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View Full Version : Tempted with SB3 BUT........................



Empgamer
2007-08-04, 15:47
I suppose I'm just a bit paranoid. There's a big part of me that thinks I should go the SB3 route over the Sonos but there are a few things the Sonos has going for it that really appeal:

Ease of set up
Ability to use a NAS with no server software
That damn remote
The Mesh wireless network
Zone synchronisation
I am told the sound quality is better?

On the other hand the cost is a BIG turn off. Also, things that the SB has over the Sonos:

Cost
Display on each player
Size/style of player
No need for a hard wired player into router
An open system (albeit I'm not sure how important that is to me seeing as I largely want to be able to play music from a NAS into a room and, at times, several rooms at once).

The issues that worry me with the SB route are that:

It will be more complex to set up and maintain
Will the SB3/TS109 NAS soulution be AS easy to use and as good as the Sonos/Linkstation/Mesh
Will the wireless network I have be as good as the Mesh?
I'm aware of the Nokia 770 but wonder if it will be as pleasant a user experience.

It's almost as if I want to get a SB3 system but have a sense of dread that it will be a pain to maintain and won't offer the same ease of use/set up as the Sonos such that I'll regret getting it :( That said I want to rig 3 rooms, two of which will need speaker setups too (Audioengine A5?) and a NAS. Going Sonos will likely be about 800 more I reckon. Cost isn't a MAJOR concern but for 800 there will need to be something to show for it other than a remote.

I have a reasonable amount of technical savvy so it doesn't frighten me as such, I'd just rather spend my time using the streaming device rather than maintaining it :(

Decisions, decisions.

Balthazar_B
2007-08-04, 22:41
Another difference between Sonos and Slim is that the former has some real problems with large music libraries. It's a matter of architecture, and partly it's what sold me on Slim.

There are things about Sonos I like, though. However, since the Logitech acquisition of Slim, I'm cautiously optimistic that Slim will evolve to match or surpass Sonos, without losing backward compatibility. Only conjecture, though.

Edit: While a NAS-based Slimserver is nice in concept, until recently at least it has involved several compromises. I use a NAS for storing my FLAC files (and as a print server, network backup, etc.) and run Slimserver off a quiet, dedicated server. I think this is ultimately more flexible and supportable. There are myriad discussions of the different options, and I'd urge you to plow in and avoid getting overwhelmed with all the choices and opinions. Choice is good, after all.

I think you'll find, at least at present, that the Sonos mesh will tend to work better than syncing Squeezeboxes. However, in the future I would expect to see Logitech improve the network architecture/behavior of the remote devices to more or less match Sonos' performance.

Ur[s]uS
2007-08-05, 02:26
...there are a few things the Sonos has going for it that really appeal:

...
Ability to use a NAS with no server software


Not quite - the ZP80/ZP100 runs the server software (so to speak). You will still need a computer or NAS turned on to provide the music files.



The issues that worry me with the SB route are that:

...

It will be more complex to set up and maintain


I don't upgrade with every nightly or experiment with every plug-in. I do not think it complex to set up and maintain. I'm tech savvy, but far from expert.



Will the SB3/TS109 NAS soulution be AS easy to use and as good as the Sonos/Linkstation/Mesh


Once setup and using the remote to browse, my expectation is that this will be as easy and as good. However, if you want to use web-browser, from reading threads on the issue, there are mixed views on performance of NAS as server.



I'm aware of the Nokia 770 but wonder if it will be as pleasant a user experience.


I have N770 and enjoy the user experience. Word on the street is that N800 is even better. Also, the gentleman who designed the skin for N770/N800 use has been recruited by Logitech/Slim Devices and will almost certainly be working on the Jive platform - which should lead to very interesting remote for the SB3 etc.

Indeed, the link between Logitech (who make Harmony universal remotes, among other things) and Slim Devices has lead many to think that an uber-remote will be forthcoming before long. They never reveal products in advance - but we can hope for beore Christmas?!

pfarrell
2007-08-06, 06:34
On the other hand the cost is a BIG turn off.


The setup issues is really a cost. Its one time, and then you are done.




Will the SB3/TS109 NAS soulution be AS easy to use and as good as the Sonos/Linkstation/Mesh


I strongly believe that you should not start with a NAS.
They tend to be underpowered. Some people are happy with them, others are not. The types of files you store has a big impact, as
non-native formats mean that the slimserver has to do on the fly transcoding.





