAC or MP4(?)), you've created a smaller file, but lost some information in the process.

All that said, to get the best sound, you really should stick with lossless file formats. FLAC is the generally recommended standard, and there is also an "Apple lossless" format (ALAC, I believe). For anything you have already on CD, this would require re-ripping the CDs, and storing in one of these lossless formats. The Squeezebox Receiver (player part of the Duet), Transporter, Squeezebox2, Squeezebox3 all can play the FLAC format directly. There are tools for doing this, and plenty of more detail in the "Ripping / Encoding / Transcoding / Tagging" forum, and probably on the wiki as well.

JadeMonkee
2008-12-02, 21:16
Hi there,
I honestly believe that if you think your existing speakers are fine for most of the music or movies you use them for, then changing to either the Transporter, or even a Duet won't help because they aren't related to the problem. Keep the ipod; I think the problem lies in your music library.
I think the very fact that some songs sound good, and some songs sound bad is because they are compressed at different levels.
Go into the settings in iTunes and tell us what quality (not just format) you are ripping at.
If we here believe it is at an acceptable level (by default, I belive it isn't), then create a (short) list of (some of) the songs that sound bad.
You may find that these are the ones you downloaded. Play them and find out what bitrate they are encoded at (this is the easiest way to find out quality). If there is no bitrate info, then look at the file size. It should be (for mp3 or mp4) about 1MB for every minute of a song (not a definitie rule).
If the iTunes encoding quality is at a low level, then we've solved your problem (and for free no less).
I'm almost positive you'll find that the songs that sound bad are related to the quality at which they were encoded, and NOT your equipment.
Those with smaller file sizes and lower bitrates will sound worse than those with larger.
Save yourself the money, dig out your old CDs and rip them in a lossless format; you certainly seem to have the storage available.
If you can't fit them all on your ipod in lossless format (it's about 10x larger than lossy), then rip to a high quality lossy (we can help you in choosing which one).
There is plenty of information on the different formats available on the internet. The wiki at Hydrogen Audio (http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/) is a goldmine.

Note that I am not an iTunes user, so can't answer any help questions about it.

Hope that helps.

Oh, and you can't trust music you've downloaded from the internet for quality. High quality downloads are usually few and far between.

sc53
2008-12-03, 11:16
To reiterate what the prior guys said--you need to check your iTunes preferences to see what format you are improting your CDs with. The default format is LOSSY compressed bad sounding audio. You have to manually change the format to the Apple Lossless format for importing CDs. If you haven't done that, you must re-rip all the CDs in your iTunes library. If you have downloaded music into that library, undoubtedly that is also in a LOSSY format which will also sound bad through a decent system. Lastly, if you have downloaded music from the iTunes music store, none of it will play through Duet/Squeezebox/Transporter because that music is copy protected and won't stream to the Duet etc.
So you have preliminary tasks to do before you go out and buy new electronics. Once you upgrade your music library to Lossless format, you may find you don't need any new speakers, amps etc.
I read the Decco ad and that piece does not look like a bad compromise if you have good mini monitor speakers to hook the piece up to. Didn't see what the price of it is but if not too expensive it might be worth a try with small mini monitors and a Squeezebox.

MrSinatra
2008-12-03, 11:45
a lot of advice will be coming at you, and a lot of it here is good.

money doesn't seem to be an issue, so why not buy a duet, and try it out? my guess is you'll love it. and from there, you can get more SBRs, SBs, transports, whatever.

when i give advice to people, i like to try to figure out HOW they will use the music. if they are an audiophile, i tell them go flac. if they want convenience, i tell them go mp3.

one thing i always stress is that i hate itunes. i wonder if you're now tied into it due to DRM concerns. i would never trust ANY music from apple, and i hate the way itunes does things, not just organizationally, but to the music itself.

in my case, i play it by ear, so to speak. i can't tell a CD from a 256kbps mp3, and so i simply rip all my CDs myself, and that way i know exactly what i got, where it came from, and what process was used to make the mp3. (i have some downloads, but i archive them separately)

at some future point, i might archive some fave material in flac, but i don't find it necessary to do so at the moment.

so, i suggest you get EAC or dbpoweramp (google em) make some secure rips in FLAC (since you're an audiophile and money is no problem) and then play them back using SC over your Duet.

my guess is you will love what you hear. you can them compare your "control group" of self made rips to all your other stuff, and decide where to go from there.

