The 22nd century ghetto blaster.
Logitech’s Squeezebox Boom is a media streamer that combines all the functionality of previous Squeezebox products with an updated control system and a great set of attached speakers.
- Impeccable network streaming implementation, very easy to use, great sound
- A few niggles with the interface and set up
Apart from a few small grievances we feel that the Logitech Squeezebox Boom is far and away the best all-in-one music streamer on the market.
Price$ 649.95 (AUD)
Along with being far more technologically advanced, it’s smaller than your average ghetto blaster. It is just 330mm long, 127mm tall and 79mm deep. This means it will happily sit on a bookshelf or bedside table without taking up too much room. In fact, we found ourselves occasionally thinking that the device would benefit from a stand to give it a little extra height.
It has a well-designed interface, too. The large scroll wheel that dominates the front of the device is used for general menu scrolling and selection, and the other buttons are clearly but unobtrusively marked. It might take a little while to get used to these controls (it’s a little disconcerting to control the volume with two buttons rather than the central knob, for example). The buttons are back-lit, which lends the system a high-end feel. All information is shown on the Squeezebox Boom’s vacuum fluorescent display; it's a crisp and detailed screen that’s easy to see from a distance thanks to an automatically adjusting back-light.
The display also has a huge range of user adjustments. It defaults to a system clock and digital volume display when not in use, but this can be customised via PC or on the unit itself. We’re suckers for the digital representation of the analog VU meters which give it the feel of an old-school jukebox.
A remote control is bundled, with a four-way pad in place of the scroll wheel. The buttons are rubberised and have good tactile feedback; this isn’t the bargain-bin, credit card remote that other media streamers come with. Yes, we’re looking at you Tivoli Audio NetWorks Radio.
We’ve loved all of the Squeezebox line of products, including the most recent: the Squeezebox Duet. Thankfully, the Squeezebox Boom is no different. It is an almost-flawless implementation of local and Internet-based music streaming.
In its most simple configuration, the only connector you’ll need to plug in is the power. Here’s another tiny grievance: the power cable is slightly too short for our liking. A battery would’ve been a great addition, too, so the device could become truly wireless.
In any case, there are two other ports on the rear of the device that might interest you. If you’re not wireless-savvy, or want the security of a physical connection, a 10/100 Ethernet port will be your port of call. And there’s a 3.5mm stereo jack for a direct line-in if you want to skip network shenanigans altogether — but why would you? There’s also a line out port for headphones or a subwoofer.
As we’ve come to expect, the network streaming functionality is nigh-on flawless. There are no external antennas or arrays to plug in; just turn the device on and it will automatically search for a wireless connection in the area. Entering a password is easy using the device’s clickable scroll wheel, although the remote can also be used without any issues.
It will work out all the complicated security settings for your network automatically — we didn’t have to delve into our wireless router’s settings and remember what encryption it was using.
Once that’s done it will connect to the SqueezeNetwork (if you’ve already set up a free account on the SqueezeNetwork Web site) and download an up-to-date list of all the streaming radio stations and other online content you can access. This is all done in the background with no waiting whatsoever, resulting in a pleasant, trouble-free experience.
PC streaming is also fantastically easy, with the installation of SqueezeCenter software the only thing necessary. It will find your files and catalogue them. The Squeezebox Boom can handle almost any file type, including FLAC, Apple Lossless and WMA Lossless. Unfortunately, there’s no DRM support — so your Apple Store and Windows PlaysForSure purchases won’t play. While this is a slight disappointment, DRM licensing would make the device more complicated and expensive. There are plenty of DRM-free online music stores to choose from.
The speakers built into the device are of a surprisingly high standard. Despite only having a 3in woofer driver and a 3/4in tweeter, the sound created is expansive and pleasing — even more so with the activation of Stereo XL, which widens the sound-field. It won’t rival full-size speakers, but we were nonetheless impressed by the amount of bass and clear, warm treble that was projected. Full bass and treble adjustments are also available, and the system was able to handle all the tracks we threw at it.
So yes: whether through SqueezeCenter or SqueezeNetwork, the Squeezebox is able to squeeze in plenty of functionality and make the whole process a breeze.
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