Ever since I started building my iTunes music library, I’ve been toying with the idea of buying some sort of network audio streamer to allow my wife and me to play songs from our library during parties. There is a large number of these devices on the market now. One of the most heavily advertised is the Roku Soundbridge M1000 from Roku Labs. This is a stylish device that looks good in your high-end audio component stack.
It has a 280 x 16 element blue flourescent display that is visible from some distance away. The display shows the title and album information for each track, sound frequency levels, and timing-related information. The Soundbridge M1000 and its siblings include a remote control that lets you navigate your library using Roku’s Fast Browse interface.
Roku claims that the Soundbridge is the “Most Compatible Player” because it supports Apple’s Rendezvous and iTunes as well as Microsoft Windows Media Connect and Windows Media Player 10. It is not, however, entirely compatible with iTunes, because it will not play secure AAC files purchased from the iTunes Music Store. This doesn’t affect me that much right now, but it is an impediment to total ITMS enjoyment if you buy and install a Soundbridge.
I like the Roku Soundbridge M1000, but I wish more of the reviews I read of it pointed out that iTunes Music Store music doesn’t play on it at the moment. That’s really important information. If you definitely need iTunes Music Store play-through capability, you have to look at the Apple Airport Express.