Sunday, January 08, 2006

Squeezebox Blues

With all the positive buzz around the Squeezebox and other computer based audio solutions, it only takes a few hiccups to remind you that the SB is still a computer hardware/software device, which means you may invariably suffer computer glitches both in the setup and use. With over 20 years of computer experience, I am used to all manner of computer hiccups, but it still irritates me when I have to spend time resolving the issue. This is a good reminder to keep ahold of my CD-based system, just in case. I had planned to sell my CD transport, but am resigned to keeping it as a backup.

Most problems with the Squeezebox have very little to do with the Squeezebox, and more to do with the computer hardware or with third party software settings. The biggest bugs usually are:
  • firewalls (you need to configure your firewall to allow access to the SB)
  • incompatible or unruly wireless routers or their settings (See the slimdevices website for known compatibility problems with your current wifi router)
  • standard network configuration issues (DHCP problems)

I had been running the SB3 for weeks with no problems, then yesterday, I could not access the computer. While I didn't think anything had changed, I realized the Mac Mini had automatically updated some software, plus I had upgraded my wireless router settings. My wireless router serves both a Windows PC as well as the Mac Mini. Anyway, I spent 2 hours troubleshooting, and finally chased the problem down to a configuration setting on the wireless router.

This is the downside versus CD transports, which are pretty much plug n' play with my audio system. It did get me thinking about the negatives of relying on a computer-based audio server compared to more traditional CD based systems:

CONS of a Squeezebox:

  • In its most general form, it is a computer network device. Any issues common to setting up a computer network could be encountered with the SB, especially if you are using your computer for other tasks.
  • Used in wireless configuration, SB3's can be prone to the same issues impacting other wifi devices, like signal strength or wifi router incompatibility.
  • It does not support computer audio files that have commercial DRM. This means most files downloaded from iTunes music store, or other similar online music stores.
  • It does not yet support high resolution SACD or DVD-A formats.
  • Need and Expense of Backup: Music files must be backed up in order to avoid any risk of file corruption or hard drive failure (this is not a SB problem; rather, a problem common to any computer based system).

None of these outweigh the positive benefits, and in my current experience, they are encountered usually initially (if at all), or following some software upgrade or change to your computer. Plus, I have noticed that the Squeezebox online community is ready, willing, and in most cases, able to help you out with free advice, tips, or trouble shooting.


Post a Comment

<< Home