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Kaizen28
2011-08-03, 18:29
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?

maggior
2011-08-03, 19:15
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!

erland
2011-08-03, 22:55
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
2011-08-03, 23:17
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.

Nikhil
2011-08-03, 23:50
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.

erland
2011-08-04, 00:03
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 ?

Nikhil
2011-08-04, 02:08
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.

bluegaspode
2011-08-04, 03:06
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?

Muele
2011-08-04, 03:08
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.

umapati
2011-08-04, 03:55
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 ??

erland
2011-08-04, 04:00
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?

Don't they do some kind of scanning when you add a SMB folder to the library ?
https://sonos.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/sonos.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=261
Sounds kind of similar to how SBS works.

Muele
2011-08-04, 04:17
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 ??

Yes!, at least as long as you run your own server.
I don't know if the touch as a standalone-system requires MySqueezebox.com. But in any case: I don't think Logitech will/can shut down mySB.com for a couple of years, even if the pull the plug on the productline.

But development is still being done on the software, so don't worry too much.

andynormancx
2011-08-04, 04:19
Yes you could use your SB Touch indefinitely if Logitech vanished tomorrow. Only the mysqueezebox.com side of things would stop working. You could still use it for local music playback and internet radio.

You would lose the various services like Naptser, Pandora etc Some of those could be restored by third party add ons, others not. Someone would also need to develop a new podcast plugin for the Touch and the Radio (I expect such a plugin would appear in a couple of days if Logitech went away).

toby10
2011-08-04, 05:01
SBS would continue to work as now, but you could not update your OS platform. So if the last SBS version is for Win7, you could not update your SBS server computer to Win8 and expect it to function. I'm just using Win as an example, pick your OS.

Internet Radio would work but on a very limited basis as far as the UI and menus. The menu items on the player are derived and managed by MySB.com. So if MySB.com goes away so does your existing menu navigation for such streaming. At least I believe that is how it all works. Obviously all Apps/Services would not function if MySB.com is gone.

But you could cut & paste any basic URL stream into SBS server then save it as a Favorite and these should work fine even with no MySB.com around.

andynormancx
2011-08-04, 05:30
So if the last SBS version is for Win7, you could not update your SBS server computer to Win8 and expect it to function. I'm just using Win as an example, pick your OS.

The likelihood of the current version of SBS not working in Win8 is fairly low, Microsoft go to great lengths to preserve backward compatibility between versions (except sometimes when it comes to drivers for hardware). The chances of any compatibility problems that crop up due to a Windows upgrade not being able to be easily worked around and solved by the community are basically zero.

Pretty much the same applies to OSX and Linux (or though in the case of OSX backwards compatibility issues are more likely to occur, but just as easy to fix).

There really is very little worry over SBS permanently breaking after a future OS update.

toby10
2011-08-04, 06:01
andy,
Yeah, could be. Software is not my strong point. ;)
I'm just basing that on the fact that every PC/Mac OS update creates new issues with SBS for some users. How much of the fix for these update glitches are resolved on the SBS end vs the user making tweaks on his end I dunno.
But even user tweaks and fixes would become much more difficult to find the answers too if Logitech really pulled the plug on the entire SB concept as I'd guess that would also mean shutting down support forums for a defunct product.

I think there is much more to come from SB/Logitech, in both hardware & software, myself.

andynormancx
2011-08-04, 06:03
if Logitech really pulled the plug on the entire SB concept as I'd guess that would also mean shutting down support forums for a defunct product.


If this forum shut down today, someone else would start a new one tomorrow. And if they didn't, I'd start one on the day after tomorrow.

erland
2011-08-04, 06:13
So, what are the next pretenders to the throne? What's the hardware? What's the software?

If we are talking big companies, I believe the companies which might release something are:

Apple:
They soon have the iCloud and since before they have the iTunes Music Store which both will get you easy access to music. They also have stationary players in form of Airport Express and AppleTV and mobile players in form of iPod/iPhone/iPad and computer based players through the Mac of your choice.
However, Apple is going to be focused on what's possible to sell to the masses, features are going to be limited to what the masses need, it's going to be simple to use and you are going to be forced to comply to their rules to use it. Advanced features and high highend audio quality will probably not be among the provided features. I'm not sure multi room streaming is on the top of their agenda and neither great support for premium services as they want everyone to get the music from their iTunes Music Store.

Google:
Google soon have its Google Music service where you get easy access to the music. They will probably only provide software and advertising and let other companies provide the hardware. Their goal is likely to get GoogleTV in the center of our living rooms and possibly also to have some Android based tablets and phones to be able to consume the music from mobile devices. Google is focused at selling advertising and due to this they are going to focus on devices which have an interactive screen (where they can show the advertising), due to this I'm not sure multi room streaming is something they will prioritize. However, they want many customers so supporting many streaming services is probably something they likely will do. Google is likely going to market themselves as the open alternative for those who don't like the closed Apple solution.