Will the wireless network I have be as good as the Mesh?


I don't understand what you are asking here.
I use either my SB remote, or a laptop to control my music, I'm very happy. You probably could control it with a smart phone.

The SB doesn't use wireless for remote control, just to connect to the SlimServer. And some folks use CAT5 cable.

I would start with an old PC for the slimserver, rather than a NAS. It will be cheaper and you can see if you like it.

If you plan on running many rooms with non-native formats, you are sure to run out of CPU power on the NAS quickly.

Mark Lanctot
2007-08-06, 07:00
I am told the sound quality is better?

I have heard of a lot of the things you list, but this one is a new one.

The Squeezebox does have a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out. I don't believe Sonos does.

corbey
2007-08-06, 13:11
The issues that worry me with the SB route are that:

It will be more complex to set up and maintain
Will the SB3/TS109 NAS soulution be AS easy to use and as good as the Sonos/Linkstation/Mesh
Will the wireless network I have be as good as the Mesh?
I'm aware of the Nokia 770 but wonder if it will be as pleasant a user experience.



I'll try to give my perspective as a relative newbie here:

1. Running on almost any PC, SlimServer is extremely simple to set up and maintain. However, if you must have it running on a NAS device (exactly why you'd want to, you don't say), then you'll probably find that it's more complicated to install and you may not be able to take full advantage of all the available plug-ins.

2. Will your current wireless network be as good as the Sonos mesh network? Hard to say, but if you currently have reasonably good wireless coverage of your house or apartment, then you shouldn't have any problem adding a Squeezebox.

3. Will the Nokia n800 be as pleasant a user experience as the Sonos remote? To me, the n800 running the Nokia 770 skin is superior to the Sonos remote. The n800 is a smaller, more elegant device that you can use for much more than just controlling SlimServer. It has a touch screen, built-in speakers, and an excellent web browser that you can use to see your album art in SlimServer.

4. According to the Stereophile reviews, the Sonos units do sound somewhat better than the Squeezebox. However, if you're of the audiophile persuasion, you're probably going to want an external DAC with either one of them.

Cheers,
Steve

candtalan
2007-08-07, 14:36
I bought a squeezebox 3 and opened it today. I wanted to use cat5 cable and direct internet radio playing, but no PC use at this stage.

I plugged it in, did not read the manual :-) No problems, dhcp setup ok, and the menus are intuitive. I also really like the fact that different operating systems can be used. And a good forum too.

If my recommendation is useful you certainly have it!

Empgamer
2007-08-11, 01:16
Thanks for replies. I'm still undecided but I really would like to try out the SB3 option but even at these prices it's expensive if I may a mistake :(

I want the NAS option as I simply don't want to have a power drinking PC whirring away from dawn till dusk. Looking at the TS109 Pro if I go the SB route.

I think I've got it down to two sticking points now:

1) I will want to use the wirless option and I have a home network using the Netgear DG834PN. I'm not sure if it will buckle under the strain of perhaps my daughter using her PC, wife using a laptop, AND trying to run 1, 2 or 3 SB3?? The Sonos having it's own network clearly doesn't suffer from this.

2) The remote. I know many prefer the supplied SB3 remote but it's not what I'm looking for. The ability to see a good display of music and create playlists from an armchair is essential and that might be the thing that wins me over to the Sonos. I know Ben has done a load of work on the 770/800 but I'm just not sure how slick/quick the device is or whether, by comparision with the Sonos, it'll be a pain to use.

Pellicle
2007-08-11, 07:35
I have two SB3's on wireless playing FLAC files pretty much most of the time. I also have my work laptop connected and a n770. I move a huge amount of data over my laptop wireless link including simultaneous net meetings, file transfer and VPN connection. The amount of data transfer is more important than the number of clients. I have never had a hiccup with the wireless SB3. For web browsing etc from a couple of laptops / PC should not be a big issue normally. The big bottleneck could be to the Internet if you are using Internet radio streaming and have a high Internet use from the other computers. The download speed of the Internet is typically factors slower than your LAN network speed. But for local media files this is not the case.
I have a G network with my router in the basement and reasonable coverage throughout the house but not perfect.

Mark Lanctot
2007-08-11, 08:02
1) I will want to use the wirless option and I have a home network using the Netgear DG834PN. I'm not sure if it will buckle under the strain of perhaps my daughter using her PC, wife using a laptop, AND trying to run 1, 2 or 3 SB3?? The Sonos having it's own network clearly doesn't suffer from this.

