Logitech SqueezeBox Duet review, simply awesome

  • August 31st, 2009

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?