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View Full Version : New Product Idea: Integrated Amplifier



dlashof
2006-01-21, 19:30
I have been using a first generation squeezebox and had planned to add additional units for whole house stereo. In the interim I have just been moving my ipod around. The sound quality is not quite as good, but its hard to justify the cost of a squeeze box when you still need a seperate computer/storage device and stereo receiver. Why not integrate SqueezeBox technology into a full powered stereo receiver. This would eliminate the need for seperate digital and analog outputs. Just attach good speakers and your ready to go. I have been expecting to see a variety of internet enabled stereo receivers for a few years and have been surprised that these products don't seem to be on the market. Or am I missing them?
-DL

Kyle
2006-01-21, 19:58
Probably too many different levels of amplifier quality for a small company like Slim Devices to make that move. Now, a large amp/receiver manufacturer could license the technology and integrate it into their products -- from low end to high end, but I doubt Slim has the resources to do it themselves at this point.

An alternative for you would be powered speakers. There are some very high-quality ones on the market, depending on how much you want to spend. The amp has gotta be somewhere, it might as well be the speakers as opposed to the Squeezebox.

Devices incorporating many of the features of the Squeezebox are beginning to hit the market. Some have their own storage, as well. Sonos, Roku, Yamaha and Cambridge Audio come to mind. Right now, the technology is in its infancy and seems to be attracting mostly techies and audiophiles. Expect it to become more mainstream as the household pc becomes a true full-function media server. That was a recurring theme at the recent Consumer Electronics Show.

dlashof
2006-01-22, 10:57
Fair point. I'm vaguely aware of some of the high end systems costing >$1000, but my sense is that the market for that is quite limited. Apple has demonstrated that there is a huge market for digital music systems if you make them user friendly and hit the right price point. I think the Slim user interface is great. Picking the right ripping format is still a big mystery for most newbies, but that could be solved by integrating ripping software into slimserver. If it supported FLAC and mp3 they could make everyone happy. Then slim technology integrated into a consumer grade receiver, say at a $350-$450 price point could take off the way ipods have imho.
-DL

water
2006-01-22, 11:52
it should be a fairly capable task to make a sb version an integrated t-amp :

- http://www.tnt-audio.com/ampli/t-amp_e.html
- http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/audio/6cd8/

:water

stinkingpig
2006-01-22, 12:22
dlashof wrote:
> Fair point. I'm vaguely aware of some of the high end systems costing
>
>> $1000, but my sense is that the market for that is quite limited.
>>
> Apple has demonstrated that there is a huge market for digital music
> systems if you make them user friendly and hit the right price point. I
> think the Slim user interface is great. Picking the right ripping format
> is still a big mystery for most newbies, but that could be solved by
> integrating ripping software into slimserver. If it supported FLAC and
> mp3 they could make everyone happy. Then slim technology integrated
> into a consumer grade receiver, say at a $350-$450 price point could
> take off the way ipods have imho.
>

Slim Devices also offers ripping service, so people can just ship the
box of CDs off and get professionally ripped and tagged files back.
There are other ripping services out there which do similar, STFW.

--
Jack at Monkeynoodle dot Org: It's a Scientific Venture...
Riding the Emergency Third Rail Power Trip Since 1996

stinkingpig
2006-01-22, 12:31
dlashof wrote:
> Fair point. I'm vaguely aware of some of the high end systems costing
>
>> $1000, but my sense is that the market for that is quite limited.
>>
> Apple has demonstrated that there is a huge market for digital music
> systems if you make them user friendly and hit the right price point. I
> think the Slim user interface is great. Picking the right ripping format
> is still a big mystery for most newbies, but that could be solved by
> integrating ripping software into slimserver. If it supported FLAC and
> mp3 they could make everyone happy. Then slim technology integrated
> into a consumer grade receiver, say at a $350-$450 price point could
> take off the way ipods have imho.
> -DL
>

What makes a product take off, the product quality or the marketing
quality or both? Both seems to be the obvious answer. My iRiver iHP-120
is far easier to put music onto and listen to music from than any
iPod/iTunes combo, and has several useful features like FM tuning and
voice recording. Before you say those are useless features, note that
they have proven to be profitable as hardware add-ons to the iPod. And
yet the iRiver market share is about 2 points past diddly-squat. The
iPod is a gorgeously designed piece of hardware, and the attention Apple
didn't put into features went into anti-aliased fonts and cool state
transitions.

