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the nightfly
2013-06-02, 02:24
So, I've been gone for many months and come back here to find lots of unfamiliar names being tossed around: SqueezePlug/SqueezeLite/Community Squeeze/Wandboard/Raspberry-Pi. All with long threads filled with hundreds of techie-jargon-filled posts which only make this layman thoroughly confused as to what a given product is supposed to be -- a player replacement, a player/server combo, something else entirely?

So, if it isn't too much trouble, could someone post a quick summary of any project or projects being undertaken to create an actual "Squeezebox replacement?" Particularly, let me ask the question: if my SB Touch were to die tomorrow, or next month, what options would I have to replace it with something that would be able to stream music over wi-fi from a computer or NAS running LMS, and outputting that music to a DAC at 24/96 resolution? A clear, simple summary would be greatly appreciated!

erland
2013-06-02, 23:01
So, I've been gone for many months and come back here to find lots of unfamiliar names being tossed around: SqueezePlug/SqueezeLite/Community Squeeze/Wandboard/Raspberry-Pi. All with long threads filled with hundreds of techie-jargon-filled posts which only make this layman thoroughly confused as to what a given product is supposed to be -- a player replacement, a player/server combo, something else entirely?

So, if it isn't too much trouble, could someone post a quick summary of any project or projects being undertaken to create an actual "Squeezebox replacement?" Particularly, let me ask the question: if my SB Touch were to die tomorrow, or next month, what options would I have to replace it with something that would be able to stream music over wi-fi from a computer or NAS running LMS, and outputting that music to a DAC at 24/96 resolution? A clear, simple summary would be greatly appreciated!

Quick summary of the ones I'm aware of:

SqueezePlug
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?97709-SqueezePlug-for-Raspberry-Pi-version-6-ready-for-download
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?90931-SqueezePlug-Media-Server-4-0-(final-Release)
Software distribution for SheevaPlug based hardware which also works on the Raspberry Pi hardware.
Initially designed to be a LMS server but these days SqueezeLite can be installed to make it a player also.
Typically it requires a an external DAC to get audio quality close to a Squeezebox Touch.


SqueezeLite
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?97046-Announce-Squeezelite-a-small-headless-squeezeplay-emulator-for-linux-(alsa-only)
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?97766-Announce-Local-Player-plugin-and-Squeezelite-for-Linux-Windows-OSX
Software player distributed as a plugin which makes it possible to use your computer and the soundcard in it as a player.
Can be used on ARM based platforms such as Raspberry Pi, SheevaPlug or Wandboard or on Intel based platforms like your normal computer.

Typically it requires a an external DAC to get audio quality close to a Squeezebox Touch, the exception is the Community Squeeze project which will have a really good built-in DAC.


Community Squeeze
http://www.communitysqueeze.org/faq.jsp
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?98521-Announce-Community-Squeeze
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?98544-Community-Squeeze-OS-R3

Consists of both software and hardware designed by community members with the intention to be able to be an alternative for Logitech based Squeezebox hardware. Currently only the software distribution is available but they are working hard on the hardware part. It uses the CPU card from the Wandboard as a base but will provide an add-on hardware card which provides what we need to get excellent audio quality out of it. It uses SqueezeLite as a player.


VAMP
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?97721-Logitech-SqueezeBox-replacement-for-under-30

Cheap DIY hardware project which base its player hardware on SqueezeLite with the intention to make a cheap replacement for a Touch for people with an external DAC.


Wandboard
http://wandboard.org/
The hardware which contains the CPU card which is the base for the Community Squeezebox project. Can be used as a player already today, but to get decent audio quality you need an external DAC.


Raspberry Pi
http://www.raspberrypi.org/
The hardware which is used in piCoPlayer. Can be used as a player already today, but to get decent audio quality you need an external DAC.
Can also be used together with the SheevaPlug distribution.


Vortexbox
http://vortexbox.org

Software and hardware platform, initially designed to be a media server hosting LMS, but these days it also bundles a player so you can use it both as a server and player.
The software can be used either on a dedicated Vortexbox Appliance hardware or on your own computer.

ickStream Music Platform
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?98467-Pre-Announcement-ickStream-Music-Platform
http://blog.ickstream.com/
Software project with the intention to create the next generation music streaming platform based on the experience from Squeezebox. It's currently in a closed beta phase and the intention is that any hardware vendor that wants to use it should be able license it to use it on their hardware platform. Will focus on providing a solution for people who are interested in having access both to local music and online music, will integrate with LMS and other music servers for local music and provide its own cloud server for integration with online streaming services.


