Since Logitech discontinued its Squeezebox Touch and then, later, dropped out of developing its accompanying server software, the SqueezeBox developer community has stepped in to pick up the slack (and then some). Author of the Enhanced Digital Ouput triode has also coded Squeezelite, a headless software emulator that nails the holy trinity of digital playback: Redbook, hi-res PCM and DSD, all played back gaplessly.
With close ties to the SqueezeBox community the chaps behind VortexBox are switching to SqueezeLite for direct USB playback in their forthcoming 2.3 version. That is, they’re ditching Music Player Daemon (MPD).
Mark Jenkins has pre-empted this move by announcing that each new VortexBox-ing Antipodes server will ship with SqueezeLite installed as its core playback engine. Bye bye MPD. Jenkins has cited the slow development of both MPD itself and its control clients as additional reasons to make the switch.
MPD can be controlled directly by MPD client software on iOS/Android mobile devices (with gapless playback) or indirectly by SqueezeBox client software (but without gapless playback).
Having purchased an Antipodes DS Reference server upon completion of my 6Moons review, MPD has been its library management and playback engine of (Hobson’s) choice these past six months. Squeezebox Server is installed but it sits apart from MPD, which has proven itself to be lightning fast with both client-side library navigation and server-side database refreshes – new additions show up almost immediately.
That said, MPD’s control clients (remote apps) are not without their quirks. ‘Quirks’ being a more friendly fill-in for ‘annoyances’. The developer of MPDroid has only recently sorted proper cover art display (but you’ll need to sign up to the beta programme to get your hands on the fixed version). mPad infuriatingly displays/plays songs in alphabetical order when browsing via folder structure. #epicfail. Theremin for OS X is fast, lightweight but somewhat plain to look at. Feature-rich it is not.
Existing Antipodes DS/DS Reference/DX owners can have Jenkins remotely connect to their server to apply the update. My server was updated this weekend.
Replacing MPD with SqueezeLite offers some important advantages: compatibility with DACs is broadened and because Squeezelite is fully integrated with SqueezeBox Server it opens the door to control apps like iPeng and Squeezepad. I’m now using Orange Squeeze (AU$5.50) on my Android device/s and it’s quite a bit better than MPDroid.
Squeezebox Server returns the ‘New Music’ category to music library navigation. It’s something that the MPD/MPDroid combo didn’t offer. New additions don’t show up instantly – a scan for ‘new and changed music’ is required. This can be executed from within the maintenance settings of Orange Squeeze; iOS apps offer similarly functionality. If not, setting up Squeezebox Server to perform a daily scheduled scan is a trivial matter once an initial full library scan has been completed – allow 90 mins per terabyte of FLAC.
Better still, Squeezebox Server plugins fold streaming services into the Antipodes listening experience. That means Spotify and Pandora can enjoy the benefits of Jenkins’ custom playback scripts – better sound quality innit. That Spotify integration is so seamless it got me wondering about the possibility of integrating Qobuz’s lossless streaming service, thus denting the need to purchase digital files outright.
Talking of which, in a broader sense Squeezelite sounds a bit better than MPD; it offers more supple, reflexive micro-dynamics and a slightly more fluid delivery. The delta isn’t enormous but it’s there.
To recap: The Squeezelite update allows for better remote control apps, a ‘New Music’ category, slower library refreshes(!), Spotify/Pandora/MOG streaming, slightly better overall sound. Not bad for a free update.