Being Inquisitive

The best way to get answers is to ask questions.

Logitech Squeezebox Duet – First Impressions

The Concept

The Squeezebox receiver is a unflashy small device which gets some basic commands to stream audio from URLs, volume up/down etc. The value here comes from the audio decoder quality. It’s connected through LAN or WiFi.

The Squeezebox controller purpose is to act as a comfortable remote control. Technically it’s a device mainly running a customized browser. It’s connected through WiFi. To get the receiver running, you would not really need this device – you could control it with every ordinary web browser running on your desktop, netbook, mobile etc. But using the Squeezebox controller is definitely more comfortable.

The Squeezecenter is a required software component to run the Squeezebox hardware. You can use Internet radio, podcasts and the like without running your own Squeezecenter. Squeeznetwork is a customized public Squeezecenter instance. Furthermore it is used to bootstrap the process of bringing all mentioned components together. You have to have an account at Squeezenetwork and every player (software or hardware) has to be registered there.

Try It Yourself

Software player? Yes, you can test the whole setup of Squeezecenter, Squeezebox controller and player without any hardware required (Good before you buy!). The following steps are necessary:

  1. Create an account at Squeezenetwork.
  2. Download the Squeezecenter Audio Server.
  3. Start the Softsqueeze player which comes with Squeezecenter as Java Webstart application
  4. Register the player with Squeezenetwork.
  5. Connect server and player.
  6. Enjoy!

The Softsqueeze application does only mimic Squeezebox Classic and Transporter. To test Squeezebox Duet, use Squeezeplay which runs exactly the same user interface as the hardware controller. For me it worked on Windows only, I couldn’t get it to run on my Ubuntu box. Use the same registration procedure as described above.

Energy Efficiency Considerations

Keep in mind that the Squeezebox Duet setup includes 2 devices communicating over WiFi (the receiver optionally through LAN). Furthermore, to access your stored music library, you need to run a Squeezecenter instance somewhere. You can’t attach a passive USB disk to the receiver box. All in all a lot of additional energy consumption.

Although the Squeezebox receiver can be ‘switched off’ from the controller, it still keeps the WiFi (and the rest?) active to be able to get the command to ‘switch on’. I doubt it just switches of the front LED… A side effect of this is that my WiFi router, which is programmed to switch off WiFi at night, keeps it on because there is still a connected device – the Squeezebox receiver. I will install a Master Slave Adaptor and switch off the receiver with my amplifier in future.

The Squeezebox controller can be switched off and on with the Home button. The boot process takes 15..20 seconds which is acceptable. After some time not being used it switches to standby mode, disconnecting WiFi and switching off the display. The wakeup from standby takes 3..5 seconds. The worst thing is that it doesn’t disconnect from WiFi when in the loader, so I have to switch it off then.

Midterm the Squeezecenter will run on a NAS and not on my desktop PC. The NAS consumes a lot less energy than a common PC hardware. It’s also timed to switch off at night.

Pros

The Squeezebox concept is very flexible and open. Services like radio, Internet radio, podcasts, your music library etc. are melting together to a common music service. It’s the perfect gadget for a geek like me, not necessarily for the pure Audio enthusiast.

Cons

The Duet Controller reproducibly gets problems as soon as a second Squeezecenter server is added to the network (i.e. Desktop PC boot with Squeezecenter running) while the controller runs. After some strange effects (depends on what you’re actually doing) it mostly hangs. A reboot of the controller fixes it. This topic isn’t too big for me as I will setup Squeezecenter on my NAS sooner or later.

I tried the player sync option with the Squeezebox receiver and Softsqueeze. Although the sync basically worked, I had a 3..5 seconds time shift between both players – nice sound effects in my flat. Even after pausing and resuming the players the time shift was still there.

I had multiple cases in the last few days where the controller couldn’t connect to Squeezenetwork and/or to the player. I hope that this will get better if I run my own Squeezecenter on the NAS.

Conclusion

Nice gadget for a good price! A lot of plugins are available to extend the functionality (I will describe that in another post).

Filed under: gadgets, reviews

2 Responses

  1. Rob Webb says:

    An interesting post – thanks. I note that you are suggesting you will install Squeezecenter on your NAS. Another forum I have viewed concluded that Squeezecenter would not run on NAS, and therefore a PC was always required to be running for the system to work. Have you managed to install on NAS, and if so, how well does it work?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Microblog

%d bloggers like this: