The music industry has experienced massive upheaval since it went digital back in the Eighties. First the Compact Disc with its scratch-free playback and handy form factor quickly took mass market away from vinyl.
We’re now in the throes of another great shift in the way we experience music, with compressed music formats and music downloads – as popularised by Apple’s ubiquitous iPod and iTunes – moving the source of playback away from discrete media such as CD to whatever storage media is available.
Technology companies and, belatedly, audio firms are beginning to realise the potential of such a shift not only for portable audio, but also for music in the home. And it’s in the arena of wireless multi-room music systems that we’re seeing the most development. We’ve already two quite different products this year from Philips and Sonos and were particularly impressed with the latter. The trouble is neither is particularly cheap.
Enter Slim Devices’ Squeezebox, which offers another solution to the wireless music problem, but manages to do so at a comparatively bargain price. This unassuming piece of equipment, available at just £220, costs under a third of a basic Sonos system yet it does a very similar job.
If you’ve struggled to get wireless kit working before, you’ll be glad to hear that the Squeezebox is a dream to install. Once the SlimServer software is installed on your main music PC, running through the network setup wizard on the device itself is a doddle – you’ll be streaming your digital music files to your existing hi-fi setup in a matter of minutes. The Squeezebox supports WEP and WPA security encryption too, so you’ll have no worries about the neighbours crashing in on your wireless music-driven party and putting on music you’d thought you’d long since resigned to the bottom of the CD rack.