Test: Logitech Squeezebox Boom – Wi-FiPlanet.com
By Joseph Moran
January 21, 2009
For the same price as the original Squeezebox, users can get the Boom ($ 299) and have the ability to wirelessly stream high-quality digital sound to anywhere in the home, instead of having to s ” integrate into an existing A / V configuration.
Logitech Squeezebox Boom
Price: $ 299.99
Advantages: Integrated amplifier and speakers; simple configuration; great alarm clock; SqueezeNetwork makes it easy to find and distribute “network-based material”
The inconvenients: Gi-standard power supply; no audio outputs except the subwoofer; complex menus take time to master
For several years now, the Logitech Squeezebox (formerly from Slim Devices) has been a great way to stream digital audio, over a home Wi-Fi network, to a room without a PC. But the catch, if you can call it that, is the Squeezebox’s lack of built-in amplifier or speakers, because without these components placement is limited to rooms with existing A / V equipment, unless you won’t be prepared to deal with the added expense and clutter of a separate set of powered speakers.
Logitech’s newest $ 299 Squeeze Boom solves that dilemma: it retains everything that made the original Squeezebox great, while adding the missing amp and speakers so you can place the unit just about anywhere. wherever you want.
Physical design and functionality
While not as slender as its ancestor, the five-pound Boom measures approximately 13 “x 5” x 4 “(WHD), which is compact enough to fit in any space except the tightest. – The Boom’s stereo speakers are 3 inch woofers and ¾ inch tweeters, covered in metal instead of mesh fabric and powered by a 30 watt amplifier. The Boom’s power adapter is external and extremely bulky, as such. point that it will occupy the space of two or even three outlets on many power strips; putting the brick in the middle of the cable rather than at the end of the socket would have been preferable.?>
A large rotary knob reminiscent of the volume knob on most A / V receivers dominates the controls below the Boom display. On the Boom, however, the button is used to navigate menus while the push buttons handle volume and other basic functions, such as play, pause, presets, etc. On the back of the Boom you’ll find a line-in jack for connecting an external source like an iPod, another for headphones or a subwoofer (none are included) and a good old-fashioned Ethernet jack that you can use Wi-Fi instead.
The Boom comes with a small remote (3 ½ inches long) that mimics most of the controls on the front of the unit. An internal magnet allows you to easily attach the remote to objects, such as the refrigerator or a bedside lamp, as well as an indent above the Boom itself. We also love that the control slides open easily for replacement of the small watch-style battery – no tools, fingernails, or extraordinary effort required.
Connecting the Squeezebox to a wireless network was extremely easy. You go through a network setup wizard by pressing and turning the aforementioned control knob. Using the button to scroll through the characters makes entering a long wireless encryption key relatively easy, if not quick.
The Squeezebox is a native 802.11g device that supports WPA and WPA2 encryption; we had no difficulty connecting it to a Netgear 802.11n router configured for WPA2-PSK. When Squeezebox is online, it automatically downloads the latest firmware.
Once the Boom is operational, you can connect it to one of the two sources of audio equipment.
The first is Logitech’s SqueezeNetwork, which lets you access a wealth of content delivered over the Internet. You can visit www.squeezenetwork.com to create a free account (using a PIN provided by the Boom). The SqueezeNetwork website is a one-stop-shop for finding online content to stream on the Boom. You can choose from an extensive list of internet radio stations, as well as free podcasts and music services, such as Pandora and Slacker.
When you find things you like, you can add them to a playlist or assign them to one of six “favorite” locations that correspond to the preset buttons on the Boom’s front panel. If you want to listen to something that is not on the SqueezeNetwork menu, you can make it a favorite by providing the URL.
The SqueezeNetwork will also allow you to configure the Boom to stream music from paid services, such as Rhapsody and Sirius. Although you must be a subscriber to access paid services, you can sign up for 30-day free trials from SqueezeNetwork.
When connected to SqueezeNetwork, the Boom operates completely independent of a PC. If you also want the ability to stream your own personal music collection through the Boom, you can do so with Logitech’s SqueezeCenter media server software (formerly known as SlimServer). SqueezeCenter can be downloaded for free from the SqueezeNetwork site and is available in Windows, Mac or Linux versions.
When we installed SqueezeCenter on a Vista PC, it detected iTunes on the system and integrated with it, so the music library was accessible from the Boom. The Boom supports virtually all major audio file formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis (including Apple and WMA lossless formats). Like just about all streaming devices, the Boom cannot play songs that are overloaded with copy protection, whether purchased from iTunes or other music stores. Likewise, playlists containing copy-protected songs cannot be accessed through the Boom. (This makes us appreciate the DRM-free Amazon MP3 and iTunes Plus tracks in our library even more.)
Although SqueezeCenter software runs on your PC, like SqueezeNetwork, it is configured through a web browser. From the SqueezeCenter user interface, you can browse and search your music library, set up playlists, and directly manipulate the Boom to change what’s playing, adjust volume, and more.
Ease of use and sound quality
Using the Boom isn’t as easy as setting it up, at least not at first. The Boom’s expansive menu system can initially feel quite labyrinthine when trying to navigate through the available content via the remote or onboard controls. Building playlists in advance from a PC helps, and navigating the Boom’s menus becomes easier as you get more familiar with getting lost in the menus (we wish there were some one on the Boom itself).
Another thing you can do to make it easier to navigate through the menu is to narrow it down. Via the SqueezeCenter, you can select the menu options you want to make visible. From SqueezeCenter or the remote, you can adjust a range of Boom options, including audio and on-screen text presentation (for example, font size and how and whether the text scrolls).
To our (admittedly non-audiophile) ears the sound quality of the Boom was very good, at least as good as the moderately priced stereo speaker set we connected to a PC (coincidentally also made by Logitech) . Unless you add a subwoofer, the Boom won’t deliver powerful bass (the kind you can feel as much as you hear), but it still handles rich, full sound once you tweak the settings a bit. bass and treble. The Boom packs enough oomph to be easily heard in a decently sized room, and as long as you don’t crank up the volume past around 85%, it manages to remain distortion-free.
Since the Boom looks like one in a way, it’s no surprise that it can function as an alarm clock, and highly customizable at that. From the SqueezeCenter software or the remote, you can set up different alarms for each day of the week and customize the alarm characteristics, such as sound duration and snooze duration (there’s a large snooze button above the Boom, as well as one on the remote).
Each alarm can be assigned its own playlist, a short musical sample or an actual sound effect. There are dozens of effects to choose from, so if you like waking up to a crackling fire, thunderstorm, or city traffic, you can. (The sound effects of the Boom can also be used whenever you tire of music or crave a moment of zen.) The Boom also has a sleep timer, which can be set to turn off the device after 15 to 90 minutes, or at the end of the song currently playing.
The Boom’s $ 299 price tag is the same as the original, and while you might have to ditch some things with the Boom, like audio outputs and some display screens, it’s a small price to pay if you want to. Stream high-quality digital audio to a nightstand or kitchen counter instead of having to integrate it into an existing A / V setup.
Joseph Moran is a seasoned product critic and frequent contributor to Wi-Fi Planet.