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-12-04, 23:39
Well, I've done all the tests.

I guess it appears dumb, but you were all right. The man who responded in blue was the most right of all -- thank you Mr. Ferrell. You were all spot on.

However, trust me, I am now an expert. Do not second guess me at this point. If you want the truth, here it is -- although you all said it TO ME so I am just really saying it back to you:

1. The IPOD sucks. It compresses files. There is no way to get them back out to a full listening device unless headphones is alright with you. I do not like headphones, although if you put me in a casket they'll be fine. However, trust me. I'll kick some serious butt until that happens. "Thunder only happens when its raining."

2. The Z5500 -- while cheap -- kicks the shit out of my 23 bose and boston acoustics theater on the other side of the house. Ferrell is correct. The problem was a THUMPY bass and a DISTORTED high end brought about by the IPOD. He's just correct. If you do not like it, then watch the Waltons or something. It is just a fact. If you do not like what my ears heard, talk to Ferrell. He said it in his first post.

3. I have $500,000 worth of stereo equipment in this house and I now "get it." The big bose system with 10 speakers is a design to "go digital to digital." The Athena speakers are old tube speakers that rock -- but they must be driven. They can blow the doors off of these cheap, plastic Z5500 speakers BUT ONLY IF THE Z5500S are not used properly. If the cheap, plastic, mickey mouse, donald duck 5500s are just treated like Ferrell suggested -- i.e., put a duet on them, rip your cds, set them up right, and let it rock -- then guess what: YOU CANNOT BEAT THE 5500s unless YOU WISH TO SPEND $50,000. Not $10,000. That won't do it. $20,000? That won't do it. The 5500s require a lot of things to beat them. You need the bass. Any sub woofer will not do. Then you require 20,000 Hz. Forget it without the right amp, sub woofer, tweeter, signal to noise and -- if you are trying to hit it all off of an IPOD -- go home boy. YOU CANNOT HIT IT. PERIOD. The IPOD cannot hit it. Ferrell said they were blowing smoke on me. "The Rainbow Has A Beard" (Cream, 1968). I wasted $2,000 chasing their BS. It is smoke. Don't trust it. It is untrue. You no longer have to spend big money to rock the house down. PERIOD. PERIOD. PERIOD. Spend your money on women or whatever. But this industry is different now. Do your research like I did. I have the thousands in this house. But I spend my time around the 5500s and the Duet. And -- trust me -- I know more about music then you do.

4. I like all my other systems but AS FERRELL HAS SAID (and Sinatra) if you are running an IPOD through those systems then it is "garbage in." Ferrell told me "get the Duet first and then get the Transporter." I got the Duet. I've tested all of my systems with studio equipment and back up. Right now, "Purple Haze" has just come on Slacker as we speak. The other systems, besides the Z5500, cannot reproduce what I am hearing right now. I am neither drunk nor high. I am 50 years old. I am telling you that the Duet "softens the lows and accentuates" the highs like nothing you've heard. I'll be specific. Put on an IPOD with Purple Haze. Tell me what Jimmy Hendrix says in the middle of the song. Just paste the words here____________________
__________________________________________________ _______________________________. Well, I can hear them all being said and now Hendrix is moaning as his amp is hitting on all cylinders vis a vis his fingers.

5. Now Slacker is playing "Under My Thumb" by the Stones. I don't like the Stones (more a Beatles fan; sorry but enjoyed pasting the art when ripping my heart out of apple's BS). However, again, I am listening and he says "she's the sweetest pet in the world." I never heard that line before. I'm sure it is my fault. However, isn't that what Ferrell and perhaps Sinatra predicted.

