Logitech squeezebox

Got lots of CDs and other music?

Want to play the music instantly anywhere in the house or garden without touching a CD?

I can recommend the Logitech Squeeze box family.

These Squeezeboxes let you stream the music stored on your computer or NAS drive direct to the Squeezebox. The Squeezebox connects to your network and you have the option to connect directly via a LAN cable, or via wi-fi if you have a wireless router. You can also access thousands of internet radio stations from the Squeezebox.

You rip (convert to MP3 files) your Cds (using Windows own Media Player, or your own choice of software) and store the files in a folder on your computer. You can have as many subfolders as you like. This way you can divide the music up into different groups if you want to.

The Squeezebox connects to your computer via your network and accesses the folder that the music is in. Depending on the Squeezebox model you have, you can scroll through your entire collection of music using the buttons on the Squeezebox, or the remote control. You could even use your mobile phone, such as a Blackberry to control the Squeezebox - all the information and menus being displayed on the phone.

If you have a ReadyNAS (a storage device containing a hard drive that connects to your network), you could copy all your music to that and as long as the NAS drive was on, you wouldn’t need the computer to be switched on. The ReadyNAS uses less power than a computer and could be left running all the time if you wanted

As the Squeezebox is connected to your network (via cable or wi-fi), it means that it can easily access the thousands of radio stations that are available on the internet. You do not have to have a computer switched on to listen to the radio stations, as the Squeezebox connects directly to the internet. Choosing stations are easy, and if there are any stations you particularly like, you can save them for easy access via the Squeezebox favourites menu.

All models let you connect the Squeezebox to your stereo / sound system - either via the earphone socket, or phono socket / optical / co-axial socket, depending on the model.

I have the Squeezebox Wireless Network Music Player - All Black, which is the same as the Classic 3 model which Logitech no longer list on their site (it may have been replaced by the Duet, but it’s still available elsewhere).

The All Black is a neat little device, 7½” wide, 3 3/4” high and 1” deep (+ stand at rear) and would fit in well wherever you have it Nearly half the depth is taken up by a fluorescent display that can be customised as required. Depend how you have it set up, the scrolling display can show details of the music you’re playing, the internet radio station track that is playing, time since start of the track, time since end of the track, artist, album name, track number etc.

The display is quite large and easily seen across the room. There are different levels of display brightness and you can choose various screensaver options for the display, including a blank display. Access to all the music is via the remote control. And an easy to use menu system lets you quickly get to where you want by just using a few buttons on the remote. The music files can be accessed either by going through the folder (and subfolders) on the computer in alphabetical order, or via one of several headings such as Genre, Year, Artist etc. In this case, slecting year, will let you see the albums or tracks for that year. It’s also possible to search for a specific track by just entering the name or part name directly via the remote control.

The remote control is just the right size, not too big and has a nice feel to it. The number buttons double up as text input buttons, like a mobile keypad. There is an all-singing all dancing remote control available that has it’s own built in screen etc. And this can be used to control any Squeezebox, but as this is £200, I think I can manage without it! As mentioned earlier, a mobile phone can be used to operate Squeezeboxes, I think the principle is the same as for the fancy remote control, so if you have a spare Blackberry or similar hanging around, you could put it to good use.

The All Black has a built in alarm system, and you can add alarms as you want - you can have a different alarm set for each day of the week, every day, etc. There is a range of different alarm tones / sounds.

There are also downloadable plug-ins that can be used to enhance the performance of the unit and give you extra facilities. You can even create your own if you so desire!.

Like all the Squeezebox models, the All Black has a built in wireless interface for wi-fi connection. On the back are the following connections:

Headphone socket - this can also be used to connect to powered speakers if you want

Phono sockets, Co-axial socket and optical socket, giving a choice of connections to your sound system.

Ethernet socket - to make a cable connection direct to your network instead of via a wi-fi connection

Power supply socket - the low voltage supply is from a standard power supply unit

This Squeezebox was ideal for what I wanted. I already had a standalone media play with a built in hard drive that could play the music from the hard drive, or connect to a computer to stream the music from there, but the problem was the built-in fan was noisy and I needed something quiet. I also needed something that could pick up the internet radio whenever I wanted it without having to have the computer on.

The Squeezebox units can be expensive, so shop around. I assume that the price shown on the Logitech site is the recommended price.

Logitech’s website gives descriptions of the models and general information

Amazon Squeezebox listing - see the specific Squeezebox model for reviews

Logitech. Amazon.