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carl_b
2006-07-06, 01:30
I've been thinking about buying a new tuner for my system. Then I run across the Squeezebox. Looks great! But... can I use it in place of an AM/FM tuner? Most urban broadcast radio stations also stream on the internet these days, right?

Has anyone replaced their tuner with a Squeezebox? How does the sound quality compare to a moderately priced (~$500) tuner?

If I can listen to AM/FM radio (not only from where I live, but from other cities), internet radio, podcasts, and my iTunes music collection... wow! I'll gladly pay $299 for that.

My main concerns are that I'd have to buy both a Squeezebox and an AM/FM tuner due to sound quality issues (of streaming broadcast radio), and possibly a lack of AM/FM stations actually streaming on the internet.

Appreciate any comments/advice.

Thanks!

Carl

JJZolx
2006-07-06, 02:04
I've been thinking about buying a new tuner for my system. Then I run across the Squeezebox. Looks great! But... can I use it in place of an AM/FM tuner? Most urban broadcast radio stations also stream on the internet these days, right?

Has anyone replaced their tuner with a Squeezebox? How does the sound quality compare to a moderately priced (~$500) tuner?

If I can listen to AM/FM radio (not only from where I live, but from other cities), internet radio, podcasts, and my iTunes music collection... wow! I'll gladly pay $299 for that.

My main concerns are that I'd have to buy both a Squeezebox and an AM/FM tuner due to sound quality issues (of streaming broadcast radio), and possibly a lack of AM/FM stations actually streaming on the internet.
Sorry, Internet 'radio' streaming just isn't there yet. At 128kbps it's passable for semi-serious listening, and the more common 64kbps is just barely tolerable for background music. You're not likely to find many stations streaming with a quality betting than that. Like over the air FM radio, the value lies mostly in the opportunity to discover new music. So there are trade offs.

tom permutt
2006-07-06, 07:04
I had the same idea, and my experience with it has been much like Jim's. That is, it doesn't exactly replace radio, if you have local stations you really like listening to. On the other hand, I have found, even in a relatively large market, less and less I miss on the actual radio, and more and more other options with the SqueezeBox: not just echoes of broadcast stations from all over, but Live365, Rhapsody, Magnatune ...

carl_b
2006-07-06, 18:36
I guess it was too good to be true.

I actually would be happy if the sound was the same quality as FM (or AM) radio.

Now I have to decide if I get a Squeezebox and see if I don't miss the tuner, or get a tuner and wait on the Squeeebox. I suppose I could get a cheap tuner and a Squeezebox, but I only have one shelf left in my stereo cabinet!

carl_b
2006-07-06, 23:16
I was just browsing through the SlimServer plugins and noticed one called Tuner. Apparenly it lets you control a PC radio tuner card with a Squeezebox. I didn't know there were such things. Though it seems that they all have TV tuners in them if my Google searches are any indication. I wonder what the sound quality of these tuner cards are like. Something to look into.

Pale Blue Ego
2006-07-07, 07:22
I don't think internet radio sounds that bad. In slimserver, you can filter out the really low-quailty streams. I filter everything below 128kbs and find the resulting sound quality acceptable. About as good as a typical highly-compressed commercial FM station. Not as good as some classical FM stations who still care about quality.

FM and AM have their limitations, too. Static and multipath interference, limited frequency response, dynamic compression, and the general lack of variety on many stations are limiting factors. Even the sattelite subscription services, XM and Sirius, are highy-compressed. People are still willing to pay $12 a month for them, though.

The important thing is the music, and that's where internet radio shines. Unbelievable variety. Thousands of commercial radio stations from all over the world, plus thousands of internet-only stations featuring every kind of music. I also really enjoy the huge variety of podcasts on every imaginable subject. Besides the vast array of amateur podcasts, a lot of commercial sources offer different shows and programs as podcasts (NPR has a large array of podcasts). This lets you listen to, say, "All Things Considered" or the various NPR music shows when YOU want to, not just when they're broadcast. You can also PAUSE podcasts, which I find a very handy feature.

The Magnatune record company offers all of their music as free podcasts. Lots of great music there. Then there's the Internet Archive with thousands of live shows at your fingertips. Bottom line, that $299 gets you an unlimited amount of free music forever. Go for it.

P.S. - if you can get Slimserver to stream radio from a PC tuner card, that might be an ideal solution. They used to sell standalone AM/FM cards for about $20 but like you said, they now seem to all come with TV tuners and are more expensive. Still, it would be cheaper than buying a separate AM/FM audio component. Good luck.

JJZolx
2006-07-07, 12:52
I guess it was too good to be true.

I actually would be happy if the sound was the same quality as FM (or AM) radio.

