Squeezebox v2 Overview and Basic Setup
Since the introduction of their SLIMP3 system in 2001, Slim Devices has captured the hearts of audio enthusiasts everywhere by producing affordable, scalable solutions that focus solely on audio. Their newest development, the Squeezebox2, is the next product from a company that appears to be focused on continually improving its product platform. The Squeezebox2 is not a video server, it doesn't display your photos or have TV outputs for on-screen display. It focuses solely on serving audio to an external powered system, whether located in your office, bedroom, or home theater. In addition, the Squeezebox2 seems dedicated to maximizing audio quality and providing a flexible interface that has room to grow and adapt to new formats. Among some of the noticeable features are:
- High fidelity Burr-Brown 24-bit DAC for analogue output
- Optical and coax S/PDIF outputs (simultaneously active with analogue output)
- Support for FLAC, Apple Lossless, WMA Lossless, AIFF, WAV, PCM, MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, MP2, MusePack, and WMA
- 802.11b/g-based networking with bridgeable Ethernet port (allows other network devices to connect to the network through the Squeezebox2)
- Universal compatibility with Windows XP/NT/2000, Mac OS X, and Linux/BSD/Solaris
- Easy semi-automatic setup
The Squeezebox2 is a completely reworked product that follows the original Squeezebox. The differences between the two devices are substantial. The Squeezebox2 adds:
- 802.11g networking (optional)
- Grayscale vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) with more than twice the resolution (320x32 pixels)
- Animations, transitions and visualizers, including a full screen, 64-channel, 30 frame-per-second stereo spectrum analyzer.
- Wireless bridging which allows wired Ethernet devices to plug into the wireless Squeezebox2, and access your network
- SlimDSP 蒂 , a scalable pure software architecture for all audio format decoding and signal processing functionality.
- Native FLAC support in the firmware
- High fidelity 24-bit Burr-Brown DAC
- High precision dedicated crystal clocks and separate linear power supplies for the audio stages
- 64Mbit buffer for extreme resilience to adverse wireless network conditions.
- SqueezeNetwork for access to your favorite internet radio stations, alarms, and more without a computer
- Option to add crossfades between songs
- Faster 100Mbps wired Ethernet interface
Marking itself as a truly innovative product, the Squeezebox2 was quickly configured in just a few easy steps. After connecting its digital coax S/PDIF output (optical also available) to the Emotiva DMC-1 processor and plugging in the provided AC adapter, the Squeezebox2 was ready to configure itself for use within my network.
While there are several products on the market that address streaming audio needs and provide solutions, it is difficult to find one that addresses audio so well. The Squeezebox2 is alone in its combination of price point, connectivity options (optical and coax S/PDIF), DAC quality and wireless-G capability. Add to that the additional features such a VFD, bridgeable Ethernet port and flexible plug-in architecture and you've got a unique product with some rather compelling selling points.
The text on the vacuum florescent display prompts you to use the remote control to navigate through the setup process. We reviewed the wireless Squeezebox2 so the setup allows you to either connect to a wired (Ethernet) or wireless network (802.11b/g compatible). We selected wireless and proceeded with setting/acknowledging the correct country and selecting the correct wireless network.
The Squeezebox2 setup provides support for use within a 64/128-bit WEP, WPA Personal, or unsecured environment. Unbeknownst to the Squeezebox2, I had enabled hardware-based MAC address security on my wireless network. In order to allow the Squeezebox2 access to my network I simply entered its MAC address which was located on the bottom of the unit.
Pressing the right arrow on the remote control then starts the network configuration process and then brings you to a place where you can have the Squeezebox2 obtain its IP address automatically (DHCP) - the most common way to connect to a home network - or allow you to enter a manual IP address. The final step is to select your music server where the Squeezebox will automatically scan for shared music files, adding them to its database and enabling playback from the system.
Keep in mind that for the most part, you are simply pressing the right arrow on the Slim Devices remote control for all of these steps, allowing the Squeezebox2 to configure itself as needed in order to ready itself for use as a streaming media device.