Lesson here? Feature set, ease-of-use, market awareness, and UI polish
are all components of the product's success. So far Slim Devices has
done very well on all fronts, so let's assume they'll keep doing so :)

--
Jack at Monkeynoodle dot Org: It's a Scientific Venture...
Riding the Emergency Third Rail Power Trip Since 1996

Skunk
2006-01-22, 16:47
So far Slim Devices has
done very well on all fronts, so let's assume they'll keep doing so :)

ehh. I could rebrand a SB and 770 type device, and add an interface that's worthwhile to non-geeks, retailing for $1,000+. The poorly made point is- the interface is worth nearly as much as the hardware.

If the interface is where the difference in perceived quality between an ipod and a SB comes from- slim doesn't realize this. As much as I love them for it, they're stuck on their dominance of the 'techno-phile' niche.

EDIT: I think we're in agreement.

Bart
2006-01-23, 03:51
I think the Slim user interface is great

I don't. I think player/remote interface is good although the remote design is not (too small and symmetrical, no backlight, overloaded buttons), while the web interface is unusable (far too slow and mouse-driven)

Skunk
2006-01-23, 07:03
while the web interface is unusable (far too slow and mouse-driven)

The web interface works fine on localhost for me, or at the desktop away from the server. Maybe it's your network or the amount of titles? (I only have 1000 songs). Set your server to not refresh so often in Server Settings... (default is 30sec)

FWIW, all the skins leave something to be desired. HTML is about the least attractive of things to interact with at a user level, not to mention that most of the skins seem optimized for IE.

As stinkypig mentioned, transitions etc are nice, and unfortunately macromedia flash is the only way to make a RIA that people will 'like'. There are lots of white papers out there on the subject.

What was the alternative to mouse driven, telepathy? It does work on touch screens too, and there is a touch skin available...

Bart
2006-01-23, 07:48
What was the alternative to mouse driven, telepathy?
Keyboard hotkeys and consistent tabbing?

Skunk
2006-01-23, 11:21
Keyboard hotkeys and consistent tabbing?

I find touching the screen more convenient personally.

dean
2006-01-23, 12:40
On Jan 23, 2006, at 2:51 AM, Bart wrote:

>
> dlashof Wrote:
>> I think the Slim user interface is great
>>
> I don't. I think player/remote interface is good although the remote
> design is not (too small and symmetrical, no backlight, overloaded
> buttons)

Bart, can you elaborate on how you'd like the remote improved?

octavian
2006-01-23, 13:57
In the interim I have just been moving my ipod around. The sound quality is not quite as good, but its hard to justify the cost of a squeeze box when you still need a seperate computer/storage device and stereo receiver. -DL

The quality from an iPod is more than not quite as good, its rubbish, no comparison.

Bart
2006-01-23, 14:00
Bart, can you elaborate on how you'd like the remote improved?
I sort of like the remote, because it is small and not overendowed with buttons like many remotes. However I think it could be improved by making it less symmetrical and making the buttons slightly larger and backlit. The lack of symmetry seems important because people with limited vision, or anyone using the remote in the dark, could pick it up and know by feel which way up it is and where to find the buttons they need. I know that when I pick up the remote for my amplifier I will immediately be able to use it without looking at it, I can't say the same for the Squeezebox remote. I realise that everyone uses their Squeezebox in different ways and that not everyone uses it in dimmly lit rooms, but a lot of people do, and a lot of people have limited vision, so backlit buttons would be useful.
Having said that I like the limited number of buttons on the remote I can hardly complain about the overloading! In general it works well, but having "Add" and "Play" do different things depending on where you are and how long you press it is just confusing when you first encounter it (and when I show it to a friend) I know I can re-map the buttons (I don't use "Shuffle" or "Repeat", so I may do that)
I'm not complaining - I think my Squeezeboxes are fantastic, but I do notice how much more work it is to use a remote that you need to look at to use.
(maybe something along the lines of http://k-tai.impress.co.jp/cda/article/showcase_top/21845.html)?