Now I have to decide if I get a Squeezebox and see if I don't miss the tuner, or get a tuner and wait on the Squeeebox. I suppose I could get a cheap tuner and a Squeezebox, but I only have one shelf left in my stereo cabinet!
Find out if your local radio stations have Internet feeds. Figure out the URLs for the highest quality available (they usually have a couple quality levels and a couple different streaming formats). Tune in to them using Winamp or another player on your PC and see for yourself how good the quality is. All of my local stations have feeds, but the quality isn't always great. I'd guess your PC soundcard won't sound quite as good as a Squeezebox, but the real limiting quality factor is the quality of the feed.

One thing nice about the Squeezebox and Internet radio: Where I live now I get exactly two good FM radio stations on my stereo tuner. By "good" I mean a combination of quality reception plus they're worth listening to. I get maybe another eight with good reception that I have no interest in. I used to live near Denver where there were another four or five stations that I really liked. I can listen to them again through the Squeezebox, albeit not with 'audiophile' quality. And, of course, you have all of the rest of the Internet's radio stations as well.

carl_b
2006-07-07, 21:10
Good points. I'm new to this area and there are only a couple radio stations I listen to. But it's somewhat important to me to be able to listen to local stations (partly because I am new here). I do have stations that I miss from where I used to live (San Francisco). It would be cool to be able to listen to them again as well.

I'll check out the audio quality of the local streaming FM stations. I get no AM reception where I live so the Squeezebox will be an improvement on that (I sometimes listen to news/talk/sports).

I'm real tempted by the Squeezebox. I think my next project is going to be buying and figuring out a universal remote (Logitech Harmony 880). Once I get that set up I'll likely purchase a Squeezebox.

Oh, and I looked more into the Tuner plugin. It looks like it's only for Linux; I am running Windows. I could try to get it running under cygwin perhaps, though I don't know if that would produce a binary that would work with the Windows version of SlimServer. I could also try to learn the SlimServer plugin SDK and write a Windows version (I program for a living -- only issue is, between work and a newborn I have little free time and I'd rather spend it listening to music than programming :-).

Thanks again for all the help and suggestions.

Intension
2006-07-09, 04:37
Try checking out the wiki for Squeezebox DAB support: http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?DABradio

It may work. It may not. But it's worth a try ;)
The PSION Wavefinder can be hard to find though, but it pops up on eBay from time to time, I got mine there for only 7 pounds.

I haven't had a chance to play around with it yet, so I can't give you any info on whether it works or not, but for 7 quid I won't be sorry if it turns out to be unsuccessful ;)

I will update when I get it set up.

funkstar
2006-07-09, 11:42
On the subject of recieving DAB, there is USB reciever by Trinloc. I bought mine from Multi Task Computing (also sell SB3s and Qnap units)

http://www.multitask-computing.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=3&products_id=306

I've actually ended up not using it because i abandoned my server for a TS-101 (noise mainly). Never mind, i'm sure i'll use it when i have the space to build a decent server.

Intension
2006-07-09, 12:57
That box is nice, I didn't know of that one. Thanks for the link mate. Also nice to see Squeezebox support is bolded ;)

I'll keep it in mind if my Wavefinder ends up being a POS ;)

There is a rather serious price discrepancy between that box and the used Wavefinders on the net though, so I'd still advice people interested in tuner capability to at least give the Psion a try first.

I for one am looking forward to testing it out, and will of course let you know if it's something worth tinkering with.

pm314
2006-07-12, 17:31
I had the same question when I first got my Squeezebox. I wanted to see if I could just have SB3, amp and speakers in the living room with everything else in the office. The only solution I found for an FM tuner was to feed a tuner line-out into my soundcard, set up Winamp/Shoutcast to broadcast from line-in and tune in Slimserver to the shoutcast port. It works pretty well but takes a little more effort to get running whenever you want FM. I use it occasionally but find myself mostly listing to Radioio or the like.

carl_b
2006-07-26, 01:57
Just wanted to post a followup. I've had SlimServer running for several days now (very easy setup!).

First night I set it up I went to several local (and some non-local) radio station websites. All of them had their own custom players for streaming audio. And pretty much all of them were streaming poor quality audio. But I wanted to see if I could get them running through SlimServer and SoftSqueeze anyway. I downloaded URL Snooper and went to work. What followed was a frustrating couple hours trying to figure out which URLs were the right ones, and then trying to figure out why they wouldn't play. Turns out most of them wouldn't play. Some of the stations even seemed to change URLs frequently...! In the end I only got 2 stations to actually play through SoftSqueeze. As I said, frustrating.

So I decided to check out internet radio. I signed up for Live365. Hey, this is pretty cool! The ads are annoying but if I like it I can pay and get rid of those. Lots of variety and decent-sounding quality (they claim mp3Pro can do CD-quality sound at 64K; I won't really know until I can hear it through my stereo system). After listening to Live365 stations a couple days in a row it became clear that some of these stations broadcast the same content on a 24-hour rotation. But there are lots of stations to choose from so this probably won't be an issue.

