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Music of your choice, from your computer or the internet, anywhere and everywhere in your house.

This dream can become a convenient reality with the lovely Logitech Squeezebox system.

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The Logitech Squeezebox Duet Network Music System

Multi-room flexible music for your home

The most special feature of the Duet music system is the big bright color screen on the remote control unit.

This literally puts all the information you need at your fingertips, and makes it easy to choose the music you want.

Part one of a two part series on the Logitech Squeezebox Network Music System; see also :

1.  An Introduction to the Logitech Squeezebox Network Music System
Using and extending the Logitech System



Many of us have an increasing amount of music stored digitally on our computer.  Then we have CDs, favorite radio stations, and possibly other music sources too.

However, accessing all our music, from anywhere in the house, has never been easy.  Until now.

The Logitech Duet is an amazingly intuitive and simple way of organizing and accessing your music, as you wish, where, when, and how you wish.

Incredibly Elegant Design and Intuitive Functionality

Every once in a while one comes across a device that is brilliantly designed, highly functional, and intuitively easy to use.  Apple's iPod and iPhone would be two obvious examples of such excellence in design and functionality.

Here's another such product - one that is so good, and which is so useful, that it caused me to drop everything and write a laudatory review of it so you too can share this wonderful product/service.

What it Does and How

The Squeezebox music system combines several different things, in one convenient form.

  • It allows you to play internet radio and other internet music sources through its player unit and from that onto your home stereo or any other music system that can take an external music input.  It can do this without you even needing your computer turned on.

  • It allows you also to access the music that you do have stored on your computer and to play that music through its player too.

  • It provides a convenient remote control unit with a fully descriptive color screen on it so you can command and control the music you are playing from the comfort of wherever you are, without needing to get up and physically go either to your computer or to the player unit.

The player unit connects to your home network either via Wi-Fi or wired internet.  From the home network, it then can connect to internet music sources, or to your computer/computers.

The remote controller connects to your home network via Wi-Fi, or if you don't have a Wi-Fi network, it can connect directly to the player unit via the built in wireless networking in the controller and player.  This means that the complete system can work either with or without you having Wi-Fi in your house, and it also means, because the controller is communicating with the player via radio signals rather than the typical infra-red beam on most remote controls, you don't have to point the controller at the player for it to communicate - indeed, you can even be in a different room entirely and still communicate with the player and the internet.

There's one more thing about the Duet system.  You are not limited to just one player and one controller.  You can add additional players and/or controllers, more or less without limit (discussed below) to give yourself any combination of players and controllers all around your house, and all of which can be independently playing the same or different things.

A complete Duet system is available for about $325 from (the price varies from time to time).  It lists for $399.

What you Get

The Logitech Squeezebox Duet Network Music System has two main parts.  The first is the player/receiver unit that you connect to whatever amplifier/speakers you will use to play the music through.  The second is the remote controller that you use to choose what music and from where you'll send to the player.

Both items are carefully packaged in a nice cardboard box.  In addition, there is a recharging stand for the controller, and brick type power supplies for both it and the player.

There is also a stereo audio cable with regular RCA/phono plugs at each end, and an adapter cable with RCA/phone plugs at one end and a stereo headphone type jack at the other end.

A short quick start guide is also included.  A more detailed user manual can be downloaded from Logitech's website if you wish, but many people will find the quick start guide tells them all they need to know.

The unit has a very generous two year limited hardware warranty.

Setting Up the Logitech Squeezebox System

Getting the system set up and integrated in with your computer and network is very simple and straightforward.

You download some software from Logitech's site and install it on your computer.  This enables the Squeezebox system to talk to your computer and know what music you have on your disk, and also provides a conduit for you to configure your Squeezebox account for some of the various internet music services you might want to access.

You connect the player/receiver to whatever amplifier you'll use to play the music through.

You connect the remote control to your Wi-Fi network (or to the player/receiver if you don't have a Wi-Fi network).

And that is basically it.  After these simple steps, the system is ready to go.

Using the Squeezebox Duet System

Using the Squeezebox system is pretty much as simple as setting it up.  On your remote control you simply choose which player you want to be controlling (each remote control can control as many players as you have in your system), and then, after choosing the player, you then tell it whether you want it to be playing music off your computer, or from the internet, then choose the music source that you wish.

If you ever need to call Logitech's Technical Support, you'll be pleased to discover that the company provides technical support seven days a week via an (800) number.  Calls are answered quickly by sensible helpful staff who will quickly help you resolve your problem.

The Controller

Just about everything you'll ever need to do can be done from the wonderful controller unit, which is very much the heart and soul of the Squeezebox system.  The clear color screen (320x240 pixel, 2.4", 256k colors) is similar to that on modern cell phones and MP3 players and allows the system to walk you through the options available to you in plain English rather than requiring you to remember complicated control button sequences.  It will even display album art when you're playing a music track.

