Most streaming music devices require two key outside components to work: speakers and a source to power them. Since there are very few powered speakers out there in reality, you most likely need to attach the streaming device to a mini-system or your home theater system – and that can create a lot of clutter, especially in the kitchen. The Logitech Squeezebox Boom fixes this problem by creating an all-in-one sound system with music streaming capabilities.
Priced at $300 USD, there is no doubt that price tag is hard to swallow, but thanks to its easy setup, intuitive navigation and beautiful sound, we can easily say you get what you pay for. Read on for the deep dive.
Design and Features
At first glance, the Squeezebox Boom looks like any other small radio unit. In fact, it looks very similar to some of Logitech’s more affordable budget iPod docks. Logitech would do well to add some sort of design flair to highlight how much more capable the Squeezebox Boom really is. Measuring in at 5-inches tall, 5-inches deep and 13-inches wide, this little system is the perfect size for a bedroom nightstand or a kitchen desk. The speakers are located to the right and left hand side of the control box respectively, with the speaker grills showing just a hint of the tweeters and woofers they are there to protect. The top of the unit features a snooze button and a small magnetic caddie to hold the remote control (clever idea there).
Below the snooze button lies the trademark Squeezebox vacuum-fluorescent display, which provides a very easy-to-read layout that will automatically adjust to the room lighting; you can even manually adjust the brightness either in the systems settings or through their SqueezeCenter software. Other features include multiple equalizer meter visualizers and customizable settings.
The controls look the same as what we have seen on some other Squeezebox products; they are intuitive to find and feel good when pressed. The wheel in the middle of the system works well for navigating the menu structure, we debated as to whether it would have been better suited as a volume control. In either case, it works great for what it is designed to do. And if, for some reason, you do not want to use to use the controls on the unit itself, the remote control works just fine as well.
There are two ways to connect the Squeezebox Boom to your network: either through traditional Ethernet, or your homes Wi-Fi connection (the Boom supports 802.11 b/g networks). We found it neat that you can connect a device to the Ethernet connection on the back of the Squeezebox Boom and use it as a bridge, much in the same way the Sonos Music system can. This comes in handy if you want to connect a device that lacks Wi-Fi to your network.
Other connections include a sub-out in case you want to add more bass to your sound, and a line-in connection so you can play music from an external source such as your iPod or Microsoft Zune.
Outside of playing music from an external source using the line-in jack, the Squeezebox Boom is really designed as a streaming music device. There are two main sources to stream music from: your PC or the Internet. If you decide to stream music from your PC, the Squeezebox Boom supports Windows, Mac and even Linux operating systems. To customize settings on your Boom, or access music stored on your PC, you will need to install Logitech’s included SqueezeCenter software. It lets you tweak the brightness level of the display; set up alarms (if you decide to use the Boom as a clock) and even control your SqueezeNetwork settings without visiting the Web site.
If you want to play music from online sources, Logitech gives you the option to play from a list of their favorite internet radio stations, or streaming music from a number of online music services that include Pandora, Slacker, MP3Tunes, RadioTime, Radio IO, Rhapsody, Last.fm, Sirius and Live365. Using the SqueezeCenter software installed on your PC, you can even add your own favorite radio stations and play them through the Boom (we tested the unit using music from Soma.fm).
If you like listening to Podcasts, you can add your favorite feed to the SqueezeCenter software and then access it through the players’ menu system. The Boom will list up to the last 10 episodes of the podcast.
The Squeezebox Boom can play MP3, AAC, WMA, AIFF, Ogg, FLAC, Apple Lossless, WMA Lossless and WAV music files. Logitech boasts that the Squeezebox Boom high-end amplifiers and crossovers to improve sound, but keep in mind that the music only sounds as good as the source, so it will not help with those 128kbps MP3 files.
One of the issues with the Squeezebox Boom is that the system will not play music you purchased through iTunes, Zune store or any other DRM-based music store.
Some of the extra features added into the Squeezebox Boom include an RSS reader so you can view the latest headlines, an alarm clock feature (which is important if you plan to use it in the bedroom) and multiple sound effects, which you can use with the alarm feature. This includes nature sounds, random sound effects, and music bits. The alarm feature is very cool, and highly customizable through the SqueezeCenter software. You can setup multiple alarms; adjust the volumes, sound effects and even which days of the week they are supposed to go off.
Image Courtesy of Logitech
Performance and Testing
Installing the Squeezebox Boom can be either very simple, or more complicated, depending on what you would like the player to do. First, register the Boom with your Wi-Fi network. Type in the SSID (or the name of your network) and the WEP/WPA code to access the network. If you just want to play music from the radio, skip the software installation and go straight to the SqueezeNetwork Web site. Register your player, and you are good to go. If you want to add your own radio stations, play music from your PC, or tweak the player settings, then you will need to install the SqueezeCenter software. In either case, it’s easy to do and gives you massive control over your new Boom.
We had very few problems in regard to Wi-Fi reception, and were able to take it over 100 feet away and through multiple rooms without a hiccup.
Sound quality is the best we have heard from an Internet radio player, or any other system of this size. Bass is deep considering the size of the drivers, while mid-range is warm and the tweeters are not overly bright. We experienced little-to-no distortion at high volumes either, which is surprising for a system this small.
Obviously this is not a monstrous system, so if you want something with a little more meat, we recommend going with the Sonos system or SqueezeBox Duet, and just adding those to your existing sound system.
The Logitech Squeezebox Boom is, to date, the best sounding media streaming system we have tested; you can tell that a lot of time and money was put into the design of this system. A few small tweaks would make this the end-all of portable radio players. An iPod dock feature is certain to make a number of people happy, and an integrated FM radio tuner seems like no-brainer. We might even recommend adding a little flair in the way of aluminum trim to help make the player look a little more upscale to match its amazing sound. In either case, if you are looking for a radio for the kitchen or bedroom the Logitech Squeezebox Boom is clearly what you are looking for.
• Wonderful sounding
• Easy to setup and use
• Very customizable
• Great build quality
• Cannot play DRM music purchased from iTunes, Zune Store, etc.
• Lacks an FM tuner
• No iPod integration