Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not Putting My Money Where My Mouth Was

About two months ago, I got asked about home music systems. At that time, I was particularly upset with our Squeezebox setup at home. I've had issues with it of one form or another for about the entire 3.5 years I've been using it. At one point, it was frustrating enough that I unplugged the players, but lack of alternatives around Christmas this year had me reluctantly press one back into service.

In the past, I've had problems with network stability, broken upgrades, missing search results, library scanning issues, and lots of extra steps I feel shouldn't be necessary to just keep the system working. Setting up the player for Christmas meant trying the latest software version, since that was a lot easier to do than trying to go back to the last version I know worked. Surprisingly, most of the issues were resolved. Scanning still doesn't always terminate, but a couple kicks tends to be enough to get what I want from it. The remote is much better about staying on the network, search actually finds the things I know are there, and the plugin system is working again.

With the house we're buying, the two Squeezebox receivers I have aren't going to be enough, so I decided to look at the options, and look for opinions on Squeezebox vs. Sonos. Looks like the general opinion is that people who are exposed to both are generally a bit jealous of what the other one does. I'm apparently not alone in my frustration with things being unstable. Meanwhile, it sounds like the Sonos people are a bit jealous of being able to fiddle with the system as much as is possible with the Squeezebox. Maybe that's not entirely accurate, but looking at actual Sonos website, it really feels like the Apple sort of "we know how to do this and it's all just going to work". Perhaps, but it'll work their way and not mine, and paying to find out what their way is looks a bit steep.

That the real decision point here for me - the Sonos bits are about twice as expensive as the Squeezebox ones for what I want. There's the small caveat that what I want from Squeezebox has been discontinued, but there's enough stock out there that I managed to get what I was looking for, with a couple spare remotes in case of accidents. That, and being able to use the existing two units, rather than having to buy two additional Sonos boxes sealed it. No way was I considering trying to have both systems going. I've sunk enough time into trying to get all the music in order, and there's plenty more work to do there.

So, for now, even though I recommended other people start off looking at Sonos, I'll stick with the devil I know, who seems a little less bad at this particular moment. I'm still looking forward to something other than a phone or tablet that'll interface with Google Music, but that'll have to wait. I suppose in theory, I could write a Squeezebox plugin, but I'm more likely to grumpily wait and, in a few years, if nothing else changes, get one of the kids to write it instead.


  1. I really want a Sonos (or several) but can't justify the cost. So we just plug our iPod/phone into TJ's 20+ year old receiver from college and live with the crappy sound. I don't think I can take it much longer, though...

    1. Not sure if the Sonos itself is enough to sound better, although some of them do come with speakers. I don't think I've ever seen one in person, let alone listened to it. That's one of the reasons I'm not going with the new Squeezebox stuff - not only does it look like it's supporting video, but they all appear to come with built-in speakers, and I'm not sure I trust that. Then again, all I'm doing at the moment is plugging it into computer speakers of various quality, but that's been good enough. We'll probably do something better when we move, since we'll almost certainly go to a model we can hang on the wall, given the space we intend to put it in, and that'll need external speakers.

      So, yeah, the real problem isn't buying the Sonos or whatever, it's everything else you have to buy to make buying that piece worth the investment.

      By the way, I'm still using the pre-PA system speakers from college for downstairs. Most of the other pieces were stolen and replaced, and the PA stuff got sold off around the time I bought my first house.