Copyright © 2005 Jake Angerman
When referring to the Squeezebox in a general context, the abbreviation SB will be used. When the version number is important, the version number will be appended as in SB2 or SB3.
This FAQ exists to help people enter the world of PC-based audio. Many long-time audiophiles may know a lot about audio but may not be computer savvy. This document is a collection of information to help the computer wizard and neophyte alike. The idea is to avoid the same questions being asked again and again on Audiocircle.
Some people choose the SB purely for high fidelity. The elimination of a physical transport and potential elimination of a preamp appeals to them. Others choose the SB for the convenience of having their entire musical collection at their fingertips from an easy-to-use remote control. Others like the idea of eliminating the physical space taken by a large CD collection. All of these reasons are valid.
No, they use the same underlying hardware.
The Bolder Cable Company and Red Wine Audio offer aftermarket modifications to the SB unit as well as alternate power supplies.
The stock power supply is non-linear. There is general consensus that a linear power supply sounds better on high end systems. In addition to the vendors listed previously, this thread has sources for 3rd party power supplies.
220 ohms (reference).
2.12 VRMS without aftermarket modifications (reference).
There is general consensus that firmware 15 from Slimserver 6.1.x is sonically superior to later versions of the firmware in Slimserver 6.2.x. The technique is to install Slimserver and replace later versions of the firmware with version 15. Slimdevices does not condone this procedure, but it works.
Note: There is a known bug in firmware 15 that can cause connectivity problems in some cases. The symptom is an Ethernet MAC address for the Squeezebox that does not match the one printed on its case. A workaround exists.
The following procedure is for a FreeBSD UNIX system, but the concepts apply to any other operating system that runs Slimserver. The idea is to trick slimserver 6.2.x into using the previous firmware by copying the firmware to its directory and telling it that the firmware version is 15 instead of 26 (for example).
assume your slimserver 6.1.1 directory is /usr/local/slimserver
stop slimserver 6.1.1
rename the slimserver directory to slimserver.6.1.1
install slimserver 6.2.0 to /usr/local/slimserver
copy slimserver.6.1.1/Firmware/squeezebox2_15.bin to slimserver/Firmware/
copy squeezebox2.version to squeezebox2.version.26
edit squeezebox2.version and replace all instances of 26 with 15
start slimserver 6.2.0 and verify via the web interface "player settings" link that the Squeezebox is running firmware version 15
Slimserver has modest hardware requirements. The minimum is listed as a Pentium 733 Mhz with 256 MB of RAM. Any reasonable PC you have lying around will probably work.
Most of the time the PC will be streaming encoded data to the network, which is not very CPU intensive. The CPU will be taxed during encoding, importing, and transcoding. Transcoding occurs when converting from one encoding format to another. An example of transcoding is when slimserver converts a lossless format like FLAC into mp3 when you stream music from a dedicated music server to another computer.
Most people use a PC to store their music and run slimserver. Whether you use a dedicated PC or your general-purpose computer is a personal decision.
100 GB holds approximately 300 CDs encoded with FLAC. The slimserver database for such an installation is approximately 38 MB.
Yes. Your operating system can remain on your existing hard drive, and the new drive can be dedicated to holding music. If your PC case has an empty bay to hold the additional drive and your PC power supply has available 12V plugs, you are in business.
Each has its strengths.
Interior drives are cheaper, generate less noise, are easier to cool, and do not require additional wall power plugs.
Exterior drives are mobile which means they are good for holding backups of your data. If you are not computer savvy, exterior drives offer simpler installation than opening your computer and messing with its internals.
Firewire 800 is faster than USB 2.0, and USB 2.0 is faster than USB 1.1. Some users have reported slow slimserver import performance using USB 1.1. If you have an older laptop and want to use USB with an external drive, PCMCIA USB 2.0 cards are inexpensive.
Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a drive enclosure that is connected to the network instead of a specific PC. These devices usually have built in RAID and a web interface. Examples include Buffalo Terastation, Infrant ReadyNAS, and Netgear Storage Central (reference).
Today these devices use wired Ethernet connections to reduce costs. You can take a wired model and buy a wireless bridge device to connect it to your wireless network.
RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. RAID has different levels which provide concatenation of disks and fault tolerance. The data is written across more than one disk drive so that if one of the drives fails, the remaining drives can still function while the failed drive is replaced.
Mirroring is the same thing as RAID level 1 and consists of two physical drives that are updated with the same read/write operations. If one drive fails, there is an identical drive that can keep going until the faulty drive is replaced.
RAID can be implemented in many ways: your computer's motherboard, a separate card that plugs into a slot in your computer, an exterior drive enclosure, or even in software using your operating system. When you implement RAID in hardware, the RAID controller must initialize the disks before writing data to the array. That usually means the disks are reformatted. The moral of the story is to setup your RAID array before putting your music collection on disk.
Fault tolerance is not the same thing as a backing up your data. For example, if you accidentally erase an album from your music collection, the data will be dutifully erased from every drive in the fault-tolerant drive array. It pays to backup your data to a separate device.
Long enough for them to fail. It is not a question of if they will fail, it is a question of when. You can do your best to provide good cooling and surge suppression, but eventually the drives will fail. There is no hard and fast rule, but you can expect them to fail sometime between now and 6 years.
