Squeezebox 3 Digital Music Box

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Post by Cams » Mon Jan 09, 2006 9:29 pm

The deed is done -- I've ordered an SB3 and have started the EAC ripping process to FLAC Lossless.

Thanks once again for the review. I shall report back when I've had a chance to evaluate it.

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Is this True?

Post by bwalker » Sat Jan 28, 2006 3:24 pm

Since it didn’t come out in the article, I assume it isn’t a problem with WAV files but I read somewhere that the Squeeze Box won’t fast forward though songs in certain formats. Is this true? The reason I am looking for clarification on this is because I downloaded the Squeeze Box emulator (SoftSqueeze) and it wont fast forward. It just skips to the next song. Has anyone else had this problem? I can’t believe this feature would have been left out.

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Post by Devonavar » Sat Jan 28, 2006 11:41 pm

There are audio formats that do not seek properly, and I would assume that the Squeezebox would have this problem with those formats. But, as far as I know, the Squeezebox doesn't have problems of its own for playback.

Also, there are certain formats that will refuse to seek if the file is incomplete or the data header is corrupt. This is fairly common with downloaded files.

Could you be more specific about the formats that you're using? I'm sure we could do a quick test if we knew exactly which format you were having trouble with.

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Post by Cams » Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:08 am

I just checked on my SB3 and you are right. FLACs seek okay - pressing and holding the ffwd button on the remote and releasing takes it to 2x; same again to 4x, etc. It doesn't do this with wav files for some reason. Could be a problem if you have large wav files and wanted to ffwd, although you could easily transcode to another format that does work if it was important to you.

As an aside, just about my SB3 experience in general. After reading the SPCR review, I sprung into more research, looking at the ROKU Soundbridge and Sonos devices. I chose the SB3 for reasons of affordabilty and because I'm rather geekish, as well as the fact that it can be modded (Red Wine, Boulder) for audiophile needs and the whole package seems to be much more open source and tweakable than the Sonos package.

I built a server with two 5400RPM HDDs (one for files, the other for backups) and am running ClarkConnect as the OS with SlimServer installed. I've also added a Gigabit switch to my network for shifting the audio files around and am now going through the process of ripping my CDs to FLAC with Exact Audio Copy. There has been a learning curve, and I'm only at the bottom of it, but I've got it all working. I have two SB3s, one in the kitchen with a pair of Klipsch speakers and the other in my living room hooked up to the amp. Audio quality is superb and I'm now listening to music much more than I ever did before; the TV is hardly ever on now! It's also really cool to rediscover CDs that have been gathering dust on my shelves for a long time.

So, in short, it's been a big project and I've spent a fair bit of money on it, but it has changed the way I think about music and I can only imagine that, once used to it, going back to CDs would seem so outrageously troublesome and primitive!

I'd love the chance to compare the Sonos and hope that I get the chance to do that someday.

I wonder when the same sort of deal will come out for DVDs. Hopefully not too long!

Thanks Mike and everyone for the SPCR review. You've changed my life!

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Post by bwalker » Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:22 pm

Could you be more specific about the formats that you're using? I'm sure we could do a quick test if we knew exactly which format you were having trouble with.
At this point I haven't purchased the SB3 yet so I am limited to the emulator (SoftSqueeze). I want to use the SB3 for wav files (44100 Hz, 16-bit, stereo) but am afraid to make the jump if it won't fast forward wav files.

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Post by Edward Ng » Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:26 pm

bwalker wrote:
Could you be more specific about the formats that you're using? I'm sure we could do a quick test if we knew exactly which format you were having trouble with.
At this point I haven't purchased the SB3 yet so I am limited to the emulator (SoftSqueeze). I want to use the SB3 for wav files (44100 Hz, 16-bit, stereo) but am afraid to make the jump if it won't fast forward wav files.
Why not use FLAC?

-Ed

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Post by bwalker » Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:38 pm

Why not use FLAC?
I use Cool Edit/Audition to edit my music. When saving the files in .wav format you can also save extra data (cues, ranges...) that you can't save when with .mp3 or .flac files. It also has to scan the files every time you open them while .wav files only have to be scanned the first time. (It saves a .pk file for future reference) Plus I already have a bunch of .wav file saved on my hard drive.


I'm surprised the article didn't mention a problem with the fast forward, especially since .WAVs are mentioned as a good place to start???

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Post by MikeC » Mon Jan 30, 2006 8:27 pm

bwalker wrote:I'm surprised the article didn't mention a problem with the fast forward, especially since .WAVs are mentioned as a good place to start???
Probably because I never use it. Only at the odd times when I'm trying to learn a chord progression or some such thing... which I hardly do any more. What do you use ff for anyway?

