Computers, Gadgets and Beyond!

Logitech Squeezebox Duet

The Logitech Squeezebox Duet is an audio player done right. What you get for the money is the missing link between your stereo, your ripped CD collection and your couch/sofa/comfy chair/bed/kitchen sink/patio/back yard. The starter package consists of a remote control, a power charger for the remote and a small black box that connects to your stereo. The only bad part is that I’ve seen coat hangers that come with more instructions than the Duet. But in Logitechs defense it must be said that what little documentation exists is probably more than the average user needs to get this up and running. If you get stuck download the PDF manual which tells you everything in detail.

Logitech Squeezebox Duet

Unboxing wasn’t too interesting. Remote, rechargeable battery for remote, docking station for charging remote, receiver box, wall wart for receiver and some cheap audio cables (gold plated!). And some limited documentation that basically tells you that what you just bought is a Logitech Duet. In case you had forgotten. Depending on your world region, the power supplies will come with replaceable power plug types. Easily assembled so no worries there.

My remote battery was good to go, but you may or may not place the remote in the charger for a while before commencing the installation. When switching on the remote for the first time, which it actually does automatically once you insert the battery, it will ask you a few questions. What you answer depends slightly on your local setup. You see, one of the brilliant moves here was to make the remote use Wi-Fi to talk to its surroundings, not infrared, radiowaves or Bluetooth that other remotes tend to use. The good part is that you only need to be within Wi-Fi range to use the remote. The bad part is that it requires more initial setup. But it’s very straight forward.

If you have an existing Wi-Fi network, you can tell both the remote and the receiver box to use that. Second option is using your Wi-Fi for the remote but to connect the receiver box using a network cable. And lastly, if you do not have a Wi-Fi network at home at all, you can connect the receiver box to your network using a cable and actually use the receiver as a Wi-Fi bridge for the remote. Also a viable option if your base station is located too far away from where you’ll normally be using the remote. It must be said that the remote does not have the best Wi-Fi antenna in the world.

Depending on your setup, your Wi-Fi SSID (aka Network Name) and optional security key might be needed at this point. It groks WEP, WPA and WPA2. I went for network option number two just for fun, as I had both Wi-Fi and regular network available. Which means the remote talks Wi-Fi to my ADSL modem while all music is transferred to the receiver box over the structured gigabit network at home (this is where you should think: overkill, and be right :-). Telling the remote the SSID, security key and which part of the world I was in concluded the setup there, and the remote was happy.

Connecting the receiver to your stereo can be done either over digital (both coax and fiber) or analog. It will also start up as soon as you put power on, just as the remote did. A small multi coloured light at the front will tell you what its doing. It has eleven modes, including “blinking purple”. Which incidentally indicates an unrecoverable hardware error, so if you see that one then it’s time to call support. Mine booted up, asked for an IP from my DHCP server and settled on a blue LED colour which indicated that all had gone well but that it did not see any music sources.

The remote noticed that the receiver box had come on line and took control over that device after asking me if that was what I wanted. At about this point in time, you will be shown the receiver box ID, make a note of this as you will use it to register for on line services. So now I had a working remote, and a working receiver. Time to face the music. Er, or something like that.

If you do not have a computer in the house with music on, you can connect to Logitechs SqueezeNetwork. Through that you can get access to Pandora, Rhapsody, Last.fm and a host of other services. Some are free(I presume) and some are pay as you go. Once you create and account you fiddle with the remote and your receiver will register with the service. No money changing hands yet, so this is safe to do. Bit vague on where the radio stations on the remote came from as I installed a local music server before going through all the options on the remote, but this may be where.

So, networked sound should now be streaming through your speakers, controllable from afar.

If you have a local computer with music on though, I strongly recommend installing the server software called SqueezeCenter. It supports Windows, OSX, Debian and RPM-based Linux distros. In addition to this, a tar.gz file is available for any platform that can run perl 5.8. Excellent.

I added the SlimDevices/Logitech Ubuntu repository to my 64-bit Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy server and installed the SqueezeCenter that way. Only problem I had was that I needed to edit my AppArmour settings for MySQL to allow accessing the directories that SqueezeCenter wanted for its databases. Yes, the software uses a MySQL database as a backend to store information about your audio files. It is bundled on most platforms though, so you do not really have to worry about that part. After having fixed the AppArmour config, the system started right up. Pointing my browser at port 9000 on the server showed me the admin gui. First major mistake from Logitech here, not password securing this gui. Anyone with access to your server on that port can get your stereo to play Billy Ray Cyrus at volume 11 in the middle of the night. Provided that your stereo is on that is.

There is only one real configuration option worth mentioning in the SqueezeCenter, and that is where your audio files are located. Type in that and press Scan, and it will go through the lot and add relevant information to the database about every file. This took about a minute per 7-800 songs in my setup, your mileage will of course vary. Later updates go by at about 10-15 times this speed and can be scheduled to run at regular intervals in the SqueezeCenter.

Go to Music Sources on the remote and your SqueezeCenter installation will show up. Select this as source and start browsing/playing/being happy.

The remote can control a number of receiver boxes, and they’re available separately. I’m seriously considering one for the kitchen sound system as well.

For the more techical minded hacker, there is quite a lot you can do with the system. For example the remote has an “enable remote login” option that when checked will start an ssh server on your remote. And you can log in to find out that your remote is in fact a small embedded Linux computer!

ok@thinkpad:~$ ssh -l root
root@'s password: 

This network device is for authorized use only. Unauthorized or improper use
of this system may result in you hearing very bad music. If you do not consent
to these terms, LOG OFF IMMEDIATELY. 

Ha, only joking. Now you have logged in feel free to change your root password
using the 'passwd' command. You can safely modify any of the files on this
system. A factory reset (press and hold add on power on) will remove all your
modifications and revert to the installed firmware.

# uname -a  
Linux (none) 2.6.22-P7 #60 Fri Mar 7 11:19:23 PST 2008 armv5tejl unknown
# cat /proc/cpuinfo
Processor       : ARM926EJ-S rev 5 (v5l)
BogoMIPS        : 99.53
Features        : swp half fastmult edsp java 
etc etc etc

And it doesn’t stop there. The whole user interface on the remote is written in a scripting language called Lua and is fully modifiable. You can add extra features, shuffle menu options, skin it etc etc. Download a Tetris-clone and install it to play that on the remote. Can’t be that long until someone ports Doom. 🙂 There isn’t a lot of third party addons yet, but I predict that is only a matter of time. Weather, stock tickers, home automation control… And contrary to what video media player manufacturers like Mvix and PopcornHour do, Logitech actually encourages development in this area. There are a ton of utilities for the old Squeezeboxes and history will repeat.

Ready to buy a Logitech Squeezebox Duet Network Music System ? That link will earn me a commission btw, so feel free to just jump to Amazon and purchase on your own or perhaps from some other vendor. I’d really appreciate the business though!

Questions? Things you want me to test? Pictures of it in action?

2 Comments to “Logitech Squeezebox Duet”

  1. Just to clear up one thing: the server can be password protected. You’ll find it under the Advanced tab on the setting screen. Use the pull-down to select Security and set up the username/password combo you want.

    Jim Carlton
    Product Marketing
    Logitech SMBU (the Squeezebox team)

  2. Yes, you can password protect Squeezecenter BUT this will effectively also prevent the Receiver/Controller from accessing it – result: No music!

    This is a major bug which I am sure has top priority for Squeezecenter 7.1!

    Mikkel – a happy Duet’er


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