Revisiting the Squeezebox and other nerd audio stuff

I’m trying to price this thing out…. on the one hand an iPod touch and a used 802.11g Airport Express base station with SPDIF optical out is about $250.  This requires a laptop running iTunes to be on and feeding it the music which is in turn controlled by the iPod Touch “Apple Remote” app.  So this is one relatively cheap option, really.  

Another option is the Squeezebox Classic which also can be found for about $200 plus $200 for the Touch running iPeng Squeezebox Remote Control app ($10), so for ~$410 you have perhaps a slightly more robust playback system that is open source and can play FLAC or any other file format for that matter and doesn’t require iTunes, but still requires a server/laptop running SlimServer.  Sonos sells a similar setup and they also have a free iTunes app.  The one cool thing about the Sonos is that no laptop is required, it seems it can pull directly from the TC as a NAS but that would be $350 + $200 iTouch.  

Maybe the cheapest, and I think I might try this route first since I already bought the damn Time Capsule which functions as a pretty good NAS / Backup server… For $25 Rogue Amoeba sells AirFoil which allows you to send your iTunes stream to either an Airport Express unit or any other computer on network (AirFoil Speakers is a free download) which means I could simply stream directly from one of our newer Mac laptops to the old thing in the closet which is plugged into the Edirol UA-5.  It’s a free download with 10 minute tests.  All the data would be on TC or a USB drive.  This might be the solution I was looking for.

Okay.  I tested it.  It works.  So that’s an option.  The final option is just the $50 Airport Express, no iPod Touch remote, and simply stream from the laptop to the base station SPDIF > DAC > Analog Out and control on the laptop as a remote.  The fan on the old laptop is really loud.  If can figure out a way to quiet it down.

Okay. Weirdly the stream from 89.9 WKCR doesn’t work in Winamp under Win2k on the old laptop.  So I’m back to the iTunes Foobar2000 plugin scenario and that seems to work fine, it’ll play any internet stream I give it.  Oh well.

Multi-Plugin for iTunes 7.0.2 w/ Foobar & Windows 2000

Oh the dream!  You cannot just let it go.  I swapped in C’s old 12GB (huge!) ATA 2.5″ laptop drive into the ‘ole Dell Inspiron 4000 and Windows 2000 booted up normally, ever so slightly faster than Windows XP SP3. This HD drive was from an even slower Dell that had died on me, something like 733 MHz.  So now what?  

  1. Install Foobar 9.4.5  (last version that runs under Windows 2000)
  2. Install foo_out_ASIO.dll legacy version 1.2.5 & or the Kernel Streaming component plugin
  3. Un-install all existing Quicktime and iTunes components
  4. Restart machine, download and install Multi-Plugin + iTunes 7.0.2
  5. Post installation disable all Quicktime and iTunes automatic updates
  6. Configure Foobar2000 for your ASIO or Kernel Streaming sound card
  7. Load iTunes library and listen to playback.
Thanks to Mr. Connock for the tip.  I had never heard of this particular plugin to bypass the kmixer before, and there is some debate of course as to whether this really does anything.  Honestly, Windows Vista does a much better job (so I hear, get it?) with not molesting audio streams so if you have the horsepower by all means upgrade to Vista.  Don’t let me or Bill Gates or Jerry Seinfeld stop you.  
I was surprised how easily this setup considering the lengths I gone through with XP to achieve similar results.  So yeah, I’m happy to have iTunes to manage the music and Foobar2000 to send the ASIO stream out.  The best of both worlds if you will.  Of course if you use an actual iPod you’d need to either have a different user account with a newer version of iTunes or an entirely separate system for docking/syncing as iTunes 7.0.2 is woefully out of date.  In theory an external drive could share or serve the music over your LAN, but I just want to listen to the music, man.
Multi-Plugin + iTunes 7.0.2

Multi-Plugin + iTunes 7.0.2