Amazon:
Amazon offers the their MP3 Music Store where we get easy access to the music, their issue is that they need to either provide their own hardware or partner up with a hardware vendor that can do it for them. Since they are probably more focused at selling the music than developing and selling hardware, I suspect they are only going to provide apps for iOS and Android and possibly GoogleTV if it becames a success. Amazon's business is probably focused at selling the music or cloud storage, the software at the user end is just a way to access it. The problem for Amazon is that if they try to sell a lot through an iOS app they are probably going to be stopped by Apple (who like to get their share of the income) so due to this they will probably invest more in Android/GoogleTV than iOS.

I've probably missed a lot in the above but I just wanted to give you my current thoughts.

Now, the issue with all these three companies is that currently I don't believe any of them are focused at what people in this community wants. They are all focused at the masses and not the enthusiasts.

So I believe that what we are going to see in the near future is products from existing actors (Logitech, Sonos) and from HiFi manufacturers like Linn, Naim and others and possibly also from other small hardware vendors trying to get into the market with media streaming products focused at customers somewhere in-between Hifi and massmarket (where most of the community members of this forum belongs).

HiFi manufacturers will likely focus more on supporting locally stored music than supporting premium streaming services, mostly because they know that they need high quality music to make their customers get some benefits from their investments in HiFi hardware.

Sonos is going to continue to be Sonos, easy to use but rather closed if you like to integrate with it.

It's hard to know what Logitech is going to do, your guess is as good as mine.

Nikhil
2011-08-04, 06:35
Don't they do some kind of scanning when you add a SMB folder to the library ?
Sounds kind of similar to how SBS works.

Yes they do, but since the only requirement for the server is to have an SMB share, it is a lot more flexible than SBS. Also the scanning has always been a gazillion times faster. They are obviously not storing as much metadata as SBS, but I've always wondered since the days of SS6 how Sonos could scan the same library in a fraction of the time it took SS/SC/SBS.

Muele
2011-08-04, 06:40
It's hard to know what Logitech is going to do, your guess is as good as mine.

My guess is one of these three:
1. The SB line of products will continue their slow fade-away, until the point of no existence.

2. Logitech will sell off the product line to someone who will either continue development or somehow gut the company for profit/customerbase/whatever reason.

3. Logitech will finally get their act together and start marketing the stuff and put development resources into it.

I think the new CEO will be key in "our" fate. And I also think the ill-fated product called Revue will greatly influence what happens.

maggior
2011-08-04, 06:55
Yes they do, but since the only requirement for the server is to have an SMB share, it is a lot more flexible than SBS. Also the scanning has always been a gazillion times faster. They are obviously not storing as much metadata as SBS, but I've always wondered since the days of SS6 how Sonos could scan the same library in a fraction of the time it took SS/SC/SBS.


When the scan occurs, where is the data being stored - on the controller? Since there is no server, I'm thinking it has to be stored there. What if you have multiple controllers in the form of Andriod, iOS, or Sonos devices?

I read up on Sonos just see what the options are if Logitech abaondons the Squeezebox and I have to turn elsewhere.

Regarding Erlands comments about who the new players may be - I certainly hope it isn't Apple. I like the iPod, but I'd be pretty upset to lose FLAC support for my home setup.

erland
2011-08-04, 06:55
I think the new CEO will be key in "our" fate. And I also think the ill-fated product called Revue will greatly influence what happens.

The interim CEO was in charge when Logitech purchased Slim Devices:
http://www.dailytech.com/Logitech+Buys+Slim+Devices/article4633.htm

I also saw this last week where music streaming at least is mentioned as something they like to improve (together with everything else):
http://www.itproportal.com/2011/07/29/logitech-regains-guerrino-de-luca-as-ceo/

oktup
2011-08-04, 07:21
Hi All
- 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.)

I've got "Thunderbirds are Go" on cassingle, if you want a copy ;)

MediaCenter
2011-08-04, 08:14
At the moment I personally don't think there needs to be a future for streaming devices. Squeezebox is the best and there is nothing out there that competes with it in terms of scalability.

The fact is that there is nothing new in audio that will change things drastically in future at least until someone come up with a eureka.

You have...
Resolution: they are already at loss less 24/96 the next jump will be 24/192 etc. but nothing major here, I may upgrade due to my upgrade bug then a major sonic improvement.

Radio: There are many flavors available, they can now just improve quality, but it will never be loss less due to licensing.

On-Demand: Many services available, with varied collection, they can always add more content.

CD: You can always buy and rip CDs or DVD-A, if what you are looking for is not available through other means.

Squeezebox support all the above so at the moment there is no need for a new device, just continue to market what they have and improve it.

What one can see in future is...

