Musing About Logitech’s Squeezebox, Squeezebox For Android, Pandora & Tivo

Squeezebox-TivoHD-SB-For-AndroidAround the house and office we use Logitech’s recently defunct Squeezebox music players. We have several of these, a mix of the Squeezebox 3 and Squeezebox Touch models.

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.

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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.

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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?

Acer-Aspire-Revo-250We 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.

  • Yes, you are late to the party. We have discussed Squeezebox many times, but I didn’t know you were missing out on Pandora. 

    I am sorry to learn that Logitech has discontinued the Squeezebox Duet. It is a great product, and I see they are still available at Amazon. I have music wired throughout the home, so use a Duet with multiple remotes. One Duet receiver connects to the sound system (Internet to RCA) – and the remotes not only offer control but display song information. We have remotes upstairs and downstairs and of course use our phones too. 

    I recently added XM radio to the Squeezebox. It’s a nice option. It isn’t as cheap as Pandora, but offers different types of programming. For example, there is no way in Pandora to create a Grateful Dead station like which exists on XM. 

    I have my Squeezebox server running on a Netgear ReadyNAS. It works well, but I am not particularly impressed with Netgear. I was going to replace it and searched for NAS systems that can run Squeezebox and found several. The NAS also stores video content that we access on the Boxee Box, but that’s another post. 

    • mjgraves

      Yes, I realize that the music source was not an areas where I explored newer options. I think that’s typical of someone who has a reasonable in-house library.

      I usually listened to what I had on my server. When I was feeling adventurous I’d listen to an online station like Radio Paradise. 

      I found the ReadyNAS to be a bit pricey. I used a recycled HP Thin Client as my first music server. It ran FreeNAS.

      Later on I used the little Acer box. It was a gift so I felt compelled to find a use for the little box.

      If I eventually use an old desktop as the next music server it will have enough CPU to run the Inguz Audio room correction plug-ins.

  • Fred

    I got my first squeezebox back in 2006 or 2007. Loved it. It was the only reason I kept a windows server on my network 😉

    Although I’ve played with pandora now and then, I am just not into it. I’d rather not have total dependency on cloud services. There’s a lot to be said about a local library, making it great for when Internet is not available, not reliable, or not wanted.

    I love having a local library.

  • Jon

     If you’re just getting to Pandora,you might also check out Spotify.  Between the Raspberry Pi and Spotify/Pandora, we may be entering the golden age of legal streaming.

  • Shamus

    Always a follower of your blog. Like you, I bought into the Squeezebox line before Logitech bought (and destroyed) the lineup. Given the current discontinuation, I decided to build my own player: used a Raspberry Pi ($35), and USB amplifier (http://www.amazon.com/Topping-TP30-Digital-Amplifier-USB-DAC/dp/B005D7SKWK $100). Then by installing Squeezeslave I was able to create an additional (powered!) zone in my house.

    If you’re looking for specific instructions, happy to share.

    • mjgraves

      Thanks! But I’ll stick with my SB3 and SBT for now. Each is paired with set of powered monitors, making them a complete package. Each set cost less than and yet performs better than the commercial equivalent.