I'm disappointed in the broadcast stations quality, though I guess I was warned of this and am not too surprised. I'm also disappointed that these stations make it so hard to stream from anything other than their custom players. Maybe I just need to do more research to figure out how to get them working, but for the sound quality it's not really worth the effort.

Now, if the Transporter had an AM/FM tuner built into it.... Actually if they made something similar to the SB3 with an AM/FM tuner in it I'd be really happy (hopefully this device would be under $500).

I'm pretty excited about the Squeezebox. Only problem is I'll probably end up wanting an AM/FM tuner as well, and I don't really have space for both. I'll have to figure something out.

chris.mason
2006-07-26, 02:25
Since getting my SB3 a couple of weeks ago, I've found that I've wanted to listen to normal FM radio less, due to the range of stations available on the net (plenty broadcasting at 128k which for my money is as good as FM anyway, at least the FM I get!).
Quite a few FM radio stations are now developing high quality streams I've noticed. The main annoyance is the BBC though, because I listen to Radio 4 alot. Their net stream is realaudio at some very low bitrate.

One thing I love about net radio though is being able to listen to radio from around the world. Although I'm in the UK, I'm quite a fan of KFOX (San Jose based station). I figured out their radio stream using URL Snoop. Its pretty poor quality, but its great to be able to listen to it over here.

Net radio is only going to get better. Apart from the fact that FM radio stations have little choice but to improve their net services due to the presssures of net-only radio taking market share, and the need to reach wider audiences to survive, there are growing numbers of high quality (in content) stations out there, many with little or no adverts, and with no DJs.

I still have a radio tuner, but when that finally dies, it is unlikely that I'm going to buy a replacement.

Chris.

Andy_W
2006-07-26, 04:57
Since getting my SB3 a couple of weeks ago, I've found that I've wanted to listen to normal FM radio less, due to the range of stations available on the net (plenty broadcasting at 128k which for my money is as good as FM anyway, at least the FM I get!).
Quite a few FM radio stations are now developing high quality streams I've noticed. The main annoyance is the BBC though, because I listen to Radio 4 alot. Their net stream is realaudio at some very low bitrate.

One thing I love about net radio though is being able to listen to radio from around the world. Although I'm in the UK, I'm quite a fan of KFOX (San Jose based station). I figured out their radio stream using URL Snoop. Its pretty poor quality, but its great to be able to listen to it over here.

Net radio is only going to get better. Apart from the fact that FM radio stations have little choice but to improve their net services due to the presssures of net-only radio taking market share, and the need to reach wider audiences to survive, there are growing numbers of high quality (in content) stations out there, many with little or no adverts, and with no DJs.

I still have a radio tuner, but when that finally dies, it is unlikely that I'm going to buy a replacement.

Chris.

I have to agree - I bought my SB3 & QNAP TS101 partly for internet radio. I listen to USA east coast morning shows (particularly Z100) from about 11.00AM and then flip over to the West Coast morning shows in the afternoon. Some of the bit rates are quite poor, but I find the presenters more refreshing and much less patronising than Radio 1. It will be interesting to see how the local commercial radio stations evolve gien the competition from this new media and increasingly cheaper broadband.

Andy_W
2006-07-26, 05:28
Forgot to mention in last post - never had much luck finding radio station urls using URL Snooper. It just sends back loads of rubbish.

Instead, go the website of the station of interest and click "listen live" or equivalent. You usually get a bespoke player that plays the sation you like. Use Control + N to open a new player window from which you can view the source code using "View" then "Source" functions of IE6. You need to make sure the cache is not full or it will not work. If you use firefox, I think you can view the source code with even opening a new window.

You can then work out what the URL is by scrolling through the code until you finds something like a suitable web or mms address. Once you have the the URL, try it directly in Windows Media Player and presuming it works, type it to SS or Squeezenetwork as usual and you will be able to listen.

I have never come across a radio station (yet) that I could not work out the URL.

carl_b
2006-07-26, 10:58
Forgot to mention in last post - never had much luck finding radio station urls using URL Snooper. It just sends back loads of rubbish.

Instead, go the website of the station of interest and click "listen live" or equivalent. You usually get a bespoke player that plays the sation you like. Use Control + N to open a new player window from which you can view the source code using "View" then "Source" functions of IE6. You need to make sure the cache is not full or it will not work. If you use firefox, I think you can view the source code with even opening a new window.

You can then work out what the URL is by scrolling through the code until you finds something like a suitable web or mms address. Once you have the the URL, try it directly in Windows Media Player and presuming it works, type it to SS or Squeezenetwork as usual and you will be able to listen.

I have never come across a radio station (yet) that I could not work out the URL.

Cool, thanks for the tip, I'll look into it!