Meridian recently loaned me a Sooloos Control 15 player, and because it’s what I do, I did some controlled A/B tests that pitted it against a $299 Logitech Squeezebox Touch player.
To make it a slightly leveler playing field I also used a Meridian 518 to adjust the Touch’s digital signal. The 518 gave me the option to expand the Touch’s native 16-bit digital signal to 24 bits, change the dithering scheme, and adjust its overall gain in the digital domain. But since the 518 only handles up to 48k files, I route the Touch’s second digital output directly to a Meridian 568.2 for 88/24 and 96/24 material.
The rest of the signal chain for this still rather fiscally unfair comparison consisted of a Meridian 568.2 pre/pro hooked up to a Pass X-150 3-channel amplifier driving Dunlavy SC VI L&R and a Dunlavy IVa center channel. Source material came from my own CD collection, but the Sooloos made and used its own rip of each CD while the Touch used the rip performed by iTunes that resides in my iTunes library on my main computer.
The verdict? The Meridian/Sooloos Control 15 sounds better than a Logitech Touch. Wow. Stop the presses…wait; there are no presses.
Initially the differences between the Meridian Sooloos Control 15 and the Logitech Touch were anything but subtle – the Meridian was far more present, vibrant, dimensional, and extended at both frequency extremes. But once the Touch’s volume level was increased +1 dB these differences became far less pronounced. Still, at the end of the day, the Meridian/Sooloos had a dimensional solidity and harmonic clarity that the Touch lacked. Something about the Sooloos sound commanded my attention and focused me on the subtleties of the music more completely than the Logitech Touch. Don’t get me wrong, the Touch can be involving and gets way past the grayish sound of a mid-fi background music lifestyle product, but even through the Meridian 568.2’s D/A’s the Sooloos Control 15’s delivered superior sound.
Of course the Sooloos playback system is about far more than merely sonics. The Sooloos is an ergonomic wonder that makes it fun to explore any digital music collection, especially a large collection. But the question of cost and value always comes up because it is not an inexpensive device. After all, the Logitech Touch and Sooloos Control 15 do basically the same thing and one costs $300 while the other is just under $8000. How can the Control 15 ever be as good a value as the Touch? In pure monetary terms it can’t. But there are certain intangibles such as the quality of the experience and level of customer support that can counterbalance the Touch’s much lower price-point.
I seriously doubt the same person contemplating buying a Sooloos Control 15 would consider a Logitech Touch. Although they perform similar functions, they do it in such different ways that they really are different types of products. Which would I prefer to own? The Meridian Sooloos Control 15 – it’s beautiful, elegant, and sounds glorious. Which do I own? The Logitech Squeezebox Touch because it uses my existing music library, sounds nearly as good as a Control 15, and even I can comfortably afford it.