on 29 August 2007
I ordered the squeezebox with some trepidation. I have previously owned the Philips Streamium (clunky software, and not fully Vista-compatible) and the Logitech Wireless DJ (looks great but really isn't a finished product) and neither really lived up to expectations. Squeezebox, however, is different.
As other reviewers have noted, the Squeezebox (it's now a logitech product and will come with a Logitech logo on it - rather than the SlimDevices logo shown in the pictures on this page) has the 'finished product' feel that the others lack.
Setup was really straightforward. First you download SlimServer from the web (which is fully Vista compatible) and it searches your hard drive for any music files. It indexes them in the same way as I-tunes automatically. The interface is web-driven and worked fine for me in IE7, Firefox 2 and Opera 9. Next you connect Squeezebox to your router (use an ethernet cable) and key in your wireless network settings. Squeezebox accepts WEP, WPA and WPA-2, which is much better than the Roku Soundbridge (for example). You use your remote control to enter the WPA key and you're away.
In use, Squeezebox is fast and straightforward. There are basically two separate programs in the firmware. One is the SlimServer, which you can use to play your music collection (it supports nearly all file formats), or to browse internet radio. You'll benefit from a Live365 passowrd (which you get from [...] and is free), which you key in to the web at [...] The web links to your own Squeezebox through a PIN. Live365 gives you access to 1000's of web radio programs (though to avoid adverts, you would need to buy a live365 subscription at around $50US). The second is the SqueezeNetwork, which lets you access the internet radio (Live 365, Pandora etc) and RSS newsfeeds with your PC switched off. Pandora is only available in the US, though....
Sound quality is excellent, and the display size can be varied to suit the short-sighted, or with some basic (but fun) visualisations. I've had no buffering problems or drop-outs at all on a standard home broadband connection.
Connections to your amp can be by RCA phono plug (the usual red-and-white cable) or by optical or coaxial audio cable.
All-in-all I'm very - VERY - pleased. If you're in the market for a streaming, audio-only device to connect to your HiFi, this is the one!
on 2 April 2008
If your music collection already sits on a home file server (or PC) connected to a wireless network this really is a no-brainer. In this much at least it can be said to be a bit of a geek's toy. But to answer the previous poster, you would buy one of these precisely because it is not a computer. It's a piece of audio equipment, with sound quality comparable to that of a decent CD player. (It decodes the music file natively, your PC's sound card isn't involved in the transaction at all). Then there's the interface: a high quality display and intuitive remote control driven menu system meaning you can get to any of the tracks in your collection in seconds.
The server side of things is reasonably easy to set up. You download and install SqueezeCenter (formerly SlimServer), which acts a bit like Windows Media Player. You access the GUI through a web browser, initially pointing it at your nominated music folder to create a music library. It automatically recognises any Squeezeboxes on your network (added easily using the remote control) and you then manage the Squeezebox from the web interface. The web interface can also be used as a second remote control if you feel the need to frighten the kids when you're sat at your computer in another room.
A couple of tips here:
1. If you're thinking of buying, why not download and install SqueezeCenter first to see if you get the general idea.
2. I had to give my Squeezebox a name in the settings and then re-scan my library before it would work properly. (Previously the SqueezeCenter web interface was very slow).
Also one criticism: The library isn't quite as configurable or user-friendly as Windows Media Player. There's probably a back end database within which you can tweak artist names and ignore files but I've not got there yet (remember, it's ever evolving). You're not limited to browsing by Artist/Genre/Song though, the Squeezebox allows you to browse through the folder structure. Anyway, it's open source, so download it and have a play. There's also plenty of online support.
Just about everything on the Squeezebox is configurable, from the scroll speed of the menus, to what's displayed, the screen saver (date and time/ RSS news tickers when your computer is off). I've managed to add XML feeds of my favourite podcasts. It has a built-in alarm, favourites menus, statistics and lots of cool features that you'll want to mess about with.
The remote control to the 'Box' itself is smooth and shiny. It has its own volume control (there are no inbuilt speakers in the Squeezebox, but as I've lost the remote for my amp this was very handy). Buttons for all the useful things (browse, now playing, add to playlist etc.) No mute button though? The actual Squeezebox unit has a pretty good build quality and solid feel to it and a green LCD display which spans the width of the Box (you can adjust the brightness, along with everything else). It sits nicely on the top of a floor standing speaker.
Enough already. I have one. I like it.
Now, I'm a massive gadget fan, as my bank and credit card balances will testify. I'm also a massive music lover, so as you can imagine this product, before I ordered it, had the capacity to tick all of my proverbial boxes!
Thankfully, upon it's arrival and installation, I realised it's far better than I ever thought it would be.
Firstly, the server software for this device must be downloaded from the internet (the Slimdevices website), for free obviously.
