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  1. #1
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    Community Funded Squeezebox Replacement - Would you be interested?

    Hello,
    With all of the recent developments with Logitech and the end of the squeezebox line I feel as this community has been unfairly ignored. This community of audiophiles, software developers, engineers, DIY builders, and lovers of music is very strong. Many of you have been users of the squeezebox products since slimdevices. With Triode's EDO and squeezelite developments, the community behind Vortexbox (Agillis), Erland, Pippin, and all other developers/groups and enthusiasts that dedicate all of their free time to this product, I have been thinking we should start a crowd (community) funded product similar to the Olive One to develop and build a squeezebox replacement.

    Sure, the Pi, Pogoplug and other hardware have bits and pieces that we can hack into a working player but it is NOT what we really want or need. I would say as a community, this forum has more experience and insight into what the next product should look like than any other up and coming product (Olive One). We not only have ideas, but users that are willing to invest time and effort for no other reason then to better an already wonderful product.

    So my question to everyone is simple......if there was a community funded project, would you invest your time? Would you invest monetarily? We all have different strengths and as a community I think we could really design one hell of a product.

    Maybe I am wrong, but I truly do feel other users want to see this continue. If you do, please post what you would be willing to contribute. Personally I would be willing to help in anyway possible. I am an entrepreneur and software developer by day and DIY audiophile lover by night.

    --Dustin
    Last edited by dustinsterk; 2013-01-18 at 20:11.

  2. #2
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    I just can't imagine anyone willing to volunteer that much time and energy into building such a thing without realizing some monetary compensation. You're talking about something _way_ above and beyond the (albeit very impressive) software efforts put forth by third party software developers. System design, circuit board layout, prototyping... wow. I don't see anyone doing that for grins. And it's not really something that 100 people can pitch in on, even if they all had the skills. There probably aren't more than one or two people remaining with an interest in Squeezebox who actually have the ability to do the system and circuit board design necessary to create a real replacement.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJZolx View Post
    I just can't imagine anyone willing to volunteer that much time and energy into building such a thing without realizing some monetary compensation. You're talking about something _way_ above and beyond the (albeit very impressive) software efforts put forth by third party software developers. System design, circuit board layout, prototyping... wow. I don't see anyone doing that for grins. And it's not really something that 100 people can pitch in on, even if they all had the skills. There probably aren't more than one or two people remaining with an interest in Squeezebox who actually have the ability to do the system and circuit board design necessary to create a real replacement.
    I do agree that without financial compensation some may say whats the point. I also agree that there are a limited few that have the background to tackle such a task. But when I look at all the talent here and other DIY sites (head-fi, diytube, diyaudio, diyforums, etc) I know we could find the resources to put something together.

    I guess a better question would be does anyone have interest in such a venture?

  4. #4
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    For any developers or hardware engineers with proven previous experience in these areas who are really serious/interested about doing something like this, I would also encourage you to join the private developers mailing list which we setup earlier:
    http://forums.slimdevices.com/showth...er-discussions
    Reason simply being that some things like this is going be easier to discuss in a smaller group than in a public forum.

    The mailing list will be limited to those who in some way or another have shown what they can accomplish related to Squeezebox, typically this means people who have developed plugins/applets or third party hardware solutions. At this stage it's not for people who can just help testing or provide feedback.

    There is currently no community effort going on in this mailing list, I'm mainly just trying to get people who can do something and is willing to do it to join it so we have a more private place to discuss it in more detail.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
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    If you like to encourage future presence on this forum and/or third party plugin/applet development, consider purchasing some plugins)

    Interested in the future of music streaming ? ickStream - A world of music at your fingertips.

  5. #5
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJZolx View Post
    I just can't imagine anyone willing to volunteer that much time and energy into building such a thing without realizing some monetary compensation. You're talking about something _way_ above and beyond the (albeit very impressive) software efforts put forth by third party software developers. System design, circuit board layout, prototyping... wow. I don't see anyone doing that for grins. And it's not really something that 100 people can pitch in on, even if they all had the skills. There probably aren't more than one or two people remaining with an interest in Squeezebox who actually have the ability to do the system and circuit board design necessary to create a real replacement.
    For a purely software project done on the spare time it would have to be at least 3-4 persons who all have the architecture/design skills and not just simple coding skills. It's one thing to provide a patch or edit a source code file, it's a completely different thing to architect/design a new system from a blank sheet of paper.
    For a hardware project I imagine that you would have to add a few additional people to handle that part, one would be a minimum but for long time survival that part would probably also require 2-4 people if it's done on the spare time.
    On top of this you would have to have some testers but those are easy to find around here, the challenge is just to make them to structured testing and not just random testing all over the place.

