Squeezebox v3 Overview and Internet Radio
We already did a review of the Squeezebox2 music player which we found to be incredibly versatile and scored high marks for ease of use and quality of music playback. The goal of the Squeezebox is to eliminate the need for a huge physical CD collection. With Squeezebox, users can rip their CDs to a hard disc in one of the lossless formats and play it back through the high fidelity Burr-Brown 24-bit DAC. The Squeezebox v3 is functionally and internally identical to the Squeezebox2, but features a brand new enclosure that has completely redesigned the unit for a more “stunning” look. Instead of a geeky looking black box that does wonders, the unit now has the look of a polished product that can go head to head with the big boys.
A couple of welcome changes and additions were also made to the updated version of SlimServer (v 6.2.1 as of this review) since our last encounter with the Slim Devices product:
- Replay Gain: automatically adjust volume based on RG info
- WMA support in Firmware: streams WMA radio stations and local files
- Unicode support on the VF display
- Random Mix: allows mix based on songs, artists or albums with filters for unwanted genres
- Various Artists: automatically identifies various artists / compilation albums
- Lyrics support added to WebUI (iTunes 5 supports the USLT tag)
- Multiple comment keys of the same type are allowed for Vorbis users
- SqueezeNetwork & DirectStreaming (added just after my Squeezebox2 review was published
- Added “Radio” subsection allowing the user to select stations from SHOUTcast, radioed.com, Live365 Internet Radio, or even custom stations
- Improved Help topics in SlimServer
- Bug fixes and enhancements which are too many to name. See the Changelog for more details.
What’s in the Package
The Squeezebox v3 comes with just about the same materials as the Squeezebox2, but with improved packaging. I especially liked the opening statement inside the box: A 5x7 “MP3 is Not A Crime” sticker. I found it subtle but effective (not). Contents included the main unit, power supply, remote, manual, and a stereo RCA cable. Frills include batteries and a nice cleaning cloth to keep the shiny face of the Squeezebox clean and clear of dust or fingerprints (and you’ll use it because some people just can’t keep their hands off of a vacuum florescent display – trust me).
Internet Radio via SlimServer Software
In our last review we complained (ok, we whined and threw hissy fits) over how the comprehensive SlimServer software had overlooked direct access and manipulation of Internet Radio streams. While this was accessible on the unit itself via remote, the SlimServer software (which is extremely convenient in allowing you to essentially turn any laptop or PC into a sophisticated remote media player) lacked any controls or ability to select stations. This is no longer the case with the version 6.2.1 software I ran for this review, and apparently hasn’t been since Michael Herger, Dave Cohen, and chrisp810 added various interface modifications and plug-ins in v6.1b1 for what is an impressive interface. Full Internet radio support is offered and custom URLs can be input into the Slim Server and stored. These can be direct stream URLs or playlist (.pls) files which point to the stream. Oh yeah, Podcasts can be accessed via a custom plug-in... nice.