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During the review period, I also received a Bryston BDA-1 DAC to review and moved the Touch into my main room. I connected the Touch via both optical and coaxial DH Labs digital cables, also in for review, to the Bryston to compare. Both connection types were so close, but in the end I decided on Coax. With the Touch set up in my main room, the Touch functioned as a high end digital streamer and file player, exactly what I suspected from listening in my smaller system, but now had confirmed. I will have a lot more to say about the Bryston in the future, but let me say that it was superb match with the Touch.
I streamed more live music and FLAC rips with even more of the same result. Huge soundstaging, superb imaging, and real presence. When i called up a U2 soundboard from Salt Lake City, 2001, it was colossal. CD rips sounded fantastic. Specifically for this review I ripped around 60 GB of Redbook CDs and converted to FLAC. All tracks played back flawlessly in both systems.
The final piece of the puzzle is testing the Touch with higher resolution music. As noted, it does 24 bit and 96 Khz material. I called up some sample FLAC tracks I had downloaded from various web sites, my 96/24 recordings, and two of my first purchases from HDTracks.com, the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss collaboration, Raising Sand, and Alison Krauss & Union Station’ new Paper Airplanes. It is safe to say I was pretty amazed at what I heard. The HDTracks FLACs were superior to their CD counterparts in subtle ways. But buyer beware, choose your high resolution material carefully when shopping, not all of it is created equally. There is a mine field of upsampled material of questionable lineage. But the reputable online shops should be safe bets.
But authentic 24 bit 96 Khz material sounds incredible. Once you hear it through the Touch on a resolving system, it can be addicting. But be ready to invest in higher capacity hard drives, as higher bit rates and bit depths will eat up storage space a lot faster than CD quality files. Lovers of classical music will be in heaven with the Touch, there is an abundance of HiRez material available.
One more feature I will discuss is the ability to synchronize players. You can use one Touch to control multiple players around the house. You can also access a USB device or SD card attached to one Touch, from another simply by going to the Settings menu and selecting “Synchronize Players”, and selecting the host uni. Remarkable. I tried it and was very pleased. What this means is that one can use a single hard drive or SD card to feed multiple Squeezeboxes. Initially I thought I might have to create duplicate drives for each unit.