Real-world bandwidth for a good 802.11g connection is 25 Mbps. What kind of Internet connection do you have? Let's say 5 Mbps. That means the most *all* of your devices will use simultaneously when interacting with the Internet is 5 Mbps, probably less.

FLAC takes up 1.5 Mbps with overhead. That means you're using 6.5 Mbps of your 25 Mbps at peak. If you have bad wireless conditions like I do and you're limited to 15 Mbps, you still have lots of remaining bandwidth.

The only way you can seriously disrupt this is with large file transfers on your LAN, PC-to-PC.

Empgamer
2007-08-11, 08:20
Thanks both, that's useful. My laptop reports 56Mb connection speed to the wireless most of the time and I'm on 6-8Gb Broadband. If we are on the net it's mainly surfing although daughter usues MSN a lot. very little by way of heavy downloads or internal data transfer.

Mark Lanctot
2007-08-11, 08:23
Thanks both, that's useful. My laptop reports 56Mb connection speed to the wireless most of the time and I'm on 6-8Gb Broadband. If we are on the net it's mainly surfing although daughter usues MSN a lot. very little by way of heavy downloads or internal data transfer.

You must mean 6 - 8 Mbps broadband. Anyway, MSN and web surfing uses very little of that. Small data transfers, very often.

Also the 56 Mbps is just wi-fi providers being hopeful. It means you're connected at the 56 Mbps specification but if you did real-world tests you'd find you'd be in the 25 Mbps range, which is still fine for your purposes. Makes me wonder, though, these claims of ~200 Mbps for 802.11n, how close will they REALLY be to 200 Mbps. :-)

Attached are tests I did a long time ago on an 802.11g connection transferring a large file while the laptop was reporting "56 Mbps".

ErikM
2007-08-13, 15:40
I've had both.. Still have the Sonos.

Empgamer
2007-09-29, 23:14
Well, I'm tyring out Slimserver with Softqueeze now and I think I might give an SB3 a go.

As an aside, do the various plug ins and Squeezenetwork work with SoftSqueeze or just the real thing?

ceejay
2007-09-30, 00:57
Well, I'm tyring out Slimserver with Softqueeze now and I think I might give an SB3 a go.

As an aside, do the various plug ins and Squeezenetwork work with SoftSqueeze or just the real thing?

Yes, you can use Squeezenetwork and the usual plugins with Softsqueeze. Try it!

I find it a useful way to fiddle around with the settings at the comfort of my computer before I deploy anything at my real players.

Ceejay

Fifer
2007-09-30, 03:11
If you are worried that an NAS might not be powerful enough to run Slimserver now or in the future and don't want a power-hungry PC running all the time, you might want to look at a mini-ITX PC based on the Via EPIA motherboards, most of which are fanless, silent, very low power and easily man enough to run Slimserver with power to spare. You can pick then up on eBay, build your own or buy new and none of those options should cost half of that 800 difference. There are other low power PC options available too.

jaysung
2007-09-30, 10:23
Buy the Sonos men and report how it is back here! I am always happy when someone tries things out.
In terms of audio quality I wonder if Sonos have a device as the transporter but an external dac might be an option.
I am as Pellicle very happy with a Thecus n5200 nas doing the slimserver and two sb3/transporter. But I have them hardwired wifi suchs. And that might be a point for Sonos if they have a mesh network structure. Don't know that one though.

JimC
2007-10-01, 18:49
Thanks for replies. I'm still undecided but I really would like to try out the SB3 option but even at these prices it's expensive if I may a mistake :(

I want the NAS option as I simply don't want to have a power drinking PC whirring away from dawn till dusk. Looking at the TS109 Pro if I go the SB route.

I think I've got it down to two sticking points now:

1) I will want to use the wirless option and I have a home network using the Netgear DG834PN. I'm not sure if it will buckle under the strain of perhaps my daughter using her PC, wife using a laptop, AND trying to run 1, 2 or 3 SB3?? The Sonos having it's own network clearly doesn't suffer from this.

2) The remote. I know many prefer the supplied SB3 remote but it's not what I'm looking for. The ability to see a good display of music and create playlists from an armchair is essential and that might be the thing that wins me over to the Sonos. I know Ben has done a load of work on the 770/800 but I'm just not sure how slick/quick the device is or whether, by comparision with the Sonos, it'll be a pain to use.

