Wireless is now, so why not include your music within the realm of this amazing technology? That’s what Slim Devices is out to do with their Squeezebox. Not only can it wirelessly deliver music to anywhere in your home, it’s also finely tuned with the Rhapsody music service for the ability to listen to even more music. It can even handle lossless audio formats!
To use the Squeezebox, the Slim Server (free to download here) must be installed. Surprisingly not included, it must be installed before you can use the product. Once installed, you will need to direct the software to the folder that houses your stash of music. More on this software later.
To install the Squeezebox, there really isnâ€™t anything to do aside from plugging it in to a power source and your audio receiver. Once plugged in, the unit will turn on and wait for you to cycle through the setup using the remote to navigate you though each step. To set it up, you first have to choose how you would like to connect to the host PC.
If you are going the wired route, simply allow DHCP to administer the Squeezebox an IP address and youâ€™re off to the races. If you want to connect wirelessly, and if you paid the extra $50 for the wireless version, why wouldnâ€™t you, the steps arenâ€™t must more difficult. If you can set up a wireless network, installation will be a breeze. The most difficult part, and by difficult I mean annoying, is entering in your WEP key with the remote control. Working the same way that a cellular phone works to text message, the remote is adequate but ultimately slow.
Once connected to the host PC via the Slim Server software, itâ€™s smooth sailing from here.
The Slim Server software is pretty straight forward and to the point and is run through your web browser. Using the web interface, the software is robust, allowing you to change almost everything you can think of.
On the home screen, you are presented with many different options. You can browse through your songs, setup internet radio streams, change settings on your Squeezebox or server as well as reference a long list of help guides. On the right side of the screen, you can see the controls for the Squeezebox itself. Shown is the list of songs in the current playlist, as well as various other controls such as play, stop, shuffle, nextâ€¦ etc.
In the server settings screen, we have the ability to configure many different settings. On this screen, we can direct the server where to look for MP3s at, choose a language if you so choose and enable iTunes to work with the Squeezebox. When using iTunes, you can use your personal playlists instead of making new ones. For those of you with iPodâ€™s, this is a wonderful thing.
Finally, on the player settings, you have the option to control the screen saver, display format and information as well as give your Squeezebox a name.
Here is an example of one of the screen savers available.
To get a good feel of the Squeezebox, I hooked it up to my home stereo and played through a few different genres of songs. I am almost positive that every worthwhile genre was hit and to be honest, the quality of sound was top notch. While I know I am not an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination like our resident audio guy, Tater, I know and respect rich sounding audio.
Setup honestly took 15-20 minutes and the web based interface is a breeze to work through. The range between my PC and the Squeezebox was roughly 20 feet and through 2 walls. The controls were responsive and the time between songs was almost unnoticeable. With the help of a Burr-Brown 24-bit DAC, a very common DAC in many home CD players, the reproduction of sounds was great.
There isnâ€™t much more that I can say about the product. The build is quality, as is the sounds that it streams. The ability to stream audio wirelessly isnâ€™t a new concept but one that is done extremely will with the Squeezebox. The versatility of the product is amazing as well. With the ability to play MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, MP2, MusePack, WMA, AIFF, WAV, PCM as well as lossless Apple Lossless, FLAC, WMA Lossless, the only thing you virtually will not be able to play is Apple protected files. The software is incredibly easy and the overall appearance of the Squeezebox makes it fit it nicely in any home theater setups.
While blasphemous to the audiophiles out there, I am more concerned with functionality than I am true audio reproduction. This isnâ€™t to imply that I do not care about audio quality, but rather, that I care more about how the Squeezebox works. I was happy with the range of the wireless pickup, the quality of the music, the size of the unit, the versatility of the software and of course, the connections.
Having been bought out by Logitech a few months ago, it will be interesting to see if Logitech will continue to allow Slim Devices to research and develop more quality players like the Squeezebox or if it will swallow them whole and use their expertise to better their own products. Regardless of what happens, the Squeezebox is a perfect fit for this editor. I love working with it and I love the added dimension it brings to my living room. The Squeezebox is even something that my family can appreciate and easy enough for them to work it too.
There arenâ€™t many pieces of hardware that deserve a perfect score, and we are rather conservative in handing them out as well, but I feel that the Squeezebox is one of those products that just needs to be used by everyone. Ten minutes with the product and youâ€™ll be a believer too. Sure there are other audio streaming devices out there but not to many meet the design that Slim Devices managed to create as well as come in under $300 (US).
In the end, the only complaint that I had was that the remote wasnâ€™t as nice looking as the rest of the total package. If this is the worst of my concerns, the Squeezebox is sitting pretty. While the price might be a turn off for some, the amount of usability that Slim Devices has been able to cram into their product makes this unit more than worth every single penny. All 30000 of them. The Squeezebox from Slim Devices gets a well deserved 10/10 and this editorâ€™s personal choice award.
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