The controller has a rotary wheel control similar to that first introduced on the iPod, plus nine other buttons for functions such as pausing, playing, or skipping ahead/behind a track in the music, giving you lots of intuitive options to control the music you listen to.  The control wheel is a bit difficult to use, and I found I was often turning it too far.

It was useful to have a volume control on the controller.  This meant that I didn't need to be juggling two remotes - a second one for the amplifier (or, even worse, if the amplifier had no remote, needing to get up and walk to the amplifier to adjust the volume).

It even has a small speaker built in to it, making it possible (but not very sensible) to play music through itself, as well as through the player.  You could theoretically have one music stream playing through the controller and a separate second one through the player.  There is also a headphone socket on the controller, but the software to enable use of the headphone socket is still in Beta test and doesn't work reliably.

The controller has other intriguing future capabilities that have yet to be released as well.  It has an SD card slot (does that mean it will be able to play music direct from SD cards plugged into it?), an accelerometer (currently it is used to 'wake' the unit up from standby if you move or pick it up, perhaps in the future to control music by gesturing?), and even an IR control (there is now a third party application to use the IR transmitter to control other units in your stereo system).

Its Wi-Fi transceiver seemed a bit weak.  In far away parts of my house where the Wi-Fi signal is admittedly weak it would sometimes lose its signal, unlike cell phones and laptops that would generally stay locked in.  This was the only observed problem, and if your house has reasonably good Wi-Fi signal everywhere you're likely to be using the controller, it shouldn't be a problem for you.

The Controller's Rechargeable Battery

Some people have commented negatively on the fact that the remote controller uses a Li-Ion rechargeable battery, saying they'd prefer to just reload the unit with AA batteries as and when required.

This is a very foolish observation.  Because the remote control is powering a Wi-Fi transceiver, a very small micro-computer, and often powering its color screen too, it is very hard on batteries.  The Li-Ion battery lasts about three hours in normal use, and 8+ hours if left powered on in standby mode.  This would translate to something like a consumption rate of about an AA battery per hour, and the unit would have to be large enough to hold three AA batteries.  You'd end up with an inconveniently larger unit and an appalling never-ending cost from buying new batteries.

It is much easier and better to simply keep the controller in its recharging cradle when not in use.  The Li-Ion battery (the same type and size as a typical cell phone battery) can be easily removed and replaced any time you wish to.

The connection between the contacts on the controller and in the bottom of the charging cradle did not seem very good; this being the main design weakness of an otherwise excellent unit.  Sometimes I'd put the controller into its charge cradle to recharge, and come back an hour or two later to find it had not made proper contact with the connectors at the bottom.

Squeezebox Competitors

Various other companies have tried to create similar network music systems, but most of them suffer from a design limitation that makes them impractical.  They do not provide you with a useful remote control display to allow you to see your music choices on the remote.  Instead, they'll show the choices on a tiny digital display on the player unit, which typically will be on the far side of the room from where you're sitting, and unless you have extraordinarily sensitive eyesight, the information displayed is for all intents and purposes completely invisible and therefore useless.

The notable exception to this is Sonos.  Sonos make an excellent network music system that is as good as the Logitech system in almost every respect.  However, it has two big faults and one smaller fault.

Sonos is exclusively Wi-Fi based.  If you don't have a Wi-Fi network, it won't work.  Logitech can use either Wi-Fi or a wired network, and in addition to this extra flexibility, purists will understand that music propagation is slightly better via a wired network.

Sonos has a lovely controller and perhaps a better interface design.  But their controller is massively larger than the Logitech controller, and doesn't come with a charging cradle.  It needs more space on your bedside table or wherever, and you need to use both hands to use it, making it less convenient than the Logitech controller.

And, perhaps most importantly of all, the Sonos equipment is massively more expensive than the Logitech equipment.  For example, Sonos charge $400 for a controller, Logitech charge $200 (which is a way high price already).  The least expensive Sonos player costs $350, whereas a Logitech player is about $150.

A complete Logitech Duet system costs about $325.  A basic Sonos system costs at least $600.  We don't see the extra value or features in the substantial extra cost of the Sonos, and so do not recommend it.

Exciting New Alternatives to the Duet

The Squeezebox Duet is called that because it comprises two parts - a receiver and a controller.  You can also buy controllers and/or receivers individually.  Of course, having a controller, but nothing to control, makes no sense, and similarly, having a receiver but no way to control it also seems to be of no sense.

But now there are two alternatives to the controller unit included in the Duet package.

Firstly, you can now control your receiver from any computer that is running the Squeezebox software.

Secondly, you can now add a wonderful application to any iPhones or iPod Touch units you have that will provide all the functionality of a controller, but at a mere $9.99 cost (discussed in part two).

So maybe you should simply buy a player unit and use the control features in the iPhone/iPod software and/or on your computer.

Part one of a two part series on the Logitech Squeezebox Network Music System; see also :

1.  An Introduction to the Logitech Squeezebox Network Music System
Using and extending the Logitech System

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Originally published 5 June 2009, last update 21 Jul 2020

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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