6. I simply ran the Duet through my analogue like Ferrell suggested. We can't go from "shitty digital" to "shitty digital" (and the Z5500 is in fact shitty if you do not "de-digitalize" the signal first) now can we. So I ran it back to analogue. Just like they "wrote it up." And now: The only issue is whether I will leave home. Rock 'n roll shall never die.

7. This system blows them all away. It is cheap. It is a Z5500 and a Duet. That is it. I have nothing else. I dunno if I will even buy a Transporter. Maybe -- but really as Ferrell said it is not necessary (I am a rock 'n roll freak so I'll probably do it just "BECAUSE"). In the end, I'll buy the Transporter because I feel guilty that I have spent no money to get all this music and and all this sound. Hell, in 1982, this entire set up including the music would be priceless -- at least $100,000 -- and remember the songs weren't there yet (e.g., Journey: Who's Crying Now).

8. Now, let's break this down:

A. Theater room: McIntosh $28,000 amp. A Rack of Equipment that makes you swallow your Adam's apple. 9 subwoofers. 20 seats. What am I going to do?: Install a Duet and pray.

B. Family room: Pioneer Z128A. 500 watts per channel minimum RMS into 8 ohms with no more than .001 THD. Athena speakers, sub woofers and bookshelves in the back. BUT IT HAS AN IPOD. THE Z5500 BLOWS ITS DOORS OFF. IT NEEDS A DUET AND ONE IS ONE THE WAY. THE ATHENA SPEAKERS CANNOT CLEAN UP THE IPOD. ALL THE KINGS HORSES AND ALL THE KINGS MEN . . ..

C. Study: Bose Companion with 50 playmates and cocktail bunnies. 15 little speakers and a gigantic sub woofer. I am so confused I don't know what to do. I know it needs a Duet and it will have one in two days. But now -- what the hell is this thing? Why don't I just get a 5500? This thing cost me $6,000. What is going on here?

D. There are five other rooms but now I am sitting in my private study with the following:

i. z5500 - $400.00
ii. Duet - $400.00.

I've got four speakers, one center channel, one sub woofer, and its all hooked up to the top of the line Phillips television with multi-lighting. Even with the Phillips, we are now at $1,900.

Where do I want to spend my time? Right here. Why? I've got the Duet and the 5500, AND IT BLOWS THE DOORS OFF OF EVERYTHING ELSE.

Ignore me and waste your money.

Its your choice.

But, I say thank you to Ferrell and Sinatra.

Warning: My wife will probably be out looking for you. The only risk here is that I'm still in great shape and I might leave home with all this rock 'n roll. However, that's not your problem and we all know that.

The Doberman has met his match: Logitech does not just sell keyboards. This shit is serious. Trust me. You can now get "all the stuff" for under $1,000. Its a fact. Just post and Ferrell will explain it. And so will I (Joplin comes on Slacker as I sign off -- a symbol obviously).

Peace.

Mitch.

JadeMonkee
2008-12-04, 23:58
That post was awesome.

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-12-05, 01:54
Thanks for the compliment, but I was merely spitting back what you guys told me.

Again, the only issue is whether this "de-apple-ization" of the Doberman will lead to a mid-life crisis. Certainly, my intake of Whey will increase along with my military presses. Hope springs eternal on all fronts. Sad.

By the way "Audials One" -- $50 -- was the system I used to "rip apart" the thievery created by Apple and my Ipod. All of my tunes are now in Windows Media Player (thanks to Audials One), sitting nicely waiting for the Duet to transport them to the nearest "way station" ("Heaven Can Wait," Warren Beatty, 1980). I'll wait for the Apple Police to get here, then I'll take them to court -- I am a trial lawyer and I am pissed off. Here, I downloaded 7,000 tunes from I Tunes (everything except the Beatles) and then I learned that I am a miniature turtle, stuck inside of an IPOD. Then, they try to sell me all this equipment that "digitalizes the Steeler football games." I've been to all 6 Super Bowls in person, and the answer was NO NO NO NO NO NO.

