Here at Liquidstate, we have a growing family of Logitech Squeezebox devices. For those that don't know, Squeezebox is a range of network music players originally from Slim Devices, who were aquired by Logitech. Much like their more expensive and arguably more popular Sonos counterparts, the Squeezebox devices can play Internet radio, digital audio streamed across your home network, and will stream a variety of music services such as Pandora, Napster, Last.fm, Spotify, etc. The end user experience is a little less polished, but at almost half the price and the benefit of backing from an open source community, I don't mind putting in a little bit of my own time!
Squeezebox Server (formerly SlimServer and SqueezeCenter) is the streaming audio server software developed to stream music over your home network, allowing you to play your music collection to both software and hardware receivers (namely, the Squeezebox range). It's written in Perl and will run on Linux, Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, and BSD platforms. It supports a large number of audio formats including MP3, FLAC, WAV, Ogg, and AAC, as well as transcoding. Best of all, Squeezebox Server is open source and plugins from Logitech and the community allow additional functionality to be added, such as the live radio and 'listen-again' features of BBC iPlayer.
Here at Liquidstate, we have Squeezebox Server running on a CentOS Linux server (virtualised, of course!). Logitech very gratiously provide a yum repository making installation on any RedHat-based system remarkably easy:
# Install the yum repository rpm -Uvh http://repos.slimdevices.com/yum/squeezecenter/squeezecenter-repo-1-6.noarch.rpm # Install Squeezebox Server (and any dependencies via yum) yum install squeezeboxserver
Now, just go to http://YOUR_SERVER:9000 and you can scan your music libary as well as configure and control any squeezebox devices on your network - all through a nice web interface. Easy huh?
Our Squeezebox journey started with looking for an iPod/iPhone dock to use in our kitchen. However, we wanted the device out of the way, which would most probably mean a stereo with third party iPhone dock attached through line-in. Of course, we also wanted the dock to charge whatever was plugged into it and not before long, it all seemed a bit complicated.
Enter the Squeezebox Boom, a self-contained device with an LCD display, front panel controls, 30W integrated amplifier, bi-amped stereo two-way speakers, 3.5mm line in, 3.5mm line out for a subwoofer as well as both wired and wireless network adapters. It's very easy to set up and you'll be up and running in no time. The sound quality is pretty good - probably not as good as the Bose iPod dock we have, but definitely good enough. Technical details about the "careful and innovative acoustic design" can be found in this white paper.
So now, we can listen to Internet radio, play music from our NAS device, or stream music from Last.FM or Spotify (requires a premium account). The Boom comes with its own (basic) remote control, but we can also exercise full control using an iPhone app. Nice!
The Squeezebox Receiver is designed to be used in conjunction with your stereo. It has Digital optical, coax and analog connectors with a 24-bit Wolfson DAC. Just like the Squeezebox Boom, it can play a variety of music formats ans has built-in 802.11b/g wireless network adapter and a 10/100Mbps Ethernet port.
Setting up the Squeezebox Receiver is a little more fiddly due to the lack of controls and requires the use of the Squeezebox Controller, which comes with the Receiver as part of the Squeezebox Duet package. I found the supplied User Guide to be absolutely terrible, so below is some information you might find useful if you run into any problems.
The Squeezebox Receiver has one button with a TricolorLED behind it.
- To put Squeezebox Receiver into setup mode, press and hold the button for about 3 seconds or until it blinks slow red then release it.
- To do a factory reset on Squeezebox Receiver, continue holding for a total of 6 seconds until it starts blinking fast red. Release and after factory reset, it will start flashing slower and be ready to set up.
- If you press and hold the button while plugging in the Receiver, you'll see the button sequence through a series of colors and a set of ascending test tones will be played through the audio outputs.
- When connected to Squeezebox Server, the button is white, and you can press it to pause the music. Press again to start the music up again.
- a solid red light means the device is booting up.
- a slow blinking red light means the device is awaiting to be setup (see below regarding fast blinking).
- a yellow light means the device is waiting for wireless to connect (and the ethernet link is down).
- a green light means the network is connected and the device is waiting for an IP address to be assigned via DHCP (this step is skipped if using static IP).
- a blue light means the device is waiting to connect to Squeezebox Server or mysqueezebox.com.
- a solid white light means the device has successfully connected to Squeezebox Server or mysqueezebox.com and is ready for use.
- a fast blinking white light means that a firmware update is in progress.
- a fast blinking red light means that a Factory Reset and xilinx update is in progress.
- a purple light is bad news and means the device has an error - it will blink a number of times, followed by a one second pause between.
- 1 purple blink indicates that the MAC address is missing or bad (checked second upon boot-up).
- 2 purple blinks indicates that the wireless card is missing or bad (checked first upon boot-up).
- 3 purple blinks indicates an SNV failure or error.
- 4 purple blinks indicates an upgrade error.
- 5 purple blinks indicates an CPLD XSVF file open error (xilinx file).
- 6 purple blinks indicates that the UID is not set or all zeros (checked third upon boot-up).
Control using the Squeezebox Controller
The Squeezebox Controller is a handheld remote controller with a 2.4 inch LCD TFT display that lets you control any Squeezebox device. Like the other devices, it communicates with your Squeezebox Server over wireless using a built-in 802.11b/g wireless network adapter.
A little known feature of the Squeezebox Controller is its ability to also act as a client, capable of streaming music over wireless just like the other devices in the Squeezebox range. This feature is still in beta and has to be enabled through the advanced options.
Once enabled, you will find an extra option in the <code>Choose Player</code> menu called <code>Controller</code>. Alternatively, if you plug headphones into the controller's 3.5mm jack, it should automatically choose local playback for you.
If you have problems selecting between the headphone jack or internal speaker, you can try installing this third party app on to your Squeezebox Controller.
Control using your iPhone/iPad or Android
There are a number of options available to you if you want to control your Squeezebox devices from your iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone/tablet.
- The Squeezebox Controller App from Logitech is a free smartphone / tablet app to control your Squeezebox devices. You should be able to find it in the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace by searching for 'Logitech' or 'Squeezebox'.
- The iPeng iPhone Plugin for Squeezebox Server is a free third party plugin for Squeezebox Server that provides a web interface that is optimized for iPhone’s Safari browser and is also supported by Android’s Chrome. The iPeng plugin still works but due to the small number of users still downloading it, it is less well supported.
- Finally, the iPeng iPhone App is a commercial third party app available from the Apple App Store for both iPhone and iPad. Although it costs a few quid, it provides a fast, slick interface that is more powerful than the stock Logitech App. For example, the app can be used to synchronise playback between multiple Squeezebox devices, letting you play the same music in multiple rooms. An in-app purchase will also let you stream music directly to your iPhone.