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Post by Cams » Mon Jan 30, 2006 11:03 pm

As the SlimServer software is under constant development, you could probably request this feature and have it included in a later release. I have to admit that I also find it surprising that this feature would be left out.

I too use Adobe Audition, but I mix and master the wav files on my DAW, so the SB3 isn't an issue for me. The mixdown could easily be transcoded. Ffwd could be an issue for concerts I've recorded onto MD and have as wav files on my HDD. That's where the cue sheet would work, although SlimServer also supports cue sheets.

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Post by peterson » Sun Oct 29, 2006 2:40 am

How will a HTPC compare with this one?
Mainly with a onboard soundcard and a S/PDIF digital output.
Handling is also an aspect of it.

I'm asking since the main reason for me to get a HTPC is to listen to music.
I have a fairly decent DVD-player, and no HD-TV yet. Not for a few years i think.

Thanks. :)

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Post by MikeC » Sun Oct 29, 2006 8:20 am

peterson wrote:How will a HTPC compare with this one?
Mainly with a onboard soundcard and a S/PDIF digital output.
Handling is also an aspect of it.

I'm asking since the main reason for me to get a HTPC is to listen to music.
I have a fairly decent DVD-player, and no HD-TV yet. Not for a few years i think.

Thanks. :)
Personally, I think the squeezebox is far better than a whole PC for music only, and the sound quality far better than the arrangement you suggest -- if your main stereo is good. Far more tailored to music requirements, and you don't need a PC anywhere in the same room as the music -- tho you do need one to run the software. The disk storage can be anywhere, though. For example, I was keeping all the music files in a network drive for a while, a NetDisqplugged into ethernet. Worked w/o issues, and w/ the drive hanging via elastic off 2 big nails in the joists in the floor between the ceiling and upper floor, it was completely silent.

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Post by Edward Ng » Sun Oct 29, 2006 9:25 am

FYI since Logitech is acquiring Slim Devices, support will likely both, improve in many ways (technical support/warranty/customer service) and lessen in other ways (open source advantages/flexibility of software). We won't really know until it all finally happens, though.

-Ed

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Post by peterson » Mon Oct 30, 2006 8:57 am

So what would it take for a PC to be on par with the Squeezebox? A better than average soundcard? So i know what i'm dealing with.

My main stereo is...ok. I used to have better sound before i got into Home Theater stuff. But i don't complain at all.

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Post by Devonavar » Mon Oct 30, 2006 12:20 pm

A better interface. Do you really want to be saddled with a monitor and keyboard in your living room just so you can listen to music? Do you want to wait for the computer to boot and go over to the computer just to change a song?

To be fair, I *do* use an HTPC for music — and sound quality is not an issue. I've learned to navigate using a cordless keyboard, but it's still a bit of a pain to turn things on and set things up whenever I want to listen to music. Let's put it this way: These days, I get more use out of my record player than my HTPC. The remote interface on the Squeezebox is much more elegant.

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Post by peterson » Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:30 am

Thanks for the info. I definately wnat one now :)

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Post by gb115b » Fri Nov 10, 2006 4:05 am

anyone tried the sonos system, i had a quick go - the remote is fantastic...

i have an original slimp3 and a squeezebox 2, so ideally looking for a decent remote upgrade for slim stuff rather than going to a whole new system....

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Post by computergeek22 » Sun Dec 17, 2006 1:10 am

Sorry to bring up an old review, but I must ask this. Wouldn't output by spdif to another DAC increase jitter? Wouldn't a USB DAC be better in terms of getting rid of jitter in the audio signal? Thanks.

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Post by Edward Ng » Sun Dec 17, 2006 7:50 am

computergeek22 wrote:Sorry to bring up an old review, but I must ask this. Wouldn't output by spdif to another DAC increase jitter? Wouldn't a USB DAC be better in terms of getting rid of jitter in the audio signal? Thanks.
It entirely depends on the design of the DAC. Benchmark's DAC1 is a design that does not rely on clock sync in the traditional fashion, so it does not suffer jitter effects. The DAC1 itself also has outstanding analogue output quality, which I cannot say for any of the DAC units I have seen with USB support.

Plus, there's no USB link on the Squeezebox, which is the topic of discussion here.

-Ed

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Optical versus Analog

Post by dvenardos » Thu Jan 11, 2007 1:05 am

Am I correct in assuming that the choice of using the digital versus the analog out on the squeezebox (assuming you have both available) would depend on whether the DACs are better on your preamp/receiver or the squeezebox?

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Re: Optical versus Analog

Post by Edward Ng » Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:01 am

dvenardos wrote:Am I correct in assuming that the choice of using the digital versus the analog out on the squeezebox (assuming you have both available) would depend on whether the DACs are better on your preamp/receiver or the squeezebox?
Basically, yes.