So, I was mistaken on the price of my little saintly system that I will use most days:

Logitech z5500 - $400.00
Logitech Duet - $400.00
Audials One - $ 50.00.
(Plasma TV - they cost virtually nothing now, and use a Coaxial cable as it sounds the best; it plugs right into the coaxial input of the "piece of shit" z5500 if that is what you use -- since everybody says they are "bad news," you can get one almost anywhere.)

Now, don't get me wrong. My Phillips is 50" or so. But my theater room is 100". So, on the "big football games," I'll go into the media room. But not if I can help it. I like this z5500 -- it just sounds good.

Otherwise, as I said, you can't get me out of here. And, in a day or two, every room will have a squeeze box just so I can "control the house" from in this small study. Eventually, it will be the movie Psycho.

I looked at your website and background and you obviously know what you are doing. You've got the two squeeze boxes -- one wired and one wireless. You figured it out -- probably long ago.

I wish I had learned sooner. You can only listen to "Stairway to Heaven" in a virtual stairway so many times before you say enough is enough.

Peace, and thanks.

Mitch.

MrSinatra
2008-12-05, 09:37
Mitch,

you may not believe this but i had guessed you were not only a lawyer, but a steelers fan. call it a premonition. (i'm an eagles fan, 9 sacks btw, and a PSU guy as well)

in any case...

i have some possible bad news for you. itunes really is the devil. it sounds like you were able to defeat the DRM on it, and thats great, but there are at least two other related concerns i'd have with music from apple.

the first is that the music you got from apple might have already been compressed, and i don't mean the file format. what i mean is who knows how apple masters the tracks b4 it makes them available for download? it wouldn't surprise me in the least if in an effort to make them louder, they compress them at the source, which is a headroom and bass killer.

similarly, itunes itself applies changes to your local files. i'm not 100% on how it does it, if it uses innocuous replaygain tags, or something sinister like applying compression or actual gain changes / normalization to the file/music itself, but here again we see apple doing as it pleases.

i'm not saying delete all your tunes, but considering your enthusiasm, i would consider getting the source CDs and making FLACs out of them. and if you like the Rolling Stones as an example, the 2002 remasters with 24bit sound blow away the original releases. its night and day. allmusic.com can help many times identifying which remasters sound best. (but this is a whole nother story, just wanted to clue you in)

one thing i was curious about in your post, it seemed like you were saying that going duet > analog > z5500 was "the way" as opposed to duet > digital > z5500. is that correct?

i do the same thing essentially, b/c the DAC in the SB is better than whats in my receiver. (btw, SBs have a slightly better DAC than the Duet, but i would never hear the difference. however, you should get a SB2 or SB3 just for the neat visualizations it does, like the EQ or VU meters, which i consider very retro 70s and fun)

tcutting
2008-12-05, 09:59
And realize, once you have ONE duet, you can add additional receivers - either SBR (the receiver half of the duet) and use to Controller (SBC) from the duet to configure it. OR... you can get the Squeezebox Classic (aka SB3), which can be controlled with the original duet's controller or its own IR remote (or universal remote), AND it has display. (I just say this because your "low price" description includes $400 per location for Duet, but the SBR is $150, or a SB Classic is ~$250).
Also, consider cleaning up your library... if you are sold on iTunes, work on ripping stuff to the Apple Lossless format, OR leave the Apple proprietary formats altogether and start transitioning to FLAC.
Who knows, you might be able to get all those other systems to actually sound BETTER than the SBR/Z5500 combo!
Good Luck!

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-12-05, 11:05
Mr. Sinatra:

Thanks again for helping me. Yes, the Phil. Eagles got to Big Ben. No, the Eagles will not win the Super Bowl. It will be the Giants against the Steelers. Except for the "punt over the goal post" deal, Pgh. already beat up the Giants. It will be a good game. (I am not counting the Eagles out yet, but they did kick our butts now didn't they!)

