Logitech may have killed the Squeezebox
The Squeezebox, a great and beloved stereo component for streaming music from a computer and various online services, seems to be dead.
Logitech announced new headphones, and wireless speakers yesterday, expanding its Ultimate Ears (or UE, depending on who you ask) brand from in-ear headphones and custom in-ear monitors to include full-size headphones and additional speakers. They also added a new model that looked like an updated version of the Squeezebox Smart Radio.
My assumption was that they were bring the less-well-known Squeezebox brand under the better-known Ultimate Ears brand. But it seems that they’ve killed most of the current line, and the new UE Smart Radio is radically different. I first saw this through AudioStream, Stereophile’s computer audio site, seems to have been sussed out by in various Squeezebox forum threads (1, 2, 3).
And, indeed, Logitech’s Wi-Fi music player page redirects elsewhere and no longer has any of the Squeezebox items, with the exception of the new UE Smart Radio. Various pages that formerly featured individual Squeezebox models, like this one for the Squeezebox Touch now directs to the page for the Smart Radio.
The seemingly-departed Squeezebox began life as the SlimP3 player, and Slim Devices was eventually purchased by Logitech. The Squeezebox was a nice middle-ground between a really simple streaming solution like the Apple Airport Express/Apple TV, and a fancy whole-home audio system like Sonos. I had one for a while and it was a great device, with a highly configurable server back-end that could make it work exactly how you wanted it to. Ultimately I decided that the Airport Express setup fit with my usage better, but I loved the Squeezebox while I had it.
It seems likely that it was that fun back-end server (which ran on your computer) may have been too complicated for many consumers. The best thing that could happen at this point is that Logitech brings other Squeezebox models back with their new, cloud-based backend server software that’s used with the Smart Radio. But if the Smart Radio is it, RIP Squeezebox. And if it isn’t, there will still be a community of loyal Squeezebox models mourning the software that they’ve tweaked, configured, and contributed to.
Could be a good time to start an “Open Squeezebox” Kickstarter project. I hope this fate doesn’t await Ultimate Ears down the line.
Update: Logitech has issued a statement (thanks to Engadget for providing the link, perhaps a bit belatedly. Looks like they’re not forcing the new software on older models, though at the moment, the older hardware still looks dead.