    It can't be a lot more people than this because then it gets too crowded and the people who know what to do end up spending the time trying to explain to other people what to do and how to do it.
    It can't be less people if it's done as a spare time project because then the project will halt when the family situation changes for one of the persons and he/she no longer can spend time on the project, I have seen exactly this issue in the SMD project where we were 3 core contributors and that was enough as long as we all had enough spare time, when one disappeared everything more or less halted. If it's a full time project you can have less people but not in a spare time project which people can maximum spend 10 hours/week on.

    I also believe it needs to be a company behind it for it to work on longer terms, doesn't have to be an existing company, can be a new one, but there needs to be a business aspect else it will never survive on longer terms. Most people enjoy to contribute for free a few years but eventually (with a few exceptions) most are eventually going to want some kind of continuous economical compensation if they need to offer all their spare time for the project. Some are even only going to want to continue working on it long term if they can have it has their day job.

    I'm fairly sure there are enough people with the right skills in this community to create something new. There isn't enough remaining if you purely look at those who have done plugins/applets and third party hardware packaging, but I've realized that there are a lot of people lurking around here who have a lot of experience from their day jobs even if they have never done any spare time work related to Squeezebox to show their abilities. The question is just how to attract them to do something on their spare time and if they have the ability/willingness to work together as a team.

    The hardest people to find around here seems to be people with non technical skills, like graphical design and drawing, and that's also something that's definitely needed if you want to accomplish a consumer product and not just a DIY project.

    All this makes me think that it's not unrealistic at all that something new is going to be released from someone in this community, the question is more about when it will happen, who will be part of it and if it will be released through a company or community effort. I also know there are a companies doing products in this market segment who wants to take a part of the cake Logitech has left behind. So overall, I think the next 6-12 months might be pretty interested in the music streaming market, I just hope that Sonos doesn't get too strong so it will be too hard for someone else to establish a new platform.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
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    If you like to encourage future presence on this forum and/or third party plugin/applet development, consider purchasing some plugins)

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Mnyb's Avatar
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    You may need some CAD skills prototyping and design skills for a product .

    Prototype can lurk in an over the counter generic box or a shoebox (shoebox lid can work as temporary circiut board to just punch holes for component legs ) , but to actually sell it to more than 100 people it has to be cosmetically acceptable . Imo the SB3 is a classic it have never looked better , transporter is ok so but it align a little bit to audiophile design aesthetic (if something looks like a steam powered difference engine with computer control it sells in those quarters ) .SB2 looks like a modem . Touch is ok as it resembles SB3 but it could improve a bit .

    Prototype boards etched at home is one thing a multilayer smd pcb thats possible to manufascture probably demands skills and software i havenĺt heard of but sure there are such people here , there sure is some kind of file you send to chines plant and order a test batch of 10000 boards ,just joking but there probably is challenge to have some scale of economics in small series .

    And tight control of the design spec who should be detailed and in control , the audiophiles would discuss dac chips until the end of days

    But on the positive side it could have some unique design specifics , for example fpga based filters the forum has such a designer (hello John ) with uncomercial tweaks like headromm for intersample overs (no specman ship ) .

    It could also build heavilly on squeezeplay fitting it to more memory and cpu and have some if its bugs fixed and added flexibility .

    I foresee that a debate would be screen or no screen . I'm for no screen in the first "community squeezebox" as it removes all design headaches of an UI and removes components that probably are cheap and common in large scale products like phones but I doubt the prices are any good if you want 200pcs for a small null series .
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Main hifi: Touch + CIA PS +MeridianG68J MeridianHD621 MeridianG98DH 2 x MeridianDSP5200 MeridianDSP5200HC 2 xMeridianDSP3100 +Rel Stadium 3 sub.
    Bedroom/Office: Boom
    Kitchen: Touch + powered Fostex PM0.4
    Misc use: Radio (with battery)
    iPad1 with iPengHD & SqueezePad
    (in storage SB3, reciever ,controller )
    server HP proliant micro server N36L with ClearOS Linux

    http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

  7. #7
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    If you're an audiophile looking for highest sound quality, an external async USB DAC will give you better fidelity than an internal one in anything other than a very expensive Squeezebox replacement. So, without a screen and a touch and/or IR user interface, what real need is there for a replacement, when just about any computer with a USB port can today function as Squeezebox?