Your description about ITUNES' criminality explains a strange thing that happened when I ripped those tunes out of ITUNES and re-compressed them, uncompressed them, and then put them through some warmth. Now, those tunes are playing through the Duet and people are having sex 12 blocks away from here. The strange thing is this: You guys told me not to use MP3, so I used WAV at first. WAV is professional grade engineering. It is the standard. My father in law wrote about 200 famous rock and roll songs -- neat guy. He told me to do it. Forget the fact that the ripping took WAY TOO LONG AND it didn't carry the artwork with it. How about this: After it was done it sounded TERRIBLE. I couldn't understand. I ate my wheaties, I listened to my FIL, I talked to Steven Stills who is a friend of mine, I did it the right way. So, what happened?

Then, you get these professionals who talk under their breath and you cannot understand what they said. Stills said "if you are converting to WAV off of a defective file -- like the Apple stuff -- WAV will highlight the inadequacy. I said "how's that?" Stills then disappeared into a room and was playing his guitar in his guitar room and was no longer speaking for the day (a total maniac). So I was left with this sound bite from him that "was what it was." I then talked to my FIL who recorded -- e.g., You Make Me So Very Happy -- and he said "Steve is right, but don't give up on MP3 files because it is all about the conversion -- can you heat up the music again." Then, to use your logo, I had a Martini because I had no clue what these folks were speaking about.

Now, from your post, it all makes sense. Apple is screwing with these files in other ways. That is why there was only one way that I could get the Audials One (Tunebite) to make the music sound correct. I had to use its fantastic "Perfect Audio" feature. What that does is the following: It rips Apple a part -- kind of like a mountain lion attacking a coyote -- but then it does it TWICE IN A ROW IN TWO DIFFERENT RAW FORMATS. Then, it automatically compares the two versions and it compares the versions to a database and marries them to come away with one song that is "Perfect;" hence "Perfect Audio." It takes a little longer but I SUSPECT THEY HAD TO DEVELOP THAT TECHNOLOGY IN ORDER TO GET PEOPLE TO BUY THEIR PRODUCT BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE NOW COMING OUT FROM APPLE'S LITTLE PET ROCK AND YOU NEED A REDUNDANT SYSTEM IN ORDER TO MAKE THE AUDIO COMPLETELY ORIGINAL AGAIN. I am positive you are right, Frank S., because this is the only explanation I have for the comments made by the two experts, because the WAV file sounded like a horse was running beside the recording, and because once I used "Perfect Audio" with MP3 I learned that MP3 is just fine IF IT IS RUN THROUGH ANALOG FIRST BEFORE IT GOES BACK TO DIGITAL, SOMETHING APPLE CANNOT DO!

I think -- if you are correct -- we have the grounds for a massive class action lawsuit here. Apple sells that they are giving you the top and best of the best. Yet they might be giving you the worst of the worst. And they are not telling anybody. What's worse is that they are forcing you to marry their shitty ITUNES system, which leads to docking stations, sound systems and a digital whorehouse (Sonos does not work -- another story) even though all that could ruin a perfectly good $50,000 sound system. It is about DISCLOSURE. Why didn't they tell me this before I downloaded my library? What is unfair about that? How much downloading do you think me and the rest of us stupid idiots have spent downloading files from Apple?

In answer to your question about analog versus digital on the back of the squeeze box, if you are using any sort of "computer stereo" (even the z5500 which is far away from it, but still has features of a computer stereo), then you are going TOTAL DIGITAL. TOTAL DIGITAL TAKES YOUR RIPPED, CLEANED UP, FILE AND PUTS IT BACK IN A BIGGER IPOD -- i.e., the digital source. The analog jacks on the back of the squeeze box was pure brilliance because it allows you to run it once through analog. Because this is all timed in 1.4 seconds, after you "warm up" the music again before it hits the Logitech (or any digital system), the digital system does not have time to "re-compress" and to "re-screw-up" the sound you've created. And then, it is taking that "warm" music and playing it back in perfect digital and thus there is no distortion! It is "fire in a bottle." Logitech has really thought this through -- 24 bits . . . and fast! This is explained in Logitech's materials and it is completely logical -- but as you said your ear is the guide. Your ear can't miss this one. It is a BIG difference.