What about skipping SlimServer entirely, uploading your music to an MP3tunes locker and using SqueezeNetwork to run the SB? You won't have a PC to worry about running 24/7, we'll do all the upgrades for you, and at US$40 per year it's cheaper than a NAS drive (unless the NAS/SB setup lasts about 20 years).

There are a few downsides:

1. If your ISP goes down, you have no music.
2. If you are using lossless CODECs (ALAC, FLAC), you can't use MP3tunes.
3. SqueezeNetwork doesn't allow external plugins, so you can't add some of the cool community developed extras for SlimServer.

However, if #2 and #3 don't apply to you, the MP3tunes and SqueezeNetwork combination are pretty good.


-=> Jim

Empgamer
2007-10-03, 00:14
Sounds quite good but I use FLAC I'm afraid, MP3 on Ipods only. BTW, I ordered an SB3 and a set of Audioengine A5 speakers. Look forward to them arriving.

Kaizen28
2007-10-08, 08:55
Hi

I am very interested in this thread as I need to solve a multi-zone problem (master bedroom / bathroom).

I have owned a SB3 for about 18 months and I use it together with an Infrant ReadyNAS X6. I absolutely LOVE the SB3 but there are some points to keep in mind:
1) The web interface is poor but that's okay as I very seldom use it. Spend some time on the initial setup and the world will be a nicer place.
2) The NAS solution is potentially really good and avoids the need for a PC to be on. The X6 is a bit sluggish but I have read that the NV+ and Thecus are more responsive.
3) I'm considering the ThinkCentre a61e as it only eats 45W and offers more grunt. Particularly for the 7.x release.

My only problems with the SB3 are:
- the absence of multi-zone
- no built in amp (although some will see this as an advantage)

I continue to look at the SONOS offering but the size of my collection steers me away from it. I also love the plug-ins that are available. It may sound trivial but seeing the weather report each morning is excellent.

Finally, I have no reference for SONOS but the Slim Devices support has been excellent. In summary I have never regretted my purchase but I'm eagerly awaiting future product announcements.

Phil Leigh
2007-10-08, 09:10
What do you mean by multi-zone in this context? You can run multiple SB's with their own streams (or with them synch'ed if that's what you want). Or do you mean being able to control one SB from another?

Kaizen28
2007-10-08, 19:08
What do you mean by multi-zone in this context? You can run multiple SB's with their own streams (or with them synch'ed if that's what you want). Or do you mean being able to control one SB from another?

I somewhat hang my head in shame. Having only a single SB I have almost completely forgotten about this as I never see the "Synchronize" menu option. Also, initial feedback was poor, especially with a wireless installation so I guess I purged this from my brain.

The SONOS really touts this as a massive feature advantage and I think I've discounted the SlimDevices offering.

Do you have any experience with the Synchronization functionality?

Empgamer
2007-10-09, 00:56
I think there are plusses and minuses for both systems. I have to say that as yet these are IMPRESSIONS I have of both systems so we plan to try them out and see what suits us. At least for me (others will be important perhaps to different people) they broadly are:

SB3
Pros
Slimserver I think is more versatile than the Sonos package
Plug ins are good
On screen display on device
1 remote per device
Possible new Sonos style remote coming
New SS GUI coming (v7)

Cons
Not AS easy to set up out the box perhaps (I'm quite happy with PC and network configuration though and there is plenty of support both here and on Wiki)
Relies on existing home network
Some Wireless Routers don't seem to perform well (a router problem really)
Care needed with any NAS solution


Sonos
Pros
Piece of cake to set up
Flashy remote (if a little hefty)
Own wireless network
NAS I suspect easier to set up etc.
No real need for the one wired Zone Player (see ethernet/power solution and an impending bridge it seems)
Amped and non amped ZPs

Cons
Costly
Does what it does well but nothing else (Pandora is not available in UK. Some have acquired it with a work around but continued availability may depend on the effectiveness of geographic IP addressing)
Nice remote but they aren't cheap, if you don't have it to hand you need to go get it.
No unit display


We are giving the SB3 a run and see how we get on. We don't need loads of rooms covered so the 32 room set up is redundant for us. 2-3 at most. Quite confident we can synch the units if we need to. We like the thought of the internet radio, I like the other plug ins and configurability.