Before I splashed out and made my purchase I downloaded and installed it to see how it'd run on my PC and how easy it was to use etc. I think that's probably a decent bit of advice for anyone interested in buying one too.
Basically you install the software onto the PC/Mac/NAS (you don't even need a PC to be on if you use a compatible NAS - check the Slimdevices website for a list of compatible NAS equipment) on which your music is stored and let it scan your music folder(s) for your tunes which it then makes available via Artist / Album / Genre / Year selection menus!
For this scanning it relies heavily on your file ID tags (artist, track number, album etc) being correct etc although I believe this is not an absolute must. If your music is well tagged and organised however, it makes the whole process, and the interface with the device itself, much, much easier to set up and use.
Connected to my Aego M 2.1 speaker set up I can assure you the Squeezebox is absolutely stunning in terms of it's sound and performance. It has a high quality Woolfson bit of gadgetry inside that ensures the sound quality is absolutely perfect with well-ripped, decent bitrate music - I'd suggest for MP3 192k as a minimum to ensure decent quality.
The remote control works intuitively and, as the device is entirely menu driven using the up, down, left and right keys on the remote (or via the web interface if you prefer) it's child's play to use.
There are plenty of plugins available for the device too, all easy to install. For example listening to BBC live and listen again streams is a simple task with the AlienBBC plugin. I have a screensaver plugin installed which enables me to keep abreast of live football scores as and when the goals go in. Genius!
The internet radio feature is excellent too. The world is basically your oyster when it comes to which radio stations broadcasting on the net you want to listen to. If the station you want isn't in the myriad of listening options already configured on the player, you can add it yourself with a couple of clicks of the mouse. Excellent!
The device works well both wired and wirelessly in terms of it's connection to the internet and/or your PC/music server. Wireless performance is good, with no drop outs to report. It can be connected to powered speakers (I can recommend the Aego M 2.1's I use, unreservedly) or a full hi-fi / amp set up. Basically it can be connected to anything with the standard RCA inputs!
I don't have a single gripe or negative about this device apart from maybe it's price which I suspect is off-putting for a lot of people, understandably.
But I assure you, when all is said and done, it's a quality device, with quality support and third party plugins and it definitely produces a quality sound which is well worth every penny.
on 28 July 2009
I got this unit after reading the other reviews here, to organise my collection of classical music which had got totally out of control. With dozens of recordings of some works, finding anything was a nightmare. And that side of it turned out a total success from the get-go. Installation & setup is very easy, and with the music library organised into a tree of folders, I can scroll through as much or as little of it as I want from the remote - no more hunting through stacks of CDs.
I wasn't so sure about the sound quality at first. I'm using Exact Audio Copy to rip CDs to FLAC lossless, which should be as good as you can get - but with the analogue outputs plugged into my (valve) hifi amp, it seemed a bit harsh in the upper midrange, light in the bass, and overall somewhat uneven. (This was all on classical stuff - other music may perform differently.) Anyway, I tried taking the digital output into several different DACs - and what a transformation! All of them were a noticeable improvement. The best sound I've got so far is with the SPDIF coax output into a Midiman "Flying Cow" 24/96 DAC. I'm sure there are others which would perform better, this just works the best out of the ones I have.
The crucial point, though, is the sound I get through this setup is *better* than from the expensive transport+DAC that I use for playing CDs. I did a series of 3-way A/B/C tests, with (A) the CD playing equipment, (B) the Squeezebox+DAC, and (C) the Squeeezebox alone, plugged into 3 adjacent inputs on the preamp, and played the same recording on CD and Squeezebox, switching between the inputs to compare sound quality. Arrangement (B) came out tops every time.
Am I happy? You bet.
This is way better than I was expecting, and means I won't now be upgrading to an even more expensive CD player - so even with the 1TB NAS drive to store the 3000+ CDs, it's actually saved me money! At the price it's a no-brainer.
on 4 December 2008
I originally bought 2 Squeezeboxes, about 2 years ago, and I liked them so much that I now have 3. Plus I've just ordered a Squeezebox Boom.
There is only one down side, but it's quite a big one. To get the best out of your Squeezebox, you need to be running a music server application called SqueezeCenter. SqueezeCenter is designed to run on a PC or Mac, but if you are like me, you wont want to have to run your computer running every time you want to listen to your music collection.
It is possible to connect your Squeezebox to a service on the internet called The Squeeze Network, and to be honest I have never tried this. Apparently though it does allow you to access internet radio and to upload mp3 files to play on your Squeezebox.
I opted to run SqueezeCenter on a NAS device called a Qnap, which is designed to be able to run 24/7. It does an adequate job, but is not ideal. It can require some computing knowledge if you encounter problems. There is a good internet forum where you can often get help if you get stuck.
There are also other NAS devices capable of running SqueezeCenter, many require a bit of hacking, but there is a lot of information about this on the forum.
I think Logitec have missed a trick here. If they were to design a server to run SqueezeCenter then they would be onto a real winner, but they don't seem to want to do this.