    And if you're not an audiophile, a computer with onboard sound or sound card will suffice. If you accept that a device without user I/O is sufficient, then there's little need for a true Squeezebox. Except perhaps for better synching of zone players in a multi-zone system. However, this also requires that such devices be relatively inexpensive, which will be an almost impossible goal for a community project that won't sell more than a couple hundred units.

    I've said in the past that an established audio company might be a good candidate for producing a Squeezebox capable player. Probably the biggest obstacle to that, however, is the current state of the server software and the astronomical costs of both supporting it and of maintaining it.

    Bottom line: It's just not going to happen, no matter how you slice it.

  8. #8
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    I'm not sure whether we can turn this into a community product, but my personal view is that an effective Squeezebox replacement for the community can be made from a small existing arm based device + an external usb dac. This means all the audio engineering can be part of the dac and you can spend from $5 to $5000 based on your preference....

    The device itself is probably based on something already available such as an android stick, raspberry pi or other such device - perhaps we need to settle on one or a small number of recommended devices and package for them. The one thing that most devices have now with hdmi, so a user interface using hdmi + control over that is probably required/sensible. This is not a mass market consumer product, but it gets us to a very viable solution for community enthusiasts... (and focusses much of the effort on software and packaging rather than hardware design and the necessary volumes this brings)

    Squeezelite part of my steps in this direction. I'd like to look at UI solutions, perhaps integration with XBMC or alternative user interfaces hdmi - any takers?

  9. #9
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJZolx View Post
    I've said in the past that an established audio company might be a good candidate for producing a Squeezebox capable player. Probably the biggest obstacle to that, however, is the current state of the server software and the astronomical costs of both supporting it and of maintaining it.
    Is the maintenance cost really that bad ?
    How many full time developers have Logitech had during the last 2-3 years working with maintenance that really had to be done ?
    To me it kind of feels like most of the work during last years have either been various kind of refactoring and Revue related stuff which was doomed before it started. Looking back two years in time, it feels like there have been less than one full time developer working on the server in average. There were obviously a bit more during development of the Touch, but it's pretty normal that more resources is needed when you develop a new product which requires big changes.

    SBS 7.5.3 is about 2 years old, what "must have" functionality has been done in the server after that ?
    My feeling is the cost isn't really about things that had to be done, it's more related to bad management and prioritization.
    Are you sure the UPnP server software of your choice required less maintenance and support during the last two years ?

    Support is another matter, but I've got the feeling that this community has handled a lot of support issues and only a few people have actually taken the time to call the official Logitech support even though we have tried to push more people to do it during the last years.

    However, generally I agree that the server software probably don't have a future outside Logitech, but Logitech could still maintain the server and license the ability for third parties to produce players. This will of course not happen because Logitech is really a hardware company and not a software company, so it probably never really made sense to them to let third parties produce the hardware.
    Last edited by erland; 2013-01-19 at 12:13.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
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    If you like to encourage future presence on this forum and/or third party plugin/applet development, consider purchasing some plugins)

    Interested in the future of music streaming ? ickStream - A world of music at your fingertips.

  10. #10
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJZolx View Post
    Bottom line: It's just not going to happen, no matter how you slice it.
    Depends on what you mean with Squeezebox replacement.

    1. DIY products is/will happen, we are already seeing this now, but for these we are likely taking about very small volumes, maybe a few hundred devices or something similar. Someone might try to package one pre-installed, but it's unlikely to get any volumes as long as it isn't packaged in a nice case with physical design suitable for the living room.

    2. Squeezebox compatible hardware players in a consumer attractive package is unlikely to happen, mainly because nobody is maintaining the server and Logitech will likely block such player from mysqueezebox.com as soon as it has enough volumes to increase the load on mysqueezebox.com. On top of this such player can't advertize support for online streaming services without an agreement with Logitech because Logitech might shutdown mysqueezebox.com in two years and I would be really surprised if they would be interested in license mysqueezebox.com usage to a third party player provider.

    3. Consumer attractive players with similar functionality as Squeezebox but not compatible with the Squeezebox ecosystem is also likely going to happen, if there is a need and people are willing to pay, someone will usually provide a suitable product, that's how the market works, it's just a matter of time.

    So basically if someone in the community wants to do something, it needs to be alternative 1 or 3, where 1 will be useful for geeks/enthusiasts but not for the masses.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    (Developer of many plugins/applets (both free and commercial).
    If you like to encourage future presence on this forum and/or third party plugin/applet development, consider purchasing some plugins)

    Interested in the future of music streaming ? ickStream - A world of music at your fingertips.

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