-Ed

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Post by jimmyfergus » Thu Jan 11, 2007 6:52 am

computergeek22 wrote:Sorry to bring up an old review, but I must ask this. Wouldn't output by spdif to another DAC increase jitter? Wouldn't a USB DAC be better in terms of getting rid of jitter in the audio signal? Thanks.
The odd thing about USB audio is that it is not properly error corrected - it's just as prone to jitter as the other connections. Bizarre, I know, you'd think there was a perfect opportunity to come up with some properly error corrected, fault tolerant protocol, but they didn't. It seems nothing is ever designed with audiophiles in mind, so they have to spend their time working out complex workarounds for the sub-optimal technology. So much for "perfect" digital audio.

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Post by ATWindsor » Sun Jan 14, 2007 8:55 am

jimmyfergus wrote:
computergeek22 wrote:Sorry to bring up an old review, but I must ask this. Wouldn't output by spdif to another DAC increase jitter? Wouldn't a USB DAC be better in terms of getting rid of jitter in the audio signal? Thanks.
The odd thing about USB audio is that it is not properly error corrected - it's just as prone to jitter as the other connections. Bizarre, I know, you'd think there was a perfect opportunity to come up with some properly error corrected, fault tolerant protocol, but they didn't. It seems nothing is ever designed with audiophiles in mind, so they have to spend their time working out complex workarounds for the sub-optimal technology. So much for "perfect" digital audio.
To be honest, most people I have encountered who call themselfs audiophiles doesn't seem to be very interested scientifical measurments, and technological innovations that can actually be proven to work. So in general basis, I'm prety glad "audiophiles" doesn't deside the desgins. (However there are of course audiophiles that actually know and follow the science behind sound).

AtW

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Post by jimmyfergus » Sun Jan 14, 2007 2:15 pm

ATWindsor wrote:To be honest, most people I have encountered who call themselfs audiophiles doesn't seem to be very interested scientifical measurments, and technological innovations that can actually be proven to work. So in general basis, I'm prety glad "audiophiles" doesn't deside the desgins. (However there are of course audiophiles that actually know and follow the science behind sound).
Having sympathies in both camps - and engineer who values the sound of my music - I'd defend the audiophiles in that many engineers gleefully laugh off their objections and comparisons between CD players, digital links, DACs etc., saying it's digital therefore perfect. In reality there are real problems with all those things. Pretty much few or no CD readers extract the data reliably bit-perfectly, and few or no digital links transmit it reliably bit-perfectly either.

Also, many engineers love to show frequency response graphs like they're the be-all and end-all of audio performance, when they're usually generated with fairly static generated signals that have none of the variation in the temporal dimension that real music has, so they don't measure the temporal responsiveness of the system. I think (?) that they're usually generated with a sine wave too, so don't measure the ability to render multiple frequencies simultaneously.

So, I'm not too surprised that many audiophiles reject everything but listening tests, given how the engineers' techniques and measurements have so often failed them. Personally, I think technical tests are the best for the digital realm, and once you go audio, the ear is the primary measurement. That's why I'm so frustrated that none of the digital audio interconnect techniques are technically reliable.

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Post by ATWindsor » Sun Jan 14, 2007 2:29 pm

jimmyfergus wrote:
ATWindsor wrote:To be honest, most people I have encountered who call themselfs audiophiles doesn't seem to be very interested scientifical measurments, and technological innovations that can actually be proven to work. So in general basis, I'm prety glad "audiophiles" doesn't deside the desgins. (However there are of course audiophiles that actually know and follow the science behind sound).
Having sympathies in both camps - and engineer who values the sound of my music - I'd defend the audiophiles in that many engineers gleefully laugh off their objections and comparisons between CD players, digital links, DACs etc., saying it's digital therefore perfect. In reality there are real problems with all those things. Pretty much few or no CD readers extract the data reliably bit-perfectly, and few or no digital links transmit it reliably bit-perfectly either.

Also, many engineers love to show frequency response graphs like they're the be-all and end-all of audio performance, when they're usually generated with fairly static generated signals that have none of the variation in the temporal dimension that real music has, so they don't measure the temporal responsiveness of the system. I think (?) that they're usually generated with a sine wave too, so don't measure the ability to render multiple frequencies simultaneously.

So, I'm not too surprised that many audiophiles reject everything but listening tests, given how the engineers' techniques and measurements have so often failed them. Personally, I think technical tests are the best for the digital realm, and once you go audio, the ear is the primary measurement. That's why I'm so frustrated that none of the digital audio interconnect techniques are technically reliable.
The problem is that many audiophiles do reject listening tests also. When differences can't be proven with double-blind-testing claim that thats not a good way to test.

And to be honest, although bit-errors are annoying, I have never seen any listening tests where a difference has beens shown (if the faults doesn't manifest themself in obious pops and so on, in other words the faults seem to be either ver obivios, or not noticable). Do you have any more data on this? It would be pretty interesting.