What WILL clinch it for us though is wireless network performance. We use the Netgear DG834PN which some have had problems with. It's set up, working well and all home devices work with it with no problem. Unless it dies therefore, it isn't changing. If the SB3 (which should be here today) doesn't connect and STAY connected we'll return it and go the Sonos route unless the changes to the system don't screw it or impede the network performance or security. That won't be an SB3 problem of course but it will be a case of last in, first out. None of the pros and cons are enough to sway me enough to be 100% committed to choosing one or the other. I think we would PREFER the SB3 but if it doesn't fit in with our current set up we'll likely just go the alternative route.

Mark Lanctot
2007-10-09, 06:48
What WILL clinch it for us though is wireless network performance. We use the Netgear DG834PN which some have had problems with. It's set up, working well and all home devices work with it with no problem. Unless it dies therefore, it isn't changing. If the SB3 (which should be here today) doesn't connect and STAY connected we'll return it and go the Sonos route unless the changes to the system don't screw it or impede the network performance or security.

This isn't the first time I've heard this from multiple posters and it puzzles me every time. I'm not picking on you, Empgamer, I'm just really puzzled.

A wireless router costs $50 or less. An SB3 costs $299. You can get a wireless router from dozens of retailers, in hundreds of models from dozens of manufacturers. You can only get an SB3 from one manufacturer, either online or through a very limited amount of retailers.

So it seems obvious to me which device I'd ditch in a heartbeat - the router. And I did, an SMC 2804WBRP-G. I switched to a Linksys WRT54G v4 and haven't looked back. I sold the SMC almost for what I got it for on eBay.

It seems to me to be a no-brainer (particularly if you indicate you have had problems with the Netgear) but I guess some people get attached to their routers? To me they are ephemeral and disposable things. Besides, when 802.11n comes around in a big way you won't be able to give away these things. They will make great doorstoppers.

Empgamer
2007-10-09, 07:05
That's certainly an option and could well be the best thing to do for some. Like I say though, I'm not DESPERATELY bothered which streamer I use. Not got a problem with either of them, I'm just honestly not THAT bothered.

Other problem is I REALLY don't have much time before I depart for overseas and the various devices we have connected to the network took some time to get all working. I don't have the time or the inclination to bin the router, especially as it's working fine, and buy and set up another one, got tons to do and too little time. The trader is aware of this situation and has been REALLY helpful and is more than happy to take the bundle back (monitor speakers and SB3) and swap it out for a Sonos bundle and NAS etc that I'd also get off him.

I've had no problems with my Netgear, I notice that others have had though.

Empgamer
2007-10-10, 04:32
Not going to be a problem anyway seeing as I now have it going. Very happy.

Addendum: And have ordered a TS 109 pro to go with it.

aubuti
2007-10-11, 08:44
I somewhat hang my head in shame. Having only a single SB I have almost completely forgotten about this as I never see the "Synchronize" menu option. Also, initial feedback was poor, especially with a wireless installation so I guess I purged this from my brain.

The SONOS really touts this as a massive feature advantage and I think I've discounted the SlimDevices offering.

Do you have any experience with the Synchronization functionality?
My personal experience with SB synchronization on slimserver 6.x has been uneven. Most of the time it works great, other times it falls out of sync, which is mostly a problem if you have overlapping zones where you can hear 2 out-of-sync sources at the same time. The effect can range from a pleasant reverb to unlistenable. When that happens it's easy to re-sync by re-starting a track or jumping to the next one. Not ideal, but not a dealbreaker for me.

Others in the forums have reported rock solid sync'ing all the time.

But the big news is that the developers have been paying a lot of attention to this issue with slimserver 7 (now called SqueezeCenter 7), which is currently in beta. Reports have been good. The little that I have tested out SC7 the sync has been perfect. That can also happen to me with 6.5.4 on any given day, so I need to do more testing before I declare victory in my setting.

john_ops
2007-10-15, 14:49
Hi-

I have both a full Sonos setup and a single SB3. I used to have 2 SB3's but I got rid of one. I actually thought about getting rid of both of my SB3s, because the Sonos interface and easy sync make the world of difference to me (I would call them "life-transforming"). I ended up keeping my remaining SB3 sitting atop my bedroom Sonos because I love the weather. Haven't listened to it in a long time. Sure, it's an expensive weather and stock ticker, but it makes my mornings a lot better.

;-)

J