From a hardware perspective, my feeling is that the Community Squeeze is most promising for people who like excellent audio quality, especially if you want a device with an excellent built-in DAC. It will hopefully also be possible to combine with ickStream Music Platform so we also can get great support for online services. For people who want a cheaper solution than the current Touch and have an external DAC, it might be worth to look into VAMP or SqueezePlug based on a Raspberry Pi, just make sure the DAC is compatible with the Raspberry Pi, I know some asynchronous USB DAC's have issues on the Raspberry Pi.

If you aren't in a hurry, I would wait and see how all these projects develops during the next 6 months.

usbethjim
2013-06-03, 05:40
Great summary - Thank you...I needed that!

Jim

the nightfly
2013-06-03, 09:00
Thanks, erland. A couple more quick questions:

1) If I were going to use the Pi with SqueezeLite, but didn't need to run LMS on it (because it would be running on a separate machine), would I still need to install SqueezePlug first? In other words, on the Pi, is SqueezePlug a prerequisite to install and run SqueezeLite?

2) VAMP sounds really promising, except that the last detailed building and installation instructions from the creator presupposed the VAMP would be connected to the router via Ethernet, which is a non-starter in my setup. Later on in that thread, he claims to have wi-fi working, but gives no further details, and has been relatively silent since then. Is there a thread or website I'm missing that gives directions on how to install a VAMP so that it connects over wi-fi rather than being hard-cabled?

FWIW, I wouldn't need an internal DAC, since I'd be using the one in my receiver. (It would be pointless to use a better DAC, since the receiver would first re-digitize the incoming signal for DSP purposes, so it's just as well to provide a digital input stream. Accordingly, since I don't see any of these projects having an S/PDIF output, I assume I'd be using a USB-to-S/PDIF adapter of some sort. Would there be any possible pitfalls to such an approach?

Once again, thanks!

guidof
2013-06-03, 10:44
Excellent post, Erland!

Very helpful.

Guido F.

guidof
2013-06-03, 10:48
Thanks, erland. A couple more quick questions:

1) If I were going to use the Pi with SqueezeLite, but didn't need to run LMS on it (because it would be running on a separate machine), would I still need to install SqueezePlug first? In other words, on the Pi, is SqueezePlug a prerequisite to install and run SqueezeLite?

2) VAMP sounds really promising, except that the last detailed building and installation instructions from the creator presupposed the VAMP would be connected to the router via Ethernet, which is a non-starter in my setup. Later on in that thread, he claims to have wi-fi working, but gives no further details, and has been relatively silent since then. Is there a thread or website I'm missing that gives directions on how to install a VAMP so that it connects over wi-fi rather than being hard-cabled?

FWIW, I wouldn't need an internal DAC, since I'd be using the one in my receiver. (It would be pointless to use a better DAC, since the receiver would first re-digitize the incoming signal for DSP purposes, so it's just as well to provide a digital input stream. Accordingly, since I don't see any of these projects having an S/PDIF output, I assume I'd be using a USB-to-S/PDIF adapter of some sort. Would there be any possible pitfalls to such an approach?

Once again, thanks!

Community Squeeze is intended to support WiFi as well as SPDIF (coax and Toslink).

Guido F.

castalla
2013-06-03, 11:15
Thanks, erland. A couple more quick questions:

1) If I were going to use the Pi with SqueezeLite, but didn't need to run LMS on it (because it would be running on a separate machine), would I still need to install SqueezePlug first? In other words, on the Pi, is SqueezePlug a prerequisite to install and run SqueezeLite?



Squeezeplug is a debian distro with a specialised menu setup for installing various pieces of software: eg. LMS, Squeezelite, Squeezeplay, Twonky, etc., as well as letting you setup the debian image with network, wifi, etc.

You only need to install the software you want - so you can just select Squeezelite.

You can simply Squeezelite on other Pi distros by downloading the binary - you do need some additonal files, which Squeezeplug provides. A good reason to simply use Squeezeplug!

hubbaloo
2013-06-03, 13:10
1) If I were going to use the Pi with SqueezeLite, but didn't need to run LMS on it (because it would be running on a separate machine), would I still need to install SqueezePlug first? In other words, on the Pi, is SqueezePlug a prerequisite to install and run SqueezeLite?



