March 2009 Music Servers And The Death Of The CD Player
Part II And let us add the rise of Sonos to the
shall we? Article By Steven R. Rochlin
I knew the flood of
e-mails was going to fill my inbox due to last month's editorial and review of
the Sonos system. How could i say that the CD
player is dead? How could i prefer the Sonos closed system versus Logitech's
open Slim Device? And yes, some people actually do love their VHS player(!). Well my
loyal readers, my answers are as follows:
Because it is.
Yes, you need it to be hooked up to the Internet.
Because i am anal-retentive about Internet security.
i love the Sonos system and so does my wonderful woman. It is easy to use, sounds great and
works. After years of programming, fixing/tweaking computer code and webmastering, have
reached my threshold of mulling around with software. Even my new four band
phone needed some tweaking to work well! At what point is enough truly enough?
When does one 'hit the wall' and just want something easy to use, sounds great
and does not
become a parasite vampire of my time (think The Onion's new foul-mouthed Sony
comedy sketch). Sure the Slim
Devices unit can do this and that and the other thing, yet for me the only main
advantage, which is also a disadvantage, is that it can hook into your Wi-Fi system
instead of needing to be hard-wired in. This was a non-issue for me. Add to
that, since the Sonos system employs its own wireless bandwidth, it means my now
closed non-wireless system is still secure. That is if any system hooked to
the Internet is secure, yet Wi-Fi is easily hacked if you have the right tools.
Add to that, the Sonos system has something so critical for me that the Slim Devices
does not. Specifically, analog input. How many of you can throw a house party
and have your Slim Devices easily feed the turntables (plural) through your
entire home system?
Add to that, the Sonos remote is easy to use... even blindfolded from Day 2! i'll be in bed and want to forward a song or turn the volume down,
etc. From Day 2 i could do that with the Sonos remote. Furthermore, the remote is programmable for the brightness not just of the screen, the button's illumination are also
adjustable. And those little lights on the small boxes, i have them turned off by choice. Am tired of using black electrical tape on my high-end gear to
cover those pesky bright blue, red, green and yellow lights. Of course i could bitch and whine about why the industry does not choose a standard set of illumination colors so that my system at least looks like it matches, yet black electrical tape solves that one. i'd clip the wires to turn them 'off' or re-solder in matching LEDS, yet did i mention my being tired and having little time for such things? Oh yeah, i did within the first paragraph of this article.
You should not buy a $4000 stand alone CD player. Forget it; you are wasting
your money in my opinion. Instead, invest in a good CD/DVD burner and get a NAS
drive plus high-end outboard DAC for the same investment. Since you are reading
this, odds are you have a computer to control it all, or you could buy the Sonos
system and then there is no need for a computer at all (plus no real security
risk to your computer's data). The CD format itself in not dead, in my mind
stand alone CD players are dead. The CD format will be dead when you can
download all the music desired losslessly. Any more questions?
Because It Is
As many audiophiles well know, burning your CDs to a hard drive simply sounds
better than spinning the same CD in a transporter and feeding an external DAC.
Why? Buffers and other things that most CD players do not have. Yes, some CD
players have buffers and we could go on and on about exceptions to the rule, yet
why fight it? Get a burner, a hard drive and an external DAC. If you have not done
so and listened for yourself, then do not send me e-mail until you have done so
and made your own findings. If you are a true audiophile and desire the best
sound, with an added benefit of ease of use, try it. i triple dog dare you (tip
of the hat to the movie A Christmas Story).
Yes, You Need It To Be Hooked Up
To The Internet
Of course you'll need to have your Sonos, Slim Devices or other such devices
hooked up to the Internet to get streaming radio. Ok, my Fuze cell phone could
be hooked to the Sonos' analog input and via the magic of 3G wireless it
could feed my Sonos system for Internet radio. Instead of such complications, by
hardwiring the Sonos to my router it easily feeds Internet radio within my home.
Sonos preloads many popular services plus a staggering array of free radio stations
within their software to be enjoyed. A nod of advantage goes to the Slim Devices
as it can hook into your preexisting wireless network via Wi-Fi (no hardwire
needed, though can be done). Of course going wireless opens up
some disadvantages too.
Because I Am Anal-Retentive About
Allow me to say this again, i am anal-retentive about security.
Even a few of my Internet security friends feel that i take it a bit too far.
That is ok with me, as there is data in a cloud or somewhere that should never
be breached. Rest assured that the huge Enjoy the
Music.com Mailing List that has been accrued over the past decade is as
secure as possible (plus never to be sold, rented etc as promised by Yours
Truly). Since the Logitech Slim Devices hooks into your main home computer to
control it, that is if you do not use a standalone 'throw away' computer device
or NAS that you have programmed to host the Slim software, you have an open
security risk. Because the Sonos system is inherently a standalone system,
there is no need for NAS programming or a 'throw away' computer for high
security purposes. The Sonos system
is the only active wireless Internet device within my home office. Go
ahead and hack it if you insist and enjoy the music. Yes, someone could hack the
wired system, yet at least i know there is one less way to hack into the
systems here. This is not an open invitation to alert hackers, as odds are the
very best can hack 'high security' government websites with the ease of a warm
knife through butter. On the other hand, i bet the government uses non-Internet
closed devices to launch nuclear weaponry. Perhaps a system somewhere in-between
is good enough for me.
So In Conclusion
Of course the choice is ours to buy that $4000 standalone
and possibly upgradeable CD player, the Sonos or Slim Devices... or VHS player
(do they still sell those?). My priorities may be different than yours, and this
is precisely why
we have so many models of cars, computers and streaming audio devices. Having a
choice is a good thing. Of course in the end what really matters is that you...
Enjoy the Music (Jascha Heifetz plays Rondo by Mozart),