|At a Glance|
|Product||Logitech Squeezebox Boom and iPeng|
|Summary||Great combination of networked music player and iPod Touch / iPhone controller|
|Pros||• Easy and fun to use
• Handles local music and Internet radio
• Works with iTunes library
• Control and streaming via regular 2.4 GHz WLAN
|Cons||• Not the cheapest way to go|
This originally was going to be a review of Logitech's Squeezebox Duet, which is a $400 combination of a Squeezebox handheld controller and displayless Receiver. But Logitech ended up logging my request as for a Duet or a Squeezebox Boom. So when my turn came up in the review queue, a Boom ended up on my front porch one day. As things turned out, I'm glad that it did.
My focus here will be on the combination of the Boom and an excellent little app called iPeng that turns your iPhone / iPod Touch into a full-featured wireless controller for the Boom (or any other Squeezebox player).
My music CD collection stopped growing years ago, a victim primarily of reduced listening. When I started working from home, I no longer needed entertainment during a daily commute and I found listening to music while writing too distracting. So on the few occasions when my wife and I entertained, we could make do with the few hundred CD's in our collection.
But a few months back, I decided to get back into music, driven by a new gym membership and the desire to get more regular experience with home media streaming, i.e. trying to "eat the dog food". The acquisition of a refurbished iPod Touch also had something to do with my renewed interest, along with Apple's free Remote app.
I was initially excited at the prospect of being able to use the Touch and an Airport Express (again, refurb'd) connected to my receiver as sort of a poor-man's Sonos. But my enthusiasm quickly faded as, after I had put everything together, I realized that only iTunes contains the code required to recognize the Remote app.
It's not that I have anything against iTunes. But I prefer to not have a computer involved in my home entertainment, since it's complicated enough (and frustrating for my spouse) with the current handful of remotes. (Yes, I know about universal remotes... they are next on my "to buy" list.) But after a few searches for a Remote-enabling plugin for my ReadyNAS NV+—or any other NAS, for that matter—came up short, I unplugged the Airport Express and put the music streaming project on hold... until the Boom landed on my porch.
Figure 1: Squeezebox Boom
The Boom (Figure 1) takes the original, speaker and amp-less Squeezebox (now known as the "Classic", Figure 2), joins it to a pair of bi-amped speakers (3/4" tweeter, 3" woofer), adds some handy front panel controls and puts it all into the solid, compact, attractive and portable package.
Figure 2: Squeezebox Classic
The Boom is a networked beastie and can be complicated if you plumb the depths of its layers of menus. But if you have stumbled your way through setting up a router or NAS, you'll be ok with the Boom by just following the printed Quick Start guide that Logitech thoughtfully includes in the Boom's box.
Although you can use the Boom with only one wire (power) tethering it, the back panel (Figure 3) holds a small, but sufficient set of connections. (Contrary to the implication of the Boom's name, it doesn't run on batteries.)
Figure 3: Boom I/O
The Headphone or subwoofer out also serves as a general Line Out and is how I connected it to my receiver. I didn't use the 10/100 Ethernet port for network connection, opting instead for a 802.11g wireless connection secured by WPA2 (WEP and WPA are also supported). The wireless connection delivered plenty of bandwidth for trouble-free listening, even in my low-signal Kitchen area.
For comparison, Figure 4 shows the Squeezebox (SB) Classic's rear panel, which includes the more typical RCA-type analog stereo out connectors along with digital outs in optical and coax forms.