If it is just a player try piCoPlayer:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?97803-piCoPlayer-Squeezelite-on-Microcore-linux-An-embedded-OS-in-RAM-with-Squeezelite

erland
2013-06-03, 14:31
2) VAMP sounds really promising, except that the last detailed building and installation instructions from the creator presupposed the VAMP would be connected to the router via Ethernet, which is a non-starter in my setup. Later on in that thread, he claims to have wi-fi working, but gives no further details, and has been relatively silent since then. Is there a thread or website I'm missing that gives directions on how to install a VAMP so that it connects over wi-fi rather than being hard-cabled?

There are a lot of VAMP threads on the Vortexbox forum at: http://vortexbox.org/forum.php
I've used the Pi with a USB WiFi module so it's definitely possible to get it to work with the right USB WiFi dongle, but I haven't tried it on the VAMP.



FWIW, I wouldn't need an internal DAC, since I'd be using the one in my receiver. (It would be pointless to use a better DAC, since the receiver would first re-digitize the incoming signal for DSP purposes, so it's just as well to provide a digital input stream. Accordingly, since I don't see any of these projects having an S/PDIF output, I assume I'd be using a USB-to-S/PDIF adapter of some sort. Would there be any possible pitfalls to such an approach?

The Wandboard have optical S/PDIF, but if I've understood corrected it's broken and requires some soldering to work properly, so if you don't have soldering skills it won't work.

The Community Squeeze hardware will definitely have a good quality S/PDIF, but then you would have to wait for the Community Squeeze add-on board which is currently being developed and doesn't exist to to the general public at this stage.

For the Raspberry Pi, you would need a USB-to-S/PDIF adaptor, I've no idea how much these affects the audio quality.

It might also be possible to use the HDMI output depending if your receiver have inputs for HDMI.

the nightfly
2013-06-03, 17:14
If it is just a player try piCoPlayer:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?97803-piCoPlayer-Squeezelite-on-Microcore-linux-An-embedded-OS-in-RAM-with-Squeezelite

Thanks for the recommendation! I'll check it out.

P Nelson
2013-06-04, 07:25
This was very useful. Consider putting this on the community squeeze website or making it a sticky.

I get a confused with the jargon here and the multiple products with the squeeze attached to the name.

Paul

the nightfly
2013-06-05, 03:08
I'll agree -- the info here (updated as needed) ought to be a sticky.

drunkahol
2013-06-05, 04:03
Thanks erland. I, too, have returned to find myself somewhat out of touch with what is going on. (Currently living in a flat barely big enough to warrant a single stereo, let alone a multi-room setup!)

I've been looking at various ARM boards and wondering about the possibilities on each. I've currently got the RaspPi and BeagleBoard Black. Kickstarter projects I'm backing are Parallella and Udoo - both chucking out simple ARM board around the $100 mark.

Comparison page here (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/435742530/udoo-android-linux-arduino-in-a-tiny-single-board/posts/489219) - yes it's bigging up the Udoo, but it's a useful table.

As I've been looking into the various player projects, I've been wondering how generic any of them are. For example, is the Community project fixed on the Wandboard or is there an ability to run on other similar boards? I'm not asking for the projects to change or anything, but a project that is based on ARMv7 instruction set might be able to separate out the core parts of the project from the board-specific parts.

Setting the Rasp Pi to one side, the common theme of these boards is ARMv7 instruction set. All the ARM v7 boards are cheap and have more than enough grunt to provide basic playback facilities to Squeezebox Duet levels.

I guess I'm just wondering if it's worth looking to widen the hardware scope of the projects to be able to run them on different boards. There's certainly a case for running a powerful board that can both serve LMS, playback streams, digital output, HDMI output, rich control menus, IR control etc. But there's also a case for the most brutally simple board that is only capable of simple audio stream playback.

Cheers

Duncan

JackOfAll
2013-06-05, 06:21
As I've been looking into the various player projects, I've been wondering how generic any of them are. For example, is the Community project fixed on the Wandboard or is there an ability to run on other similar boards? I'm not asking for the projects to change or anything, but a project that is based on ARMv7 instruction set might be able to separate out the core parts of the project from the board-specific parts.

The "official" Community Squeeze OS image is for the Wandboard. If you can get a "generic" Fedora 18 image up and running on your ARMv7 device, you can use the CS repo. Follow the CS Repository install instructions for i386/x86_64. Community Squeeze Repo and LMS Installation (http://www.communitysqueeze.org/repo.jsp#Installation)

Labarum
2013-06-05, 11:18
This should be a sticky.

erland
2013-06-05, 14:46
This should be a sticky.