Michaelwagner
2006-01-23, 17:43
Bart, can you elaborate on how you'd like the remote improved?
Anyone who had an Audiotron says, inevitably, at this point, "the knob".

I had a remote a few years back, for a VCR, I think, that had a wheel like a wheelmouse on it. It was great too. So a wheel would be good.

paulcolley
2006-01-24, 07:10
I have a similar problem --- about half the songs in my collection won't
play since I moved them to a USB drive (Red Hat Linux, Windows file system
(not FAT, I forget the name), read-only). I can't figure out a difference
between those that will work and those that don't (even within the same
album), and sometimes songs start or stop working. A rescan does not change
anything for me.

The machine is due to be replaced so I haven't worked too hard on resolving
the problem.

On 1/23/06, octavian <octavian.223vmb (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:
>
>
> Anyone know why I keep getting getting 'file not found', 'empty'
> messages not just on new just added songs but songs that have been
> played before OK. It also happens while the song is playing, it will
> just stop.
>
> The problem is fixed if I clear and rescan. But I'm having to do this
> every 2 days.
> MAC OSX 10.4.4.
>
>

superbad
2006-01-24, 12:15
Bart, can you elaborate on how you'd like the remote improved?

I'm not Bart, but I would pay extra for a Sonos-style remote. I love my Squeezebox, but that is a very seductive feature from Sonos. And yes, I know I can do sort of the same thing with a PDA or PSP or Nokia, but it would still have the pokey web interface and (even worse) a long start-up lag. An instant-on, responsive, non-IR remote with a screen and possibly some kind of click wheel would be worth $200-300 to me. And if I had that, I could probably live without the VFD on the box itself if that helps.

CardinalFang
2006-01-24, 12:56
I'm not Bart, but I would pay extra for a Sonos-style remote. I love my Squeezebox, but that is a very seductive feature from Sonos. And yes, I know I can do sort of the same thing with a PDA or PSP or Nokia, but it would still have the pokey web interface and (even worse) a long start-up lag. An instant-on, responsive, non-IR remote with a screen and possibly some kind of click wheel would be worth $200-300 to me. And if I had that, I could probably live without the VFD on the box itself if that helps.

ditto for me. I'd love a graphical remote so I could browse album art when picking music. What might work is a native app for Windows PDAs so that you could talk to SlimServer directly using IR through the SB instead of going through the slow web interface.

Does the SS API extend to allowing downloading of album art? Is there an IR API that lets you talk direct to the Server? What would be good would be a pass through call that just takes IR data and pushes it straight through to the server so that you can use the SB as a WiFi/IR bridge. You wouldn't need massive changes to the firmware then, just the bridging code.

Paul

Michaelwagner
2006-01-24, 13:12
Does the SS API extend to allowing downloading of album art?
There is a direct way to serve the art of the currently playing album.

For the more general case, I'm not sure.

mherger
2006-01-24, 13:32
> There is a direct way to serve the art of the currently playing album.
> For the more general case, I'm not sure.

what about the following?

http://slimserver:9000/music/[albumid]/thumb.jpg
http://slimserver:9000/music/[albumid]/cover.jpg

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------
Help translate SlimServer by using the
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mherger
2006-01-24, 13:33
> ditto for me. I'd love a graphical remote so I could browse album art
> when picking music. What might work is a native app for Windows PDAs so
> that you could talk to SlimServer directly using IR through the SB
> instead of going through the slow web interface.

There's a CLI for the slimserver which is more appropriate for that use
than sending IR signals.

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------
Help translate SlimServer by using the
StringEditor Plugin (http://www.herger.net/slim/)

Michaelwagner
2006-01-24, 14:47
There's a CLI for the slimserver which is more appropriate
CLI = Command Language Interface
and that's exactly what it's for.