Frequency-responses are created in a number of different ways (if you are measuring a speaker), but a sweeping sine is one of the more normal ways.

The ear is a pretty magnificent organ, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't attack the problems with science.

But talking about technicall reliable, the squeezebox should be pretty reliable? Transfering the data through a regular network should be pretty safe, data-integrity-wise.

AtW

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Post by gb115b » Sun Jan 14, 2007 4:01 pm

i would think so...plumping got the transporter you'd hope should do it too, but the underlying technology is the same (up to a point)

re: bit errors it IS difficult to show in terms of listenign tests and even high end audiophile cd players aren't bit perfect (and don't even think about what happens with cds with surface imperfections), but as people don't notice the bit errors they can get away with it...

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Post by jimmyfergus » Sun Jan 14, 2007 5:45 pm

ATWindsor wrote:The problem is that many audiophiles do reject listening tests also. When differences can't be proven with double-blind-testing claim that thats not a good way to test.

And to be honest, although bit-errors are annoying, I have never seen any listening tests where a difference has beens shown (if the faults doesn't manifest themself in obious pops and so on, in other words the faults seem to be either ver obivios, or not noticable). Do you have any more data on this? It would be pretty interesting.

Frequency-responses are created in a number of different ways (if you are measuring a speaker), but a sweeping sine is one of the more normal ways.

The ear is a pretty magnificent organ, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't attack the problems with science.

But talking about technicall reliable, the squeezebox should be pretty reliable? Transfering the data through a regular network should be pretty safe, data-integrity-wise.

AtW
I don't think we're disagreeing on much really - I certainly don't reject science and engineering, I just think they have their limits which are sometimes understated and derided.

My audio systems would make self-described audiophiles laugh in derision, and I lose interest before getting really serious and doing listening tests on the digital issues - I've just read enough about the technical side to know that very little in digital audio is truly guaranteed bit-perfect (the CD format, or the S/PDIF connectors etc), so I think there is room for subjective measurement which is often derided as ludicrous and "faith-based". I listen to the claims of non-technical audiophiles and electronic engineers with equal skepticism. I'd certainly ignore anyone who rejected ABX tests.

I was annoyed in a hifi shop to face the badly disguised distain of the salesman when buying a coax connector cable and I told him it was a for a computer. He just looked at me when I had two heads when I said I could get a bit-perfect rip of a CD and had a soundcard that could output those bits unmodified and therefore the end result was a quality CD transport. I'm no apologist for those who reject engineering, most especially in the digital realm.

I believe the squeezebox has its own error-correcting protocol, so a CD rip with Exact Audio Copy or something, lossless encoding, via the Squeezebox is (I think) very faithful in the digital realm.

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Post by ultrachrome » Sun Jan 14, 2007 7:18 pm

I stopped frequenting hi-fi shops about 8 years ago. Since then I've been building all my own gear. In the diy audio crowd you run into a whole other class of audiophools. However, in their defense the ones who measure their projects tend to be the ones to trust.

I like building projects and being somewhat of a perfectionist about it but I don't have much tolerance for $30 RCA jacks, boutique resistors and cryogenically treated wire. Rebuilding a 40 year old tube amp pretty much made me realize that these folks were inhaling too much of the solder fumes.

I bought the SB2 and was stunned by how good it sounded. After trying a Roku M500 and not having a great experience with it, my expectations were somewhat low but I was tired of dealing with all those CD cases lying about.

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Post by quietdragon » Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:18 am

ultrachrome wrote:I bought the SB2 and was stunned by how good it sounded. After trying a Roku M500 and not having a great experience with it, my expectations were somewhat low but I was tired of dealing with all those CD cases lying about.
How would you characterise the difference between the M500 and the SB2?

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Post by ultrachrome » Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:47 am

If you use the M500 with Slimserver the basic functionality is the same. Same menus.

Three areas set the two apart. Display, remote, and quality.

The Squeezebox display is graphical and has more display options. It looks nicer and has some fun features such as a spectrum analyzer.

The Squeezebox remote is nicer and has letters assigned to the numeric keys (like a telephone) that makes finding an artist or album much easier.

Lastly, I've gone through one M500 already and the replacement unit is also having problems. The first one wouldn't connect reliably using wifi or ethernet and the second one locks up every other day or so.

I've never had any problems with the Squeezebox. It works reliably and has excellent sound qaulity.

One last thing, when I was actively using the M500, it did not support WPA security, only WEP. I've not checked to see what the replacement unit supports.

I've never had a problem with the Squeezebox.

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Post by Edward Ng » Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:22 pm

The only, "problem," I've had with my Squeezebox is that it refuses to connect with WEP disabled. Once I enable WEP, and put in the key, it works fine.

-Ed

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