Anyway. That is the one drawback out of the way.
The build quality of the Squeezebox is excellent. It's a very solid device, and I have never had any hardware problems with any of 3 Squeezeboxes. Sound quality is also very good, due to a good quality DAC. It is reckoned to be about equal to a midrange CD player.
Functionality when connected to SqueezeCenter is also very good. I especially like being able to review and amend my playlist while listening to it. You can also add various plugins but again that may depend upon your computing abilities.
Over all I love my Squeezeboxes, although they are perhaps not ideal for people who are not reasonably computer literate.
on 13 February 2007
This device is quite simply astonishing. Not only can it play all my CDs at lossless quality without me having to move from the sofa, but I can access Internet Radio and listen to pretty much any music I want to streamed from pandora.com. I can control the device fully from the remote or browse albums (and covers) from a PC. Creating Playlists is easy and I can even listen to sounds like `Heavy Rain and Thunder' and `Lapping Waves' - which is a strange but effective touch.
The sound quality is better (clearer) than my Cambridge Audio DVD57 player and being able to play random tracks from my entire collection - or even just certain genres/albums/artists - is terrific. I've rediscovered so much music that I haven't listened to for years.
The makers seem to have thought of everything. The way the display scrolls and glides is very fluid and navigation is easy. Often I've wondered 'I wonder if they've thought of such-a-thing' and they usually have. The support is fantastic and the forums are full of helpful users. There are plug-ins created that expand its uses even further.
It is compact, beautifully built and is one of the most impressive audio items I've ever seen. Its looks, technological prowess and audio quality is exceeded only by its sheer usability.
on 7 September 2007
Well, I agree with the majority of reviewers who report how good this is, and wonder if the solitary disappointed reviewer has got a bad example - the alternative explanation is too terrible to contemplate! I also am a hi fi buff, with several £000s of Linn etc high end separates in my regular sound system - and am VERY HAPPY with what the Squeezebox does. One thing I did notice is that the Squeezebox does not sound at all good played through my Linn amps (very muffled sound), so maybe there are incompatibilities with some specific systems?
My main use is for streaming Internet radio through my secondary hi fi system (a very nice little Denon micro setup), the installation worked fine, and the music quality is excellent. Try radioparadise.com for a superb eclectic mix of music from the 60s to the present, without adverts.
EVERYONE who has listened to this in my home has been impressed, and many are now considering buying one themselves .............
on 14 September 2008
I'll start by saying I think these things really are very good.
When I got my first Squeezebox 3 I was slightly underwhelmed by the music quality. It was good, but it lacked a bit of sparkle when compared to the original CD (and that was with flac files). There was a lot of discussion on various Squeezebox forums about upgrading the power supply, so I gave that a try. All sorts of exotic and expensive solutions were recommended, but they didn't have any of that stuff down at Maplins. So I ended up buying a "Variable Voltage Switched Mode AC/CD Mains Adapter" for about £30.
Boy, did that make a difference. Now I can't tell the difference between the Squeezebox & CDs when I switch my amp between the 2 different sources.
Now I generally think that the hi-fi "business" of spending silly money on 6" lengths of wire is a bit "emperors new clothes", unless you have the hearing ability of a bat (or cat). So if I can hear a difference, there really is one. I guess it's because the new power supply can deliver 5 amps as opposed to the 2 amps of the original equipment.
I'll add a proviso here - it's a year or 2 since I bought me Squeezeboxes and they may have improved the power supply since then. Check its amperage rating I guess.
Apart from that, I endorse all the 5 star ratings here. It's great. It will make you realise how bad the tagging is on all your music files though. Get ready for a few evenings trying to get them all sorted!
on 2 October 2007
I have been searching for an audio streaming solution for some time and all the reviews of other options were very mixed, especially on multi function equipment which just seems to try to do too much. The Squeezbox works and works very well indeed. I set mine up in ten minutes, after reading the manual first (breaking the habit of a lifetime), no problems so far, sound quality is excellent considering where its coming from and I gave up Audiophile status in the 1980's. I am happy with what I hear, no dropouts, wireless is very reliable and the server software for the resource PC is very simple and effective. I was a bit concerned about being able to see the screen from across the room, but the display is superb and is easily visable at its largest setting from 10-12 feetaway. buy one today!!
on 18 March 2008
This is quite simply the best gadget I have ever bought. Setup is a breeze, the menu is very intuitive and responsive making finding your music effortless. Using the AlienBBC plugin you can listen to all the BBC listen again services, which is an excellent feature. The sound quality is flawless. Do make sure you re-rip all your CDs to a lossless format such as FLAC though, as the squeezebox contains a very high quality DAC (digital to analogue convertor) which will show up the the lossy quality of MP3s.
If you are considering buying one of these, just do it. it will revolutionise the way you listen to your music collection.