Logitech SqueezeBox Duet review, simply awesome

There once was a time when I assumed that setting up a quality home music network would be challenging and costly. I thought that my main options were either the (1) Sonos Music System or (2) Airport Express + iTunes combination. Two different methods of music network bliss – each with their own caveats.

  1. Sonos System – Capable of streaming a personal library plus a handful of internet services like Pandora without a computer. Purchase the core hardware, connect speakers, and start listening. Downside? Cost.
  2. Airport Express – Significantly lower cost in comparison. Plugin, connect speakers, start iTunes, grab iPhone or iPod Touch (wireless controller), and start listening. Downside? Computer with iTunes installed.

The ideal home music network?

  • Easy to setup – No one wants to spend time reading instructions on how to get setup. It’s not rocket science.
  • Cost effectiveness – The idea of being able to walk from room to room and playing the role of DJ Home shouldn’t break the bank.
  • Connectivity – Wired or wireless. The idea is to send music to speakers wherever they might be.
  • Compatibility – Personal library and / or free and subscription based internet streaming services?
  • Flexibility – Music doesn’t need to be permanently stored on a single computer. Access any computers or external storage devices on a network.
  • Always on – Music should stream instantly without waiting for a computer to wake from sleep or boot-up.

I yearned for a simple piece of hardware which would meet all of the above criteria. I was already familiar with Slim Devices SqueezeBox but had no idea of the updated product line and discovered the Duet.

Meet the Logitech SqueezeBox Duet

DSC_0003

Logitech acquired Slim Devices back in October 2006. Since then, the SqueezeBox series has seen new additions including the release of the SqueezeBox Duet.

SqueezeBox Duet

SqueezeBox Receiver – Wired or wireless network connection. Audio output options include analog or digital out. Once connected to the internet, the receiver talks to your [free] SqueezeNetwork account grabbing account info and service logins. For personal music playback, the receiver checks your local network for SqueezeCenter – the downloadable client which runs in the background on your computer. (Full Specs)

SqueezeBox Controller

SqueezeBox Controller – 2.4" LCD with a iPod-esque scroll wheel to navigate and control. 802.11g wireless support means complete control from a different room. Like the Logitech Harmony remotes family, the display shuts off after a specified interval and turns on whenever the remote is picked up.

Together, the two work in perfect harmony providing you with complete access to your personal or online music libraries.

Bring the internet, speakers, and more storage

Setting up the SqueezeBox Duet to send audio to my Samsung speaker bar required very little work. And thanks to its discrete size and appearance, the receiver disappeared quite easily into the TV stand.

Within 10-15 minutes, I had the receiver and controller unpacked, plugged in, connected to the wireless network, communicating with my SqueeezNetwork account, and streaming a station from my Pandora account. Beyond the initial language settings, wireless network configuration, and account setup for streaming services, the SqueezeBox Duet is music when you want it within seconds of powering waking up the receiver.

The beauty of this little gem shines even more so when configuring multiple rooms in a household for music playback. Assuming separate speakers in each room, the only additional networking hardware required is the receiver. Once added to the network, your controller will add the device to your SqueezeNetwork for management.

The ability to access my entire music library (and then some) without a computer is an awesome feeling. I am already making plans to offload all of my non-DRM files to a network storage device (NAS) for access through the Duet. Now to find a good NAS… Ideas?

Music playback is limited to non-DRM protected tracks with support for MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, MP2, MusePack, WMA, and Lossless (Apple, FLAC, WMA).

SqueezeBox Duet issues

SqueezeNetwork Account Page

  1. Clunky web interface for managing your different service accounts and devices. During setup, I was never sure if account info was saved properly or accepted.
  2. No unified music library. Listening services like Pandora or Last.fm require that the Duet connect with your SqueezeNetwork account. In order to listen to your local network libraries, you will need to disconnect from SqueezeNetwork and connect to your installed SqueezeCenters.
  3. Occasional slow startup time for the controller. I noticed that that using the iPeng iPhone app does not experience the same sluggish start.

Supported internet services

The SqueezeBox Duet supports the following services out of the box: Classical.com, Last.fm, Live365, Mediafly, MP3tunes, Napster, Pandora, RadioIO, RadioTime, Rhapsody, Sirius, and Slacker.

Music entertainment is new again

Controller charger

In short, music is now a constant source of entertainment at home. Rather than turning on the television I turn on the sound bar and relax with the controller in hand.

