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  1. #1
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    So, what exactly is the future of streaming audio going to be?

    Hi All

    I ask the question in this post as a slightly philosophical one and I'd really appreciate this forum's thoughts on the matter.

    I have been using my Sueezeboxes for a hair under 6 years now and I love them. In addition, there still appear to be only two viable alternatives in this market (Sonos being the other).

    I continue to hear about on-line winning this battle and I have dabbled with most of these services (Rhapsody / Pandora / Slacker / Spotify) and while each is interesting none of them solve the following problems:
    - My taste in music. Try to find "Change your mind" by Gary Numan or "Thunderbirds are Go" by MC Parker. (I'm not too sure what this says about me though.) My point is that no online library can be exhaustive.
    - Music quality. I use FLAC and, well, online isn't going to do that.
    - Ease of control. I just love iPeng and I've not seen something similar for on-line only options.
    - Whole home audio. It's so, so cool to add or remove devices at will as needed to distribute music.

    So, what are the next pretenders to the throne? What's the hardware? What's the software?

    Thanks

    PS One thing that does intrigue me is the speed of online services. They're faster at searching and playing music than my home dedicated quad-core system. How the hell does that work?

  2. #2
    Senior Member maggior's Avatar
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    With the instability of Logitech at the moment and the resulting uncertainty of the Squeezebox future, I've been wondering this myself. Take a look at my equipment list in my sig and you'll see that I've invested quite a bit in squeezeboxes.

    My fear is that the future will be general media streaming devices that do it all, but at the sacrafice of functionality for audio. Clearly everybody really only cares about video and audio is an afterthought. ;-) I don't want to suffer through waiting for the "gapless playback" feature in some new device. Or waiting for FLAC support.

    Sadly, I think the future is glum, full of DLNA devices with limited audio CODEC support that require a TV connected to them to control. Gapless playback? yeah, right.

    Here's to hopein' my squeezeboxes last a long time :-). I couldn't afford to replace my setup with Sonos devices!
    Rich
    ---------
    Setup: 2 SB3s, 4 Booms, 1 Duet, 1 Receiver, 1 Touch, iPeng on iPod Touch, SqueezeCommander, OrangeSqueeze, and SqueezePlayer on Xoom and Galaxy Player 4.2. CentOS 6.3 Server running LogitechMediaServer 7.7.2 and SqueezeSlave.
    Current library stats: 40,810 songs, 3,153 albums, 582 artists.
    http://www.last.fm/user/maggior

  3. #3
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaizen28 View Post
    there still appear to be only two viable alternatives in this market (Sonos being the other).
    Has anyone seen a good feature comparison between Squeezebox and Sonos ?

    As far as I've understood (Some of this might be incorrect because I really don't know Sonos):
    - Wireless Networking: Sonos use proprietary wireless network protocol making it more robust and easier to setup than the standard WiFi networking used by Squeezebox.
    - Format support: Both seems to have support for all common file formats
    - Online services: Both seems to have fairly good support for all premium online services
    - Need for computer: Both require a computer for playback of local music but Sonos works with UPnP and due this it works out of the box with some NAS boxes. Squeezebox Touch works with a locally attached hard drive but it isn't reliable for most users.
    - Product variants: Sonos is missing a cheap mono player but besides that Sonos have a bit more variants to make their products better fit all possible rooms. Squeezebox have the advantage of having the battery powered Radio allowing you to bring the player out in the garden without any cables.
    - Player display: Sonos don't have any display on the player they only have display on the remote. Squeezebox have display on both player and remote.
    - Audio quality: So far I haven't seen any comparison I trust, Squeezebox owners think their box sounds better and Sonos owners think their box sounds better.
    - Third party additions: Because of the open source nature of the Squeezebox software there are more third party additions for the Squeezebox.
    - Third party players: Squeezebox have third party software players for iOS and Android and also have a player for the computer. Since Sonos just communicate via UPnP you can use a generic UPnP client on iOS and Android to playback your music library in a Sonos environment.
    - Remote control: Squeezebox support IR remote control making it possible to control it with a universal remote, something that Sonos is missing. Both have iOS and Android controllers. Sonos have a dedicated graphical controller, something Squeezebox now is missing when the Duet is no longer sold. Squeezebox have better third party offerings for iOS and Android.
    - Price: Sonos is generally a little bit more expensive. Zoneplayer 90 ($349) vs Squeezebox Touch ($299) or Play:3 ($299) vs Squeezebox Radio ($179). Play:3 and Radio isn't really a fair comparison since Radio is a mono player while Play:3 is stereo, but since the Squeezebox Boom no longer is sold that's what we have to compare.
    - Future: Hard to say but from my personal perspective it feels like Sonos believe more in their products than Logitech believe in Squeezebox. On the other hand, if Logitech decides to really push their products out on the market they probably have the economical strength to do so, just look what they recently did with Revue lowering the price from $249 to $99.

