Musing About Logitech’s Squeezebox, Squeezebox For Android, Pandora & TivoMichael Graves | November 13, 2012
There’s an Android app that provides remote control of these little players. I’ve had it loaded for as long as I’ve had an Android phone. However, it’s never worked for me. At least it didn’t until the past weekend.
Being something of a traditionalist I have historically fed the Squeezebox herd from a small media server or NAS on my network. Only occasionally would I point them to online sources like Radio Paradise, KPFT or KUHF.
This past weekend I started to play with Pandora. The Squeezeboxes can access a Pandora account and thereby stream decent quality music from an online source. Pandora’s paid service provides 192 kbps streams without advertising. That makes the $36/yr paid service seem quite attractive.
Millions of people already use Pandora. I accept that I’m late to that party.
Our various Squeezeboxen are located at different places on my network. A couple live on the Wifi segment while the rest are hard-wired. The Wifi is on a wholly different sub-net largely because it’s provided by a Ubiquiti PowerAP router. On a couple of occasions I’ve tried to configure it as just an AP and not a router. At each attempt I ran into some kind of issue and ended up reverting back to a more basic SOHO router arrangement.
There’s only so much experimenting with the wifi that can be tolerated when ones spouse is dependent upon it for her various gadgets.
As long as the various devices remained on different sub-nets, with the SB’s looking to my media server for consumables, the remote control app could not find the players. To make the players use Pandora I had to point them to Pandora directly. That is, they no longer looked at my local media server. As soon as I did that the Squeezebox for Android app could find all of the players.
The combination of Pandora and Squeezebox for Android was very convenient as I went about striking and storing all of our Halloween accouterments this past weekend. With a little tuning of the service to my personal tastes I can see it reducing my routine spend on CDs.
I especially appreciate how it algorithmically works out what I should like based upon things that I’ve already entered. I guess I’m a bit lazy about always programming a playlist. Pandora was surprisingly good at projecting my taste in music and introducing me to new things.
Part of the attraction of Pandora is that our twin TivoHD devices can also access the account. That gives us two more locations in the house where we can play music without me needing to buy another two Squeezeboxes.
It’s not clear if I can sync various devices to ensure that they play the same track. Part of the appeal of the multi-Squeezebox setup is the ability to selectively sync the players..or not as required at any moment. There was an idea, as yet unrealized, that we could have a haunted house party and use the various players to provide different auditory experiences as people wandered from room-to-room. More typically we play one long spooky playlist to the outdoors and something more sedate to guests inside.
It truly is a pity that Logitech discontinued most of the Squeezebox line. Reorganized as part of the Ultimate Ears brand, only the Internet Radio remains , which essentially abandons the core concept of the Squeezebox. Still, the Squeezebox started out as a hardware player supported by an open source music server. The server software remains open source. Perhaps the user community can pick up and go where they like with it?
We currently have a little Acer AspireRevo running Win7 Home Premium and SqueezeCenter to feed the Squeezeboxen. I upgraded that box to include a 750 GB hard drive, which is more than enough for our music library, even in FLAC format.
Vortex Box is an open source project that aims to replace Logitech’s SqueezeCenter software. I intend to give it a try some time very soon. It will automatically RIP audio CDs in a very consistent manner, including adding level matching tags. I recently RIP’d every CD in our collection anew just so that I could ensure consistent volume from track to track and artist to artist.
Vortex Box seems like a good way to repurpose some older desktop hardware that we have recently retired from more mainstream use. While an old HP 5750 desktop would draw more power than the Acer net-top, it has the optical drive to support the auto RIP’ing feature and would allow us to provide RAID1 storage for the FLAC library.
It’s been many years since we bought our first Squeezebox. They have proven to be some of our favorite bits of household technology. Even so, the underpinnings of their use keep changing. Though they may now be orphaned I don’t see us abandoning the Squeezebox any time soon, but we’ll continue to evolve how we store and stream media.