Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Slim Devices : Squeezebox : Free your music!

Slim Devices : Squeezebox : Free your music!

I found this device when looking around for an addition to my MP3 (all legal)/whole house music collection. I checked details, did some research on line and ordered to see how it works.
First, a short background on my setup:
I have an extensive MP3 collection, mostly ripped from my CDs. A few years ago, I started looking for an easy and efficient way to manage my CDs, since I noticed that when you go over a certain treshold in quantity, you stop listening to a lot of them, because you simply don't remember what you have (and I have 600+). So, I looked at CD changers, but those cap at 400, and wile you can chain some of them, it becomes pricey. What I really wanted to do is to rip them all to MP3 format, store on a server and be able to access them from my stereo, computers, etc. I also wanted to be free of Windows and any proprietary software running on a server. Three years ago I found Audio Tron from Turtle Beach. It was a nice stereo component, that fit the rest of my components' looks, connected to my local network, and was able to pull any MP3s stored anywhere on a Windows share. It worked great (still does), but it is not produced anymore. Recently, after our move to Florida, I wanted to add a new device to my recreation room. I also wanted to make sure that it can be connected to my whole house radio system (OnQ). I came up with Squeeze Box!!!
It's a nice, small device that does not really look like a standard stereo system component, but it works great. You need to install a server component, but it's open source software and it installed on my Suse Linux server in no time. It was able to index my existing music very quickly. After pluggin in the Squeeze Box, I was able to listen to my MP3s in a matter of minutes. Additional bonus is an nice number of Internet radio stations available for the Squeez Box. You also have SqueezeNetwork, which is a service of Slim Device, that enables you to listen to your favorites (Internet radio stations) without running any server software locally. You can also use SquuezeNetwork to add radio stations that are not listed in their regular catalog.
Squeeze Box is a great product, which I highly recommend for anyone with extensive on line music collections.