I've put it on the wiki:
http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/Community_Projects

Anyone which is missing something, feel free to edit the wiki page.

mherger or someone else with permission who reads this, start a new sticky thread that links to the above wiki page if you feel it's appropriate.

dyohn
2013-06-05, 16:30
Here's a thread about getting a wifi dongle working with the Ponoplug VAMP.

http://vortexbox.org/threads/4626-VAMP-and-Wifi-my-first-experiences?highlight=vamp+wireless

I have mine hard-wired to a wireless access point that is in my rack (also used as connection for A/V prepro and DTV DVR.) Works great.

erland
2013-06-07, 00:29
Raspberry Pi
http://www.raspberrypi.org/
The hardware which is used in VAMP. Can be used as a player already today, but to get decent audio quality you need an external DAC.
Can also be used together with the SheevaPlug distribution.

To avoid some confusion, someone just whispered in my ear that the VAMP is using PogoPlug and not Raspberry Pi, sorry if the incorrect information from me earlier in the thread caused confusion for someone. I've updated the wiki page accordingly.

If anybody else finds further mistakes in the description I provided, feel free to update the information on the wiki page:
http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/Community_Projects

I also added JiveLite to the wiki page since it's used by the Community Squeeze project and is an important component for people who want a user interface on their Community Squeeze devices.

sander
2013-06-08, 14:05
Kudos, as always, to Earland for the synopsis. I have been watching this from afar as well, but with no near term need it's been more of glance.

Does anyone know if syncing will be possible with any of these projects? My understanding this was one of the most difficult parts of the hardware and even some of the (oldest/weakest) hardware can't always sync reliably.

JohnSwenson
2013-06-09, 17:49
I guess I'm just wondering if it's worth looking to widen the hardware scope of the projects to be able to run them on different boards. There's certainly a case for running a powerful board that can both serve LMS, playback streams, digital output, HDMI output, rich control menus, IR control etc. But there's also a case for the most brutally simple board that is only capable of simple audio stream playback.

Cheers

Duncan

Just to add a little more to what JackOfAll stated, many parts are applicable to many of these boards. The part that is not is the actual linux kernel, it is compiled with the hardware drivers that are needed by the wandboard. The different manufacturers of ARM chips have very different ways to access the peripherals on the chips. These are usually compiled into the kernel so you need to know what the hardware is going to be when you create the kernel. The result is that we don't have an image that can just be loaded on any ARM board and it will run. At the moment this cannot be done.

There is another major issue. The USB implementations on these boards are NOT equivalent. Many of them cannot handle an asynchronous USB DAC properly, especially at higher sample rates. When choosing the right platform to run CS on we checked out several and decided on the Freescale iMX6 because it has a USB implementation that works well for audio. In addition we chose the wandboard specifically because it uses a module approach where the core processor parts are on a module that lets us have access to the low level interfaces of the processor chip which are necessary for our hardware implementation. If you are just going to plug in a USB DAC this is not necessary, but for the hardware implementation I'm working on, this is needed.

The wandboard met all of our requirements nicely and was readily available so we decided to go with it as the official platform for CSOS. As JackOfAll mentioned most of the "squeeze" specific components will work fine on other ARMv7 hardware, BUT you need a Fedora 8 linux system running on first. This is something that will have to be developed separately for each platform. I don't think there are any plans right now to officially support other hardware implementations.

John S.

exile
2013-06-09, 17:56
Kudos, as always, to Earland for the synopsis. I have been watching this from afar as well, but with no near term need it's been more of glance.

Does anyone know if syncing will be possible with any of these projects? My understanding this was one of the most difficult parts of the hardware and even some of the (oldest/weakest) hardware can't always sync reliably.


i took the plunge and built a pogoplug/squeezelite and love it. i rarely need a display or use the squeeze remote in my living room so a pogoplug was the perfect replacement for my squeezebox 3 which is now in one of my kids' bedrooms. It syncs perfectly with my other squeezeboxes as well (multiple squeezebox 2's and 3's.)

the only warning would be that you'll need to be able to manuever working in command line for the pogoplug setup and also be able to do some troubleshooting along the way. but i have no real computer programming knowledge and I was able to successfully set it up in a few hours.