- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 12 January 2009
The SqueezeCenter software installed without any problems. I then had to turn on the handset and receiver, and go through a process of connecting to my media server wirelessly, which requires putting in your network password. Once this is done, the handset will display your albums. If you leave the handset out of its recharging cradle, it will last all day long, but if you don't put it back in the cradle at all during the day, the handset will shut down by the end of the day because the battery power is weak.
I did encounter an initial problem getting the receiver to connect to the server. I called Squeezebox tech support, and they said I had an early version of the receiver firmware that had connection problems. They stepped me through the process of getting the updated firmware, which required a hard wire Ethernet connection from the receiver to my network router. If you end up with this same problem, simply call their tech support, which I feel is the best I have ever encountered with any product. It was superb. Note that you should use the handset to download firmware updates for the handset and receiver, and use your PC connected to the Squeezebox website to download updates for the SqueezeCenter software.
The SqueezeCenter software needs a lot of work to make it more user friendly. One of the main things you will do with it is to manage playlists (it's more difficult to do this using the handset, so you should do this from the SqueezeCenter software interface on your PC). The process involves displaying your albums in a left side window and moving the ones you want in the playlist to the right side, where the contents of a playlist are shown. The problem is that you have to go back and forth between several menus to add each album, and it is not intuitive in the least. You have to choose an album, move its contents to the right window pane, click save, and then name the playlist. Secondly, the playlist does not just list albums. It simply has all the tracks in the album. There is a small album icon next to each track, but if you put several albums in the playlist, you have to do a lot of scrolling to see what you have in the playlist.
This whole process needs to be streamlined with a drop down menu labeled "Playlists". Items in the menu should be "Create Playlist" and "Open Playlist". You should be able to drag and drop albums shown in the left window pane to the new playlist or existing playlist that has been opened in the right window pane. You should be able to rearrange the order of the albums in the playlist. The list of albums should remain visible at all times in the left window pane. That is not the case with this software and is a reason you have to go back to another menu to get them listed again after moving one album to the playlist. The current software operates based on obscure little buttons and arrows rather than right clicking and seeing menus. It appears to be more of a Macintosh type screen, and since this is the Windows PC version of the software, I suggest the programmers put more things in that PC users are accustomed to, namely lots of drop down menus and right click options.
On the handset, when you click on an album, you see the track list and an option to "Play All". If you want to set things up for the evening with several albums, there should be a second option when you click on subsequent albums, so that it offers "Play All" and "Add to Que". You should be able to go back to one of those albums in the que and it would say "Play All" and "Remove from Que" should you change your mind about having one of the albums in the que, or if you accidentally added the worng album. In the que, you should be able to right click on an album, or one of the tracks in the album and see a menu that says "Display by Album", "Display by Track Listing".
Many albums that you rip to your music directory on your PC will show up in the Squeezebox with typos, Japanese characters (not a problem if you can read Japanese), or it will say Unknown Album, with no title, no artist, no identified tracks. What you need for this problem is software that is called a "Tagger". This lets you change the metadata that identifies what is on the album. You should use the tagger when any one album is ripped and shows up with such problems rather than ripping a dozen albums and you see that six of them are unidentified, and you have to figure out which ones are which. If you tag the album data whenever you rip an album and see that it is not identified, you won't run into trouble.
My issue here is that SqueezeCenter software does not have a tagger, and I feel that it should. That way, you could rip an album, see it listed in SqueezeCenter, and edit the metadata. Since it does not have the tagger, I used Windows Media Center to do that. It does have a tagger, and you simply click on an album, click Edit, and you can change the title, artist, category, and titles of music tracks. For Windows XP, you need the Media Center version. For Vista, Media Center is included. Otherwise, you need to get tagging software (do a Google search for all the programs that are out there).
Once you have ripped albums, you have to use a menu in SqueezeCenter to read the contents of your music directory again so that the new albums will show up in the hand held controller.
In terms of quality though, the music sounds terrific. I was not able to tell whether the Squeezebox or my CD player was delivering the music, and I have very high quality CD players here in the lab. I suspect there might be a bit more distortion and noise, but if so, it was not noticeable. I used the RCA analog outputs from the receiver to my preamplifier (Balanced Audio Technology VK-5i). If you use the coaxial or Toslink output from the receiver to a high end DAC in your system, that might deliver an improvement, although it might not be audible. Nevertheless, if you have a good DAC, use one of the digital outputs from the Squeezebox receiver, as this will eliminate noise in the receiver's analog circuit, and if you use the Toslink optical connection, this will prevent any cable impedance mismatching.