Monday, May 09, 2011

Squeezebox Review

As promised - my Logitech Squeezebox review:

My annual tax return present to myself this year turned out to be a wireless digital music system.  I've been longing for the ease of flipping a switch and playing music for some time.  Like most geeks my music has moved over the last few years to be a combination of ripped CDs / downloads (mostly Amazon MP3 in my case) and online services like Pandora, Slacker and LastFM and a few streaming stations - like my local public radio station.

If I'm not at a running computer or connected to my Droid this is a hassle.  When I'm home I just want to flop down with a rusty nail and good book in my favorite chair an not fiddle with a pc (or even be in the same room with one).

I looked at both the Squeezebox and the Sonos. I had several basic requirements.  First I tend to listen to Slacker the most so any system would need to support that.  Second my collection of music lives on my Netgear ReadyNAS.  Third but less important - Android support.

Well - the Squeezebox is 3 for 3.  Sonos does not support Slacker (at this time).  Logitech actually has specific server software for the ReadyNAS as well as Mac, PC and generic Linux.  Sonos would be able to get to my music via SMB shares but that's not nearly as efficient.  

I also did not like that Sonos requires you to purchase both the "Zone Player" and a proprietary router.  Both offer the ability to play different music on each player or sync them to have the whole house experience.

I purchased the Squeezebox Boom model.  Yes it's been discontinued but I liked the idea of being able to plunk it on the kitchen counter or in the garage (Get one soon if you can).

The system came in beautiful "apple-esque" packaging, including a really cool cloth bag.  Setup took just a few minutes.  I plugged the Boom in and turned it on.  It found my wireless net and prompted me for my WPA key.  This was actually fairly easy to enter on the boom with it's large jog dial.  Not sure what it's like on the other players.  After that I immediately connected to and had music playing about 5 min after opening the box.  I then visited the website directly and did some customization.  After that I was listening to MY Slacker and Pandora stations.

I then attempted to connect to my Squeezeserver running on my ReadyNAS.  The Boom reported that it was "updating firmware" and then was totally useless.  I went back to and continued to listen whilst I scratched my head. 

After a fashion I logged into my ReadyNAS and selected the squeezeserver.  I immediately "facepalmed" when I realized the problem was that I had not configured the server software.  You need to do a couple of little things like tell it where your music is stored.  Once that is done you allow it some time to scan your collection. 

The next day I again pointed the boom at my server and voila!  All of my music plus Slacker, Pandora and anything else my heart desired.  I even did a quick search for my local NPR station.  About 2 seconds later it's a preset assigned to a button on the front panel of the boom.

Next I installed the Logitech Android software and found I could control pretty much everything from my phone.  The day after that I installed "Squeeze Commander" from the Android market and was even more amazed.  Can't recommend this app enough!

I was a little irritated at first that I was limited to the speakers in the Boom.  Until I looked at the settings available in the android app and discovered that you can configure the "subwoofer" jack.  It defaults to sub output but can be configured for headphones or "line out" as well.  The boom is now connected to a nice set of Logitech speakers and sounds terrific.  

The Squeezebox has exceeded all expectations for me.  It's beautiful, simple, powerful and sounds awesome!  I will be purchasing at least another Touch model and probably a Radio or two in the near future.

The Squeezebox gets my highest recommendation.   I LOVE this thing!

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