Now, try this: Try taking that horse dropping that comes out of the "man trapped in the box" (aka "IPOD") and run it through an analog and then to a digital. It is a comedy routine. Run IPOD through an analog. You will blow your speakers if you turn it up too loud. The new Sonos and Wadia equipment is supposed to fix that, BUT IT ONLY MAKES IT WORSE. Respectfully, let me quote from Wadia and how they've solved the problem:

"Turn your IPOD into a high end musical server.
The 170i Transport is the first and only IPOD
component to offer true digital output, high-
resolution component and S Video output and
analog outputs. DIGITAL COAXIAL CABLE INCLUDED.

Read this a few times. I tried this before giving up (a couple weeks ago). When I used the analog jacks, the music sounded like it was being played out of a transistor radio. Why is IPOD trying to achieve "true digital output?" It is already digital. Do they think we all have a disease? And, if they have analog outputs, why do they include a digital COAXIAL cable -- the ultimate digital slavery? BECAUSE YOU SAID IT: THEY CANNOT HAVE THE TRUTH OF THEIR TERRIBLY COMPRESSED FILES COME OUT. SO, THEY ARE NOW SELLING A "SUPER DUPER" DOCKING STATION TO COMPRESS THE FILES ONE MORE TIME FOR GOOD MEASURE.

I'm calling the Saturday Night Live people.

Please let me know if you have a crew willing to do the class action against Apple. First, they stole the Beatles record label and I think Jobs knew all along he was going to go into music. That is not actionable, but it is just a piece of sickness. What IS actionable is that people are downloading to high heavens off of IPOD and they are being completely misled.

As I close, Hotel California has come onto slackers. Instead of a kettle drum sitting in the center of my room, I am now hearing a band playing through a pretty darn good surround sound system and the drums are cogent, warm, wide, clean, and powerful.

Regards,

Mitch.

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-12-05, 11:18
BTW I already ordered the SB3. I know when to follow the leader. Tell you how that one goes. Thanks.

At your convenience, please tell me if I should get the Transporter -- just "because." Will it do anything for me other than look darn good?

80% chance I'm going back on the road and leaving my home. They are now laying odds and they are 6-5. :)

Peace.

Mitchell J. Stein
2008-12-05, 11:24
And realize, once you have ONE duet, you can add additional receivers - either SBR (the receiver half of the duet) and use to Controller (SBC) from the duet to configure it. OR... you can get the Squeezebox Classic (aka SB3), which can be controlled with the original duet's controller or its own IR remote (or universal remote), AND it has display. (I just say this because your "low price" description includes $400 per location for Duet, but the SBR is $150, or a SB Classic is ~$250).
Also, consider cleaning up your library... if you are sold on iTunes, work on ripping stuff to the Apple Lossless format, OR leave the Apple proprietary formats altogether and start transitioning to FLAC.
Who knows, you might be able to get all those other systems to actually sound BETTER than the SBR/Z5500 combo!
Good Luck!

tcutting: thanks. i didn't realize that. so (a) you are saying I can buy the classic squeeze box (that displays) and it will work with the new duet controller? (b) the universal remote will also work like the controller? (c) I am no longer "sold" on ITUNES -- in fact I am happy to be rid of them. but what is Apple Lossless or FLAC? What will FLAC do for me? These things sound interesting and will stir the pot even more. again, thank you for these recommendations. have you ever heard of a wannabee audiophile touting the z5500? what's the world coming to? its the age of the computer!! peace. mitch.