Michaelwagner
2006-01-24, 14:48
what about the following?

http://slimserver:9000/music/[albumid]/thumb.jpg
http://slimserver:9000/music/[albumid]/cover.jpg


Michael:

Are you saying this works now, or are you suggesting that for the future?

kdf
2006-01-24, 14:56
Quoting Michaelwagner <Michaelwagner.225sdb (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>:

>
> mherger Wrote:
>> what about the following?
>>
>> http://slimserver:9000/music/[albumid]/thumb.jpg
>> http://slimserver:9000/music/[albumid]/cover.jpg
>>
>
> Michael:
>
> Are you saying this works now, or are you suggesting that for the
> future?

those urls are exactly what is being used now for all of the artwork in
the web interface. check the properties on any of the artwork images.

-kdf

kdf
2006-01-24, 15:01
Quoting Michaelwagner <Michaelwagner.225sdb (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>:

>
> mherger Wrote:
>> There's a CLI for the slimserver which is more appropriate
> CLI = Command Language Interface

I've always thought it was Command Line Interface.
It is a bit of a misnomer, since its good for anything that can send
over a telnet link. Fred has done a great job making sure that just
about anything you can do in slimserver, is handled by the CLI. Any
application could have nearly complete control of slimserver. A native
PDA app could connect via bluetooth or 802.11 and not have to rely on
direct line of sight IR signals.

-kdf

relen
2006-01-24, 15:46
Actually, much as I like the Sonos "iPod control surface plus a bigger screen" approach, I /don't/ like their player with an integrated amp. Amplified loudspeakers are extremely common now and exist both at the low end (computer speakers) and the high end (OK, maybe not much in between). The last thing I want is a player with amps on the end in a big box: I prefer either a standalone player I can use anywhere, or maybe a licensed module that could be integrated into another component such as a receiver.

I have certainly thought, and have noted elsewhere, however, that someone could build a small, quiet and stunningly-industrial-designed Linux box with a CD drive and a bunch of scripts for ripping, tagging and artwork acquisition and run Slimserver on it; plus do Nokia 770s as remotes, plus OEM SB's, and/or OEM SB modules built into a component.

Would SD be up for licensing an SB module? I seem to recall asking this last year but nobody got back to me. As far as Meridian is concerned (for whom I work) this particular boat appears to have been missed, but there are still people I could suggest it to.

--Richard E

Skunk
2006-01-24, 16:27
I have certainly thought, and have noted elsewhere, however, that someone could build a small, quiet and stunningly-industrial-designed Linux box with a CD drive and a bunch of scripts

Quiet or silent? Why put the SB inside the PC, but say you don't want the amp with it? IMO someone who buys a re-boxed squeezebox should buy vaseline as well.

CardinalFang
2006-01-24, 16:31
> ditto for me. I'd love a graphical remote so I could browse album art
> when picking music. What might work is a native app for Windows PDAs so
> that you could talk to SlimServer directly using IR through the SB
> instead of going through the slow web interface.

There's a CLI for the slimserver which is more appropriate for that use
than sending IR signals.


I was only thinking of using IR for the transport layer, much as a phone uses it when being used as a modem by a PC. Yes, you could put a WiFi module on a PDA, but what about wired only systems? My thought was that your app could compose a CLI command and send it to the SB via IR which then passed it to the SS, and returned the results via IR.

You'd need to hold the PDA or phone pointed at the SB all this time, which you wouldn't with WiFi I grant you, but could take advantage of a lot of old iPaqs and Symbian phones that have IR, nice displays, keys and some with touch screens, but not WiFi.

If I could write a Symbian app for a Nokia Series 60 phone that tunneled via IR through the SB to the server - then that would be cool. Then you could SMS the phone from the car as you pulled up at home and start the playlist running just as you walked in the door. Even better, you could set music playing when you're out to make people think you're at home if you suddenly have to work late. Plus the phone has a camera, so you could add artwork from that by photographing sleeves. OK, getting I'm carried away now, but there a lot of old phone out there that are cheap and would be great as full colour remote controls given the built-in processing power that they have.

Paul

relen
2006-01-25, 03:36
Quiet or silent? Why put the SB inside the PC, but say you don't want the amp with it? IMO someone who buys a re-boxed squeezebox should buy vaseline as well.

No, no, don't put the SB in the PC: have stand-alone SBs PLUS SB modules built into other audio components, eg receivers, as an option like DAB/FM versus AM/FM.

Sorry, I should have written more clearly.

--Richard E