Everyone seems to say that the sound is much better than your average CD player. There is one member of this site who told me that he got rid of his emm labs cd transport in favor of harddisk media...You do the math on that one!
Best of luck!
I'm experimenting with the SqueezeBox right now. I use EAC to create FLAC files on the hard drive. My computer is in a remote room, and I've hooked it to the SB with ethernet cable. I started with a wireless connection, and as far as I could tell, the sound quality was the same, but everytime I used the microwave, it interrupted the wireless connection....so if you don't plan on snacking while listening to music, wireless would be fine.
The internal DAC on the Squeezebox is just average,and has a rather compressed sound, not a very full soundstage and lacking in dynamics.
However, going to an outboard DAC improves the sound significantly. Right now I'm trying a Bel Canto DAC2. Sounds pretty good; decent soundstage, good extension although lacking in the bass. It's an enjoyable sound quality, but not comparable to my GNSC modified Wadia 861, but I wouldn't expect that from the Bel Canto. I'm going to try a Benchmark DAC1 next.
My preliminary opinion is that the SB does a good job as a "transport," and the ultimate sound quality is really a function of the DAC you mate with it.
It is a lot of fun having your entire digital library at your disposal via remote control.....don't even have to get up to change CDs ;-)
Sound quality is very good and the modders can make it better. Most basic one is to simply upgrade the wall wart for about $20
Tons of information on the SLIM Forums and also on www.audioasylum.com in the PC forum - just do a search http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/pcaudio/bbs.html
General consensus is that its better then an iPod - and because of jitter issues inherent to an electro-optical-mechanical device it takes a very good CD player to best either the SLIM or the iPod. A CD player that costs way more then either digital device
Alternate choice you didn't miss but failed to list is SB to DAC
For best quality, use an outboard DAC betwean the Squeezbox and the Pre.
I have a Bolder cable modded Squeezebox2. I have the complete analog and digital mod included the gen2 and platinum sonocaps. I also have the Bolder cable deluxe power supply. The source is WMA lossless and I have it hooked into my Anthem AVM30 using both the analog and digital connections. The sound is so good that I sold my Consonance SACD2.2 CD/SACD player. I love the convenience of having a huge selection (1200+ and counting) of CD's at my fingertips. In addition, I use a wireless PDA to control the Squeezebox and search through my CD's. I'm never going back to a single CD player again.
Also, using softsqueeze, I can listen to my CD's on other computers around the house (mix of PC's and Macs).
I've been contemplating the purchase of a Buffalo Terrestation NAS so I won't have to turn on my PC when I want to listen to music. I build myself a new computer every February, so maybe I'll just leave this computer as the music server.
BTW-my morning routine is to rip about 6 CD's while I read my newspapers online. Eventually, I'll have my entire collection on the HD.
Prpixel... Can you give us more info on your PDA device? I would love to look at my cd collection on a remote control.
It's just a Dell WinCE PDA with 802.11B wireless built in. I access the handheld skin for slimserver through Internet Explorer on the Dell PDA. Basically, it gives you a PDA formatted version of the same slimserver shell that runs on your PC. You can even pull up album cover art. Telcanto makes another handheld skin that is supposed to be better than the slim skin. I have not gotten around to trying it because I put too much into modding my SB2 and can't afford the $53.00. Just kidding, I just haven't got around to downloading and installing it.
Prpixel, do you rip as an Image + Cue Sheet or as separate tracks? I'm close to buying a SB3 and was of the feeling that an Image rip would be better because it preserves the integrity of the original CD. In cases of many classical and jazz CDs this is important as the gaps are not always silent. But then I heard that Slimserver can play back sequential tracks in a way that "restores" that gap integrity, I'll call it. If that's the case I'd rather do track rips because it would save several steps. I use EAC and it does not place image rips into Genre/Artist/Title subdirectories the way it does for track rips.
Second, what was the decision maker in going with the Bolder mod versus Red Wine?
I rip my CD's using Windows Media Player 10. The ripping format is WMA lossless. I just insert the CD and let WMP rip away. I did buy a high quality CD drive and I set my rip speed to 2X. I played around with EAC and foobar but found them too much of a pain in the Butt. I compared rips from EAC and WMP and I was hard pressed to hear a difference. And, when I did hear a difference it would be very subtle. I guess this is where EAC's superior ripping was making its self known. Occasionally, WMP 10 has a problem ripping a certain track, so I clean the CD and re-rip. This has cured the problem every time so far. So, if you want the ultimate rip, then go with EAC. I am happy with giving up 2-3% for the ease of use of WMP 10. In addition, WMP 10 labels all the tracks for me. Its very rare that I have to edit them. And, when you have 1000s of CDs, you can see where this becomes an issue.
As far as playing back classical or jazz CD's on the Squeezebox, there is no break in the music as long as you play the entire CD. Now, if you add a few tracks from a classical CD to a play list there will be a very slight gap between the tracks. I don't use play lists so I don't have a problem with this.
Why did I choose Bolder over Redwine? I spoke to both Wayne and Vinnie before making my decision. They both offer great mods and great customer service. And, they are both very knowledgeable and polite on the phone. It was a tough choice but the deciding factor was that the Redwine mod uses a battery supply. I have s sleep disorder that requires me to sleep with the TV or stereo on. I sleep 16-20 hours a day. So, this would mean about 2-3 battery changes a year on the Redwine mod. I just did not want to be bothered with battery changes.
Wow, Prpixel, sorry to hear about your condition. I can see where that would drive how you do certain things. I very much appreciate the detailed response. I've posted on AA as well, and it seems that in fact Slimserver should have no problem with FLAC tracks and gaps, as it were. So I'm not going to eat up a lot of time trying to get too geeky with this. I too have a killer CD drive (a Plextor Premium) set aside just for this job. With that, EAC, and 700 GB worth of storage I think I can finally start this thing.
With 700GB of storage you should be able to store about 2800-3000 CD's. Remember to backup occasionally. You don't want to loose all that time spent ripping.
Good luck and happy ripping,
I've never really looked into DAC's. How much should I spend on one?
As THEY say, money is not everything.
Some people consider a cheap NOS DAC like the DAC-Ah gives them the organic sound that beats many expensive DACs. Whatever that means.
You really have to survey the market and determine the optimal price/performance combo for yourself.
A hotly contested price point is $1k where you can find Benchmark DAC1, Apogee Mini-DAC, Lavry DA-10 and a whole bunch of other DACs in stock or modded form.
I am extremely happy with my SB3. I have it running into an Audio Note DAC and I think it sounds fantastic.
I use the Linksys NSLU2 for network-based USB hard drive storage.
(and I don't think you can even compare the sound quality of an iPod to it - the SB3 is way, way better imo.)
Wanted put in my 2 cent. I have to say that so far I am really loving my stock SB2. It may not compete with extremly high priced transports but it does a good job. I am going to be sending my SB2 for a full mod which should really change the sound.
IMHO, I think the biggest advantage with a SB is the flexiblity you have. To be able to navigate your entire library with one remort Vs searching it is a big plus. I honestly been listening to more music than I have in the last few years because of the SB2. One other great feature is internet radio. Iknow, I know...many of the channels aren't good quality but its a great way to scout for new artist and music.
Also given that SB is open source...there will be always constant updates,upgrades etc for a very long time. Besides at the price point you cannot beat it. New it cost 250 depending on wired or wireless...fully modded another 4-600 hundred...still cost cheaper than most good cd player are sound way better.