    Once again, I've probably missed a lot of advantages/disadvantages of both platforms, so anyone that sees something that's missing or incorrect, please correct me.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    Lead platform developer of ickStream Music Platform - A world of music at your fingertips

    (Also developer of many plugins/applets)

  4. #4
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaizen28 View Post
    I continue to hear about on-line winning this battle and I have dabbled with most of these services (Rhapsody / Pandora / Slacker / Spotify) and while each is interesting none of them solve the following problems:
    - My taste in music. Try to find "Change your mind" by Gary Numan or "Thunderbirds are Go" by MC Parker. (I'm not too sure what this says about me though.) My point is that no online library can be exhaustive.
    - Music quality. I use FLAC and, well, online isn't going to do that.
    I believe the streaming services are here to stay for a number of reasons:
    - Most people (especially youths) find everything they like in the streaming services.
    - They are a really good way to discover new music, a lot better than those 30 seconds previews which amazon and similar sites offer.
    - The audio quality is good enough for 80% of all people.
    - Younger people are a lot more track oriented than older people who tends to prefer listening to a whole album.

    I think the long term solution for people like yourself is digital downloads (not streaming) and the reason for that is exactly what you mention:
    - Support for high audio quality.
    - Possibility to get music from different stores making it possible to find the rare music you like which isn't available in Spotify and similar services. It's pretty much similar to the current situation where you get some CD's from one store and other CD's from another store because the first one didn't have the CD you wanted.
    - You will still have access to the music after you decide to end your streaming service subscription.

    The challenge with digital downloads is DRM protection and due to this the music industry is going to continue distributing old fashion CD's for a while longer, primarily because they believe it's harder for a buyer to share a physical CD with other people than sharing a physical downloaded FLAC file. Another big reason the CD will stay is because it's easier to get people to pay for something physical (the CD) than paying for a file in the computer. Kind of similar to the hardware/software industry where it's quite easy to get someone to by a $99 hardware device but it's quite hard to get someone to buy a $99 software license.

    Due to this I think we are going to have three distributions for a long time:
    - Physical media
    - File downloads
    - Streaming

    If people were willing to pay for downloaded files and the music industry could overcome their fear for piracy the physical media could become obsolete a lot faster, but this process seems to go very slow so I don't think it will disappear anytime soon.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    Lead platform developer of ickStream Music Platform - A world of music at your fingertips

    (Also developer of many plugins/applets)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by erland View Post
    Has anyone seen a good feature comparison between Squeezebox and Sonos ?
    I think you've covered most of the points. You could do a search on the slimdevices and sonos forums for a comparison I did about 5 years ago; there have obviously been some changes, but the basics remain the same. I've been using both platforms ever since, but I find that I use my SqueezeBoxen a lot more.

    Some major advantages of each platform as I see them:

    Sonos advantages:
    1) Easier to setup and operate for newbies and non-techy types. It really does just work.
    2) More robust networking because of their peer to peer mesh networking.
    3) Rock solid multi-player synchronization.
    4) Music access is over SMB, so it works well with most OSs and NASs. It does use UPnP for it's own communication, and a Zone Player can be used as a UPnP renderer too, but that's not how it accesses external media.
    5) Everyone makes a big deal about the cost. But if you think about it, each ZP90 zone player is only $50 more than an SBTouch if you have an Android or iOS Device to control it with. Of course you will need to add the $50 bridge if your first Zone Player is away from a wired connection.