Multi-channel: This will gain some traction but, people already own HT receivers and blu-ray players. It will trickle down to streaming

Room-Correction: More and more stereo devices may come with RC.

Resolution: bit rate will continue to be there, a better number is expected in future.

We will always be geeking about new equipment and upgrades but if you look at it from avg. Joe's perspective what they have now is more then enough for some time.

Nikhil
2011-08-04, 17:53
When the scan occurs, where is the data being stored - on the controller? Since there is no server, I'm thinking it has to be stored there. What if you have multiple controllers in the form of Andriod, iOS, or Sonos devices?


The metadata are stored on the zone players; not on the controllers (the only downside is that there is currently approximately a 65K track limit). You can scan your library on any one of the players through any of the controllers and it auto-magically mirrors on every other zone player associated with the system. Even if you remove the first zone player with which you scanned the library, it doesn't matter.

As for controllers, I use a Mac and Windows Desktop Controller, a Sonos CR100 controller, an iOS controller on my iPod Touch and an Android controller on my Galaxy Tablet. They all coexist happily with each other.

Kaizen28
2011-08-04, 18:07
Okay, so can someone tell me how the online services find and stream a song to phenomenally quickly?

I mean, they decimate my SqueezeServer and it's local!

JJZolx
2011-08-04, 19:18
I think that in hi-end audio there will continue to be 'network' music players developed, but most or all of them will be DLNA based. Very few audio companies can afford to develop software on the scale of Squeezebox Server.

Some of them may play internet radio or music services, but that's mostly a secondary consideration. And whole-house audio and the syncing of multiple players is not a priority at all.

http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/summary.php?PID=604

http://www.psaudio.com/ps/products/description/perfectwave-dac?cat=audio

http://www.naimaudio.com/hifi-products/type/23

erland
2011-08-04, 21:56
Okay, so can someone tell me how the online services find and stream a song to phenomenally quickly?

I mean, they decimate my SqueezeServer and it's local!

Probably because they have better hardware than you have and they probably also have more optimized software.

slate
2011-08-04, 23:39
If money is no object you/we could also go for Bang & Olufsen
BeoSound 5 and BeoSound 5 Encore
At least they are a company that have had multiroom solutions for decades... if not the first... back when Sean was not even born

http://www.bang-olufsen.com/beosound5
http://www.bang-olufsen.com/beosound5-encore

rolski
2011-08-04, 23:57
Or Sooloos by Meridian.... :-
http://www.sooloosbymeridian.com/

verypsb
2011-08-07, 02:43
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.

On the Sonos forums I was shocked to read that 65.000 tracks is a 'theoretical' maximum. It can be as low as 40.000 tracks, depending on your tags. So absolutely a no go for me. (And Sonos show no sign of fixing this either, its apparently a limit of the hardware. As a workaround you can use Windows Media Player as your library. Would that include .flac files?)

LeftToMyOwnDevices
2011-08-07, 12:38
Last I checked (couple weeks ago), WMP doesn't do flac. I didn't investigate further so there may turn out to be a workaround or fix that I am unaware of.

mrfantasy
2011-08-07, 17:24
Don't forget these guys:

http://www.olive.us/

And that's the issue, I think--any of these dedicated audio devices are for people who are serious about music. Squeezebox is quite frankly at the bottom of the market for price (although I think sound quality is much better than that), Sonos is not far behind, and then you shoot up into the $1000 and up devices from Soolos, Olive, Bang&Olufsen, etc. Everyone else who doesn't give a crap how their music sounds is either listening on their crappy laptop speakers, or running a DLNA system through their TV or maybe Blu-Ray player through a $300 home theatre sound system.

Another option is integrated network audio with AV receivers like the Denons. They do uPNP but can play back FLAC. And of course they all do AirPlay as well.

I'm not sure how Squeezebox exists in the marketplace long term except as a niche player, and I don't know if Logitech wants to operate them like that. I'm not sure where Slim Devices would be if they hadn't sold. Sonos has a defining characteristic with their mesh networking and variety of devices. Logitech should have that too with the different Squeezeboxes, but the complications of the server side are a barrier for some.

verypsb
2011-08-07, 22:55
I did buy a Escient Fireball for around EUR 1700,- Then considered a "pro" solution. I've owned it for 6 months, but I was never really happy with it. Many , many problems... Not convinced by its audio quality either. Then I bought I a Squeezebox Duet (EUR 299,-)(Because I didn't want to buy a expensive sytem that didn't work again, i.e. Sonos. Not because Sonos doesn't work, but I didn't want to take the risk again)
Since the Squeezebox Duet I've been a happy streaming audio user. I think the audio quality is better than the Escient.
If you take a look at my signature, you can see I'm convinced by the quality and possibilties of the Squeezbox system. If only Logitech would release some new devices and emphasized multiroom audio possibilties in their products & marketing.