You can backup to magnetic tape.
You can backup to a lot of DVDs.
You can backup to a separate drive.
You can mirror the drives and remember not to infect your PC with malware, accidentally delete anything, and hope your house never floods, burns down, or becomes burglarized.
You have many things to consider: storage, backup, heat, and power. The bigger your collection, the more you won't want to re-rip your CDs if a drive fails, so tape backup starts to make sense.
As an example, a RAID 5 array with four 500 GB drives would yield:
3/4 * (4 * 500 GB) = 1500 GB effective storage
That is approximately 4200 CDs. It would take slimserver a long time to catalog a collection that size, let alone the time it would take you to rip that many CDs.
Most normal people can live happily with RAID 1. The economics are cheaper with reasonably sized CD collections.
5400 rpm drives generate less noise and heat than 7200 rpm drives, but 5400 rpm is dying out in the marketplace.
Practically speaking, there is no performance difference between 2 MB and 8 MB cache sizes when used in a consumer RAID application.
The SB comes in a wired-only model and wired+wireless model. It is generally more convenient to use wireless Ethernet and locate the server PC away from the listening area to eliminate fan and drive noise.
You might be able to use 802.11b. 802.11g is preferred since it has 5 times the network bandwidth as 802.11b. Some people have reported latency problems using 802.11b and FLAC while others have not. If you have an existing 802.11b network, it is worth an attempt to see if works. If you will be buying new hardware anyway to create your wireless network, 802.11g is a no-brainer.
A wireless access point provides wireless connectivity to wireless clients such as the SB. A wireless router encompasses an access point while routing traffic between wired and wireless network segments. A wireless router usually handles the network connection to your Internet Service Provider as well.
Linksys WRT54G Ver.4 and below
Warning: Do not use the Linksys WRT54G Ver.5. It is flaky.
D-Link DGL-4300 Wireless Gaming Router
Warning: Do not use the D-Link DI-624 Rev.C. It is very flaky.
Use a static IP address for your squeezebox and slimserver versus DHCP.
Put the wireless router as high as possible in your home (not in the basement).
You and your neighbor could be sharing the same wireless frequency (channel), causing interference and poor connectivity. Use Netstumbler or Macstumbler to detect neighboring networks and adjust the channel on your wireless router to avoid the conflict.
2.4 GHz cordless phones can interfere with 802.11 networks. Channel 11 reportedly conflicts with 2.4 GHz phones less often. Do not place the base station near your wireless router. Consider using 900 MHz phones. Newer 5.8 GHz phones still use the 2.4 GHz frequency for signaling, so they are not a panacea.
Microwave ovens use the same unlicensed spectrum as 802.11. Try channels 1 or 2 on your wireless router as they tend to interfere with microwave ovens less often.
Users have reported problems with the SB3 and 802.11g “double speed” technology that purports to transfer data at 108 Mbps. Turn off that option in your router if you are having problems.
No. Signal strength affects latency and throughput, not audio quality. If your music is not skipping or stuttering, your SB is getting all the bits.
Use WPA2 to secure your wireless network. WEP is easy to defeat. MAC address filtering and SSID cloaking are not effective against determined crackers. If you use WPA2, the latter two options are moot.
It is most likely a networking problem. Ensure slimserver is running and that your server is not under duress. Check your firewall to see if it is blocking the connection. Try using an Ethernet cable instead of wireless to isolate the problem. Do not use homemade Ethernet cables. Check your wireless signal strength using the slimserver HTML interface under "Player Settings".
Ripping is the process of extracting raw audio data from an audio CD-ROM. Encoding is the process of converting raw audio data into a format that uses less space. Exact Audio Copy may be abbreviated EAC.
The general consensus is that Exact Audio Copy is the the ripping program de jure.
Probably not, but it is likely OK. iTunes is a music management program with a single checkbox entitled, “Use error correction when reading Audio Cds”. EAC's sole purpose is to obtain the most error-free rip possible.
If you have an iPod and you like the fact that iTunes provides one stop shopping for your ripping, encoding, tagging, and management needs, then go for it.
Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) and Apple Lossless compress raw audio data without loss of information.
The average compression ratio is approximately 55%. (reference)
No. Any differences you may hear are probably due to Replay Gain if you have enabled it.
You will save disk space.
You will save network bandwidth.
Your backups will take less time.
FLAC is open source software. It is designed to be easy to implement in hardware so that it can be used royalty-free in many devices. Apple does not support FLAC in iTunes.
Apple Lossless is proprietary. Its encoding is faster than FLAC, but it doesn't matter.
One does not sound “better” than the other. Every lossless codec encodes audio data without loss of information.
The question, “Should I use FLAC or Apple Lossless?” is better asked, “Should I use iTunes or not?” See previous question, “Can I use iTunes?”
Yes. You can select the iTunes checkbox “Convert higher bit rate songs to 128 kbps AAC for this iPod” when your iPod is connected. This will allow you to rip your music losslessly and transcode to a compressed format for your iPod. You will pay a CPU penalty at sync time, however.
You can use Media Monkey.
You can use the command line program metaflac that comes with the FLAC distribution.
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