Sources Pandora Stations Album Artwork

For those who carry their iPhones around the house regularly, you may want to check out the iPeng (App Store). iPeng provides every feature provided by the SqueezeBox Controller. Note that if you are sitting at a computer, you can control the Duet through your SqueezeNetwork account in your web browser.

For those who do not own a stereo system, the SqueezeBox Boom may be a good option. Are you running a music network at home?

Discuss - 12 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    Sounds good… definitely looking at something like this. Do you know if it works with any UPnP server (such as Twonkymedia, which I use with my Roku SoundBridge) – I’ve got my wife addicted to SomaFM and now she wants it in the bedroom too. Current ‘solutions’ are my laptop plugged into a ‘ghetto blaster’, or the clock radio tuned into my cellphone (which has WiFi and an FM transmitter).

    • Derek says:

      Unfortunately SqueezeBox devices do not support UPnP at this time. I looked around during the initial setup and from what I’ve gathered, it is something that may be delivered via software update.

    • Eric says:

      Actually it doesn’t sound good at all – it sounds terrible. Playing 192k mp3′s, which should sound almost indistinguishable from a cd, the sound is strangely fuzzy and muddy in the middle, with a flabby bass, distorted top end and poor stereo. The sound from an iPod is far superior, and from a good SoundBlaster card there is absolutely no comparison. And the latter is about 20% of the price.

  2. Raul says:

    Didn’t know this was out there. Thinking about getting one.

    Do you know if you can search stations or interact with Pandora, etc… from the remote?

    • Derek says:

      Every function you would find for Pandora online is present on the controller. Create or delete stations, like or dislike tracks, add additional artists or songs to an existing station, album artwork…

  3. Another alternative with Airport Express is using Airfoil to stream music or iPhone to control iTunes.

    http://www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/

    http://www.apple.com/itunes/remote/

    • Derek says:

      Good reminder. A few guys at work use Airfoil regularly to stream Pandora, Spotify, or whatever application they choose to the office network speakers.

    • eug says:

      mmm… with an iphone, wouldn’t it be the case that every time you want to change tracks or even adjust the volume, you’d have to pick it up, switch it on, unlock it, load the app, wait for it to connect, then do what you want to do? Seems like a bit of a pain?

    • Derek says:

      Not at al difficult. More like unlock, tap iPeng on the first page of apps, then change volume or station / app. The latest iPeng update connects and loads controls faster than the previous release. Since my phone is always on me, it is indeed much more convenient than finding the Logitech remote – especially if I’m two rooms away.

      I’ve started using the browser front end over the last week to control the Squeezebox while working which is also convenient.

  4. Paul says:

    You may want to check out a Synology CubeStation for a NAS device. That’s actually what got me into the SqueezeBox, as it comes bundled with it, so I’m now looking at the Duet to control it without using a computer and the browser front end.

    Is the navigation on the controller pretty quick? Sometimes on the browser, it can seem a little slow, so am wondering if it uses the same protocol to communicate?

    • Derek says:

      Navigation on the controller is not quick and it does have it’s slow moments. I’m not sure if the occasional sluggish behavior is due to the remote, my network, or squeezenetwork.com. The few times that I’ve used my computer as a music server have been great. Any time I try and access My Apps like Pandora or Last.fm, the initial load can be snappy or slow. Again, it could be the network, cached info, or something else. I usually control the Duet using my iPhone + iPeng.

  5. Mark says:

    I just recently started using my 3-year old Squeezebox 3′s with Pandora just a couple of weeks ago. It rocks! The sound quality is outstanding. There are the occasional pause issues between songs, and the menu on the SB3 works well with Pandora. The forward button will skip the current song.

    One weird thing is the SB3 shuts off if you switch from SqueezeServer to mySqueezebox.com, requiring you to turn it on again. Not a big deal, but odd.

    I use a Logitech Harmony universal remote, so I don’t need a Squeezebox Duet. If I ever need another I would try to find another SB3 or go with the Squeezebox Touch.

    Squeezebox is great if you have a home stereo and want to run Internet Radio through it. You might be able to find a cheap SB2 or SB3 off of eBay. If you go this route, you may need to contact Logitech support because the mysqueezebox.com network hard codes the players MAC address to the user account, which is used to connect to Pandora.

    Squeezebox has become my default method of listening to the radio, the ability to listen to a stream of an AM station at night (for example, night sports) when over the air would be impossible, the ability to listen to distant station (sports again, as well as TSF Jazz from Paris), the ability to get good quality WMA, MP3, and AAC+ streams of HD2 and HD2 multicast channels (when the station streams them, not all do) without an HD Radio receiver, are all good reasons for an Internet radio receiver.