Category Archives: logitech

Reviewing the Logitech Squeezebox Touch

I found time over the long weekend to review the Logitech Squeezebox Touch. It’s a great gadget, which I like better the more I play with it, though it has flaws. I also suspect that Logitech’s marketing does not do it justice.

Most people look to Apple’s iTunes when they make the transition from CDs to computer-based music; but the Squeezebox system is more flexible. It is multi-room: once you have the server set up, you can have as many players as you want around the house, all playing different material. It also does cloud streaming, and if you combine a player like the Touch with a Napster subscription you can play almost anything, apart from a few awkward choices like The Beatles (who don’t do iTunes either). Internet radio comes for free and works very well.

The Touch is the first player to have a colour screen with touch control, though like many users I don’t see a lot of value in the touch aspect. I enjoy seeing album artwork though. Another neat feature is the Flickr app, which displays random or tagged photos from Flickr while your music plays.


The Touch has superb sound quality, being bit-perfect up to 24/96. The built-in DAC (digital to analogue converter) is very good, or you can use an external DAC. There’s also a headphone socket which you could attach to powered speakers to make a high quality desktop system.

The problem with the Touch is that it is not always easy to set up. There are almost too many choices. Run your Squeezebox server on a PC or Mac, or on a NAS (network attached storage) drive, or just use the hosted

A further option with the Touch is to attach a USB drive directly to the device. That seems ideal: low power consumption and simple setup. Unfortunately this is one of the most problematic areas. Users report problems both with USB-powered drives and with performance and reliability, especially with larger music libraries. It also takes ages to index a new library, and quite a long time to re-connect to an existing library if you remove and re-attach the drive.  For now, it’s best to rely on one of the other approaches.

One discovery I made when reviewing the Touch is SqueezePlay. Currently in beta, this is a cross-platform software player that has pretty much the same user interface as the Touch. You can download it here. SqueezePlay can operate as its own player, so you can listen on a PC, or as a controller for another player, whether a Touch or another in the Squeezebox range. The configuration seems buggy at the moment, but otherwise I’ve found it reliable.


Incidentally, the hardware Touch has the same capability. You can use it to control itself, or any other player. The wealthy might like to consider buying a couple of Touch devices, one to attach to a stereo system, and the other to sit on a table where you can reach it without getting up, and to act as a controller for the first one.

It’s a good example of how flexible the Squeezebox system is. I give it high marks for sound quality and flexibility, but it is spoilt by fiddly configuration and a few quirks. Logitech needs to crack “it just works”.

See the full review for more.

Ubuntu Karmic Koala breaks Squeezeboxserver

I have an Ubuntu server performing various important duties including serving music for Squeezebox. It was humming along with version 9.04 of Ubuntu and the latest Logitech Squeezeboxserver; but a new version of Ubuntu, 9.10 or Karmic Koala, was released today and I hastened to install it.

All went well – aside from a problem with Grub 2 which is related to my slightly unusual setup – except that Squeezebox Server failed after the upgrade completed. When I tried to use aptitude to correct the problem, I saw an error message:

The following packages have unmet dependencies.

squeezeboxserver: Depends: mysql-server-4.1 but it is not installable or

mysql-server-5.0 but it is not going to be installed

Frustrating, particularly as this thread indicates that squeezebox server runs fine with MySQL 5.1, which is installed.

I messed around trying to get apt-get to force the install but it would not play. I therefore downloaded the .deb directly and ran the following command:

dpkg –i –-force-all squeezeboxserver_7.4.1_all.deb

This tells dpkg to install the package come what may. It did so; and everything works fine.

Update: Andy Grundman tells me that the problem is fixed in Squeezebox Server 7.4.2, currently in beta.

Logitech Squeezebox Radio has social features, unsocial price

Logitech has announced the Squeezebox Radio, similar in concept to the Squeezebox Boom which I reviewed earlier this year, but smaller, cheaper, and with a colour screen. It’s set to go on sale soon at $199.00.


The Squeezebox Radio has a trendy new feature: Facebook integration:

Say you just discovered a new track listening to Pandora® on your Squeezebox Radio. Now you can tell your friends about it instantly. You can display your Facebook page right on the screen; and send music recommendations to your Facebook friends the moment you hear that amazing new track.

There’s no remote included as standard, but a $50 accessory pack will provide both a remote and a rechargeable battery, for portable use (but don’t go too far, because it depends on a wi-fi connection).

I am a big fan of the Squeezebox system, though it is not the easiest thing to explain in a few words. It’s interesting that Logitech is choosing to emphasise the internet radio aspect – handy for UK listeners threatened with the loss of FM – rather than the networked music player using a local server that is the original Squeezebox concept. I’ve used Squeezebox in conjunction with a Napster all-you-can-eat subscription, and the combination works very well indeed. Logitech needs to support Spotify, which has faster start-up and more mindshare than Napster. It’s a logical move for both companies. Facebook support on the other hand I can live without.

The snag with selling this as a radio is that it looks very expensive for what it is. $199 for a radio with Facebook support? The high price together with the complexity of setting up SqueezeCenter (if you do) is what holds the system back.

Logitech Squeezebox Radio on (Black)

Logitech Squeezebox Radio on (Red)

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Squeezebox and Napster – the perfect combination?

I’ve just posted a review of the Squeezebox Boom, a lovely device that once set up is perfect for hiding all the computer gunk and letting you enjoy the music wherever you are in the house. During the review I noticed that Logitech’s Squeezenetwork, which aggregates a number of Internet radio stations and music services for use with Squeezebox, announced Napster support last week.

I tried this, and it is amazing, though you do need to subscribe to Napster; trial accounts are available. If I want to play any song or album in Napster’s vast library, I select Squeezenetwork as the music source on the Boom, select the Napster music service, search the Napster library, and play the music. No computer has to be running for this to work. Sound quality is good though noticeably worse than locally-streamed lossless FLAC; more radio than hi-fi.

I’ve also been spending time with Spotify. Like Napster, this makes a huge library available, plus it has a couple of advantages. Performance is better, with near-instant search results and playback; and best of all it is free, if you can tolerate occasional advertisements. Unfortunately Spotify does not integrate with Squeezebox yet, though users are clamouring for it.

The Squeezebox is a schizophrenic product with one foot in the old world of local media storage, and one foot in the new world of Internet streaming via Squeezenetwork. Squeezebox plus Napster is great; Squeezebox plus Spotify would be even better. Either one makes Apple’s iTunes purchase-and-download model look dated.

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