Amidst a flood of wireless media players, Slim Devices has promised consumers a device that would be simple and easy to use, with no sacrifices in quality or performance. In nearly every respect, it appears that the company has successfully backed up that promise.
In terms of simplicity, using the Squeezebox to play your favorite music couldn't be easier. Whether you're at the music server creating playlists or sitting on the couch wanting to listen to internet radio, interfacing with the device is painfully simple. Although not as flashy as the Squeezebox, the bundled remote puts all the control you need at your fingertips and functions well and without issue.
Regarding audio quality, the Squeezebox does not disappoint as it offers impressive sound and clarity. Obviously, the quality of the musical output is strictly determined by the quality of the file. Thankfully, the Squeezebox supports a wide range of formats and quality levels, allowing users to play a variety of lossless and compressed files. In addition, the Squeezebox uses a wealth of quality components including a Burr Brown DAC, crystal oscillators with tight tolerances, and a healthy audio buffer. Considering the strong hardware foundation of the device, we had some lofty expectations in terms of audio quality.
When playing FLAC audio files through a set of Logitech Z5500 speakers connected via SPDIF, it was hard to find fault with the unit. So long as the user selects a quality audio extraction utility, they are assured the integrity of the audio will remain pristine and be cleanly output through the speakers. Using a popular utility called Exact Audio Copy, we were able to sample a wide variety of our personal music collection at the highest quality settings possible. Regardless of what genre of music we threw at the device and what volume we played songs at, the sound quality was exceptional. Songs were extremely clear and detailed with the listener often feeling able to pinpoint the orientation of the instruments in the studio. Again, the quality of the Squeezebox's sound is dictated by the quality of the file so your mileage may vary when playing songs under 192kbps.
If anything, the Logitech speakers were likely the limiting factor for audio quality as the Squeezebox has been making a big impact even with the most die-hard audiophiles. With a few minor changes like those offered by Red Wine Audio or The Bolder Cable Company, the Squeezebox can actually brawl with some of the best high-end audio components for a fraction of the cost.
In the end, we enthusiastically recommend the Squeezebox to anyone looking to access their digital music collection without being tied to the music server. The convenience and accessibility afforded by storing CD's digitally cannot be ignored and the latest product from Slim Devices is the ideal solution for networking those files throughout the house. Armed with 802.11g support, a gorgeous VFD display, solid software and a reasonable price (starting at $249), you would be hard-pressed to find a better digital audio player. Overall, we give the Squeezebox a rating of 9 although a perfect score is entirely possible once Slim Devices addresses the minor issues listed below.
•_Gorgeous VFD Display
•_Open Source Code - Many Plug-Ins
•_TONS of supported music formats
•_Very reasonable price
|•_AC adaptor not optimal
•_Will not natively play iTunes music