What better way to wake in the morning than to a bit of streaming radio? No longer limited to the few FM or AM radio stations in your area and the option to the play your own music or stream from online music sources.
There were were two devices that I had in mind when I decided that none of the local radio stations were really doing much for me. Taking into consideration that I already had a Logitech Squeezebox Classic (V3), the Logitech Squeezebox Boom seemed like the ideal candidate. It would be able to use my existing Logitech media server with all the existing local music and online music sources already present, and provide synchronisation and transfer options.
The other option that seemed like it might work as a DAB+ clock radio with line in paired with another Squeezebox Classic or a Squeezebox Touch. The need for multiple devices and the poor selection of DAB+ clock radios meant that this idea was abandoned early on.
So when the Squeebox Boom was put up for sale I jumped on board and ordered one. Another employee from my office also order one shortly before mine… which he received. But all I received was a call indicating that the last of the stock had been sold before they got to my order! So the Squeezebox Radio was last option for a self contained unit that could use the same Logitech media server install and had it’s own amplifier and speakers. The Radio also had the option for battery power and I eventually decided to buy the optional battery + remote pack.
The first step out of the box is the setup processes and this can be a little confusing. You need to have a squeezebox.com account to complete this step, even if you have no plans to use it. I highly recommend creating this account before hand so you don’t have to try and create it on the squeezebox itself.
If you have are running a local copy of Logitech media server then it will require a specific version of the firmware on the radio, which may be different to the version that the squeezebox.com service requires. This can result in some confusion about what version is needed! In my case it kept telling me it needed to upgrade to use my local Logitech media server, but what it actually mean it needed to downgrade, and that downgrade kept failing. After upgrading the local Logitech media server software version to the latest and power cycling the radio it all worked smoothly. This wouldn’t be an issue if you were not going to try and use a local instance of the Logitech media server.
On the older Squeezebox Classic you got a nice big VFD display, while on radio you get a smallish LCD in its place. The new LCD can give you more menu options and once and show cover art it is rather small and I really do look the VFD displays in the original Squeezebox Classic. One area where the extra real estate of the LCD is noticeable in particular is manipulating alarms and play lists. With a relative small size it does mean you need to be up nice and close to make sense of what it is showing.
The radio doesn’t have the sound quality or volume of the Squeezebox Classic connected to an expensive Hi-Fi system, but its reasonably decent (if mono) and perfectly suited to bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and back yard duties.
It would be interesting to compare to the sound of the Squeezebox Boom which has stereo output but physically looks like the speakers are smaller.
Even at maximum volume there’s no distortion to be heard – the sound remains very clear.
After much thought I decided to acquire the optional batter and remote pack. And despite the rather high price I am pretty happy that I did.
The battery means I can take the radio from the bedroom to the bathroom and it keeps on playing. Or I can drag it into the kitchen, or head out to the garage or wonder out to the the back yard and it keeps on playing. Sure you could take the power adaptor with you and plug it in at your destination, but that’s more work and you’d have no audio while moving between locations.
When put into standby while on battery power the radio will turn off totally after an hour to save the battery from being drained. If it remains connected to the mains then it remains in standby ready to go. When totally powered off there is a reasonably long delay (approx 20s) while it powers up.
Over time I have found myself carry the radio into the kitchen while cooking and now consider it an excellent accessory for the kitchen. So much so that I may well be tempted to buy another one to use as a dedicated kitchen unit!
A recent problem that I have experienced is that after powering off (after the one hour on standy) the radio immediately powers up again, and resume playback of whatever is was playing when turned off. This didn’t happen originally so is possibly trigger by having the alarms enabled (it should wake up when the alarm is ready to fire) and was setting the radio to resume playback whenever it is powered up. This is a combination of having the squeezebox radio set to resume playing at power on and then turning the radio off. If I turn that setting off, or if I pause playback before turning it off, then the radio correctly turns off.
The preset buttons are very handy for quickly selecting one of your favourite stations or playlists.
I have the 6 most common internet radio streams I listen to set on each of the presets and makes it a lot easier to change between stations without having to look at the screen, such as when using it in the bedroom.
Perhaps the only downside is that there are only 6, and that they can’t be selected from the remote control.
The remote has turned out to be very handy when using it as a sleep radio and/or alarm clock. It is a lot easier to operate the sleep timer, volume, menus and alarms from the little remote than tying to reach out and press the buttons on the front panel.
I also find is a bit quicker to walk through the menus using the little remote than trying to use the dial on the front panel, so if the remote is handy sometimes use that instead of the dial on the front.
The WiFi connection has been rock solid and works all around the house, outside, in the garage etc. In areas where my Samsung Galaxy S2 smart phone looses WiFi access the radio is still showing a high signal strength and still streaming fine.
Being able to use the radio as an alarm and to run it on a sleep timer at night was one of the main reasons I decided to buy the Squeezebox Radio. What I didn’t expect was just how much I would appreciate having multiple alarms, with specific days and times (anyone who uses their smart phone’s alarm functions may be familiar with this.) It is very nice not having to remember to turn the alarms on and/or off and to be able to set weekend alarms days before the weekend. And there’s an al off for those times when you on holidays and don’t want any alarms.
The alarm has been rock solid running from the local Logitech media server. Other reports suggest that this is not very reliable but most of those reports appears to be when using mysqueezebox.com. Another squeezebox owner (of the boom) reporting problems before switching to a local Logitech media server.
Back when I purchased the original Squeezebox Classic I felt the only thing wrong was how long I waited till I purchased it!
I think the same can be said of the Squeezebox Radio.
Originally it was the ability to use it as an Alarm clock that was my main interest but now find myself carry it all over the place. It’s not perfect but for anyone who already owns other Squeexebox products it is definitely a nice addition. If I didn’t already have the Squeexbox Classic and the associated Logitech media server running then I may have looked elsewhere, but with those already running it made sense to get something that fit well with the existing components.
The cost of the Radio was $USD149 and the optional battery pack and remote was $USD50 from amazon.com in June 2012.