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Logitech Squeezebox Radio Review  Print E-mail
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Written by Mike Flacy   
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Article Index
Logitech Squeezebox Radio Review 
Music and Apps

Music and Apps

The Squeezebox Radio supports FLAC, Apple Lossless, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, AIFF, WAV and MP3 formats for streaming off your local server.  In regards to audio streams off the internet, it will play MP3, WMA, Ogg Vorbis and AAC.  A major detractor to the using the external speaker is that it’s going to be a mono experience and will only appeal to casual users.  You can pair the unit with a high quality set of headphones though.  I tested this unit with a couple types of headphones, my aging Sennheiser HD-580’s and the Bang & Oflusen A8 earbuds that I use for portable players.

I did some initial testing with music obtained from HDTracks in FLAC format, mostly Harry Hipolite’s blues album ‘Louisiana Country Boy’.  I was impressed with the quality, but could definitely see how anyone positioning the radio too far from the Wi-Fi router will run into some streaming issues.  Logitech recommends at least 1000 kpbs of bandwidth to stream FLAC files and 1500 kpbs for WAV / AIFF files.  You do have the ability to adjust how many seconds are buffered in the menu and increasing that length of time may help offset any abrupt breaks in the music to re-buffer the track.  If you are going to use Wi-Fi with the device, be sure to position it near the router to stream your highest quality files.  A wired connection will be able to manage anything that you throw at it.  

squeezebox menu

Response on my home network typically ranged from a second for MP3 files to a few seconds for files encoded at a higher bit rate.  The sound quality with my 580’s was above average; excellent highs & midrange with a thumping bass line.  As expected, the earbuds produced a thinner sound quality, somewhat absent of bass, but they are still an option for casual listening.

In the vein of internet streaming music, the Squeezebox Radio can load a variety of apps including Pandora, Slacker and Last.fm.  It can also access music on demand services like Amazon, Napster and Rhapsody.  Music labels can also directly create apps in relationship to album releases.  For instance, the Squeezebox Radio ships with a preview of Queen’s upcoming album and also includes exclusive band commentary.  Finally, Sirius satellite radio users will be able to log into their accounts to access that network of music.  Similar to other Sirius enabled devices, users will get 30 days for free before having to decide to sign up.

With this version of the Squeezebox, Logitech is also moving into the social networking realm with Facebook and Flickr apps.  The Facebook app is somewhat limited in functionality, mostly due to the navigation and the small screen.  Users are better off sticking with a mobile device for Facebook browsing, but you can direct your music listening stream to post to your Facebook profile.  The Flickr app is somewhat more conducive to the Squeezebox Radio, mostly due to quick access for sharing photos with a friend and the full color screen that offers a fine display for said photos.

If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can access the SqueezeBox Radio with a couple different apps; iPeng and Sqeemote.  They will allow for browsing through your music collection and navigating the Squeezebox menus remotely.  These are ideal if you have a variety of Squeezebox products throughout the house as well.  Additionally, custom installers have access to a Crestron software module that simulates the IR remote and integrates with the Squeezebox display.  
squeezebox ipod

Drawbacks

Obviously, the mono speaker setup and the limited output options are going to detract from the listening possibilities for a serious listener.  The sound from the speaker is somewhat shallow, mostly depending on the highs to produce the most distinction in the music.  I would recommend pairing this with a high quality set of headphones for the best possible listening experience.  I was also disappointed that the Squeezebox Radio couldn’t remember that the headphones were plugged in when I powered it back up.  Each time the unit is fully powered up, you have to re-plug the headphones into the unit otherwise the sound plays through the speaker.  

The lack of an included remote is something of a drawback as well.  This system seems perfect made for a simple remote, even if it doesn’t have the functionality of the Squeezebox Duet remote.  A battery pack is also a separate purchase, if you plan on going mobile with it.  Both of those will sell for a MSRP of $49.99 as a package deal in November 09.  Finally, the lack of a better keyboard option is frustrating as well.  I would hope a future release of the firmware would include a better option for typing in user information or searching through music. 

Conclusion

The Logitech Squeezebox Radio is perfect for the web-savvy, internet radio guru who is well entrenched in popular music services like Pandora or Last.fm.  The podcast junkie will love being able to create custom streams and load up their favorite internet-radio shows.  The audiophile will likely be disappointed in the sound quality of the internal speaker and would likely be more at home with the Logitech Transporter as a server, but should be impressed with the variety of streaming options included.  File compatibility is excellent for those with large music collections as well.  This edition in the Squeezebox line is ideal for bedrooms, kitchens or small offices looking to connect into their existing home network.  
Manufacturer Logitech





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