Originally invented by Sean Adams of Slim Devices, the Squeezebox quickly built a fan-base among audiophiles for its excellent sound quality and versatility. You could play back virtually any audio file format up to 24 bits / 96kHz. It also made the server software Open Source so basically anyone could contribute.
A decent remote is included and the gorgeous display is easy enough to read even from a couple metres away. On top of that, you can even control your Sqeezebox from your smartphone or with another nearby computer. It’s simply amazing how much flexibility you have.
It also features full iTunes integration although I haven’t tried the latest iTunes versions yet. And it is just as easy to integrate a massive FLAC library.
Unfortunately, the Squeezebox has been discontinued by its new owner Logitech. I suspect the product was just too nichy for a mass-market manufacturer. But if you happen to find used Squeeboxes on eBay or on Craigslist, grab one!
Here’s how you would hook up a Squeezebox to your stereo system:
This pretty much covers the analog side. But in addition, you are also going to need a computer with a harddisk or a NAS in your home.
An external digital-to-analog converter is optional. Many audiophiles were just fine with the TI PCM1748 DAC chip inside the Squeezebox 3rd generation. This chip is actually a very solid performer and capable of 24bit/96kHz with a signal-to-noise ratio of greater than 103dB. Even for critical listening, the quality differences between an ultra-high end DAC and the Squeezebox alone should be virtually non-existing.
If you own a newer generation of the Squeezebox such as the Squeezebox Touch, you can even hook up an external hard drive via USB and start playing back music.