    Squeezebox advantages:
    1) Ability to handle higher than 44.1 KHz and 16 bit files with many of the models. I increasingly have more of this material, so it works well for me.
    2) Display on player for most models.
    3) The responsiveness of an IR remote for most models
    4) Ability to configure menus easily, and sort music by multiple criteria. Sort by newly added music is something I use very frequently.
    5) Plugins! MusicIP and the Spicefly SugarCube plugins are in themselves worth the price of entry.

  6. #6
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikhil View Post
    I've been using both platforms ever since, but I find that I use my SqueezeBoxen a lot more.
    How does the browsing on Sonos work, does it only allow you to browse by music folder or does it have same possibilities as Squeezebox to browse "by artists", "by genre", "by year" ? Is it only the sorting possibilities that differs compared to Squeezebox ?

    Have you compared the audio quality between Squeezebox and Sonos ?
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    Lead platform developer of ickStream Music Platform - A world of music at your fingertips

    (Also developer of many plugins/applets)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by erland View Post
    How does the browsing on Sonos work, does it only allow you to browse by music folder or does it have same possibilities as Squeezebox to browse "by artists", "by genre", "by year" ? Is it only the sorting possibilities that differs compared to Squeezebox ?
    The menus are not configurable and options available are Search, Artists, Contributing Artists, Albums, Composers, Genres, Tracks, Playlists and Folders.

    Have you compared the audio quality between Squeezebox and Sonos ?
    Using the analogue outputs I think the SB2 sounded a little bit better than my ZP80, but not hugely better. I haven't recently done a comparison with the Touch in analogue output mode. I use the digital outs to feed to a Cyrus DAC-X and a TacT S2150XDM Amplifier. In a digital out usage scenario, using the same source material, I seriously doubt that there is a reproducible difference between Sonos and SqueezeBox that will hold up to blind testing, though in my early listening I felt that the SB2 was very marginally better, it was probably not real. Of course the ability of newer SqueezeBoxen to used higher resolution files should give them an advantage. One of these days I will do a side by side with my SB2, Touch and ZP80 from both analogue and digital outputs.

    One thing I missed in my previous post is that SqueezeBox handles ReplayGain tags much better and gives users much more control over how the tags are utilized.
    Last edited by Nikhil; 2011-08-04 at 02:10.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bluegaspode's Avatar
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    When you point a Sonos to a new SMB folder - is the user aware of some scanning process as well (i.e. some "please wait until I can show you all artists") ?

    Without scanning (on I guess a rather slow SMB connection) how would they be able to fill their menus?
    Did you know: SqueezePlayer will stream all your music to your Android device. Take your music everywhere!
    Remote Control + Streaming to your iPad? Squeezebox + iPad = SqueezePad
    Want to see a Weather Forecast on your Radio/Touch/Controller ? => why not try my Weather Forecast Applet
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  9. #9
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    I think the initial question has been answered pretty good. So I will continue the slightly off topic comparison between Sonos and SB.

    I think one of the biggest differences is that Sonos is pretty much plug'n'play that just works out of the box for most people. You can hardly say the same about Squeezeboxen.

    On the negative side, Sonos has a limit on the size of the library supported. Around 65.000 tracks, depending on how they're tagged.

    I must say it is not getting any easier to recommend SB over Sonos especially now that they released the small (and almost affordable) Play:3. Still SB is more affordable and flexible. But at what cost?

    Other than that I think Erlands comparison sums it up pretty well.

    Edit: Just came to think on one very important missing feature of Sonos: "New music" Bummer.
    BR Mogens

    2 Radios (1 battery), 2 Controllers, 2 Receivers, SqueezeCommander, OrangeSqueeze and SqueezePlayer on Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

  10. #10
    Just a silly question being newbie using SQ touch..What will happen if worst come worst Logitech people shutdown their SQ support..will we able to play Internet radio OR PC music with the server installed on our PC or SQ touch (tiny sbs)..?
    I am asking this question as we have already lost money in worldspace radio..So is it possible to use SQ touch lifetime without any further support ??

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