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Tidal streaming comes to Logitech Squeezebox and AURALiC Aries

  • Squeezebox owners have been through a lot of uncertainty these past couple of years, not least because Logitech abruptly pulled the pin on the Squeezebox Touch in 2012. That ~$300 streamer was arguably one of the highest value digital audio products of all time and they’re predictably now fetching pretty pennies on the used market.

    Left in limbo, Squeezebox Touch, Classic and Duet users have since looked to the generosity of the developer community to keep the boat afloat. 2013 saw CommunitySqueeze collaborate with the last few remaining Logitech coders to bring the first community-developed version of Logitech Media Server (LMS) to life.

    At around the same time, Adrian Smith (aka triode) addressed the shortcomings of SoftSqueeze and Squeezeslave with Squeezelite, a software-based Squeezebox emulator capable of playing PCM – including hi-res – gaplessly. Squeezelite was ported to Windows, Linux, OS X freeing users from hardware marked ‘end of life’.

    With LMS and Squeezlite running on the same host, possibilities open up. Anyone with a Mac or PC can run both server and player on a single machine. Ditto RaspberryPi pioneers and VortexBox vintners.

    And it’s not just wallet-friendly devices that benefit. Antipodes Audio’s range of servers run this same software combo and with LMS in the library management seat, plugins that enable Spotify and Qobuz integration can be installed with ease; after which you’ll find yourself browsing cloud libraries of millions of songs via a web browser or smartphone app like iPeng (iOS) or OrangeSqueeze (Android) – a revelation!


    But the streaming news of the season is lossless in flavour. Norwegian company Tidal (née WiMP) launched their lossless streaming service in the UK and USA at the very end of October to considerable fanfare and press coverage.

    AURALiC Aries owners already enjoy compatibility with WiMP Hifi and Qobuz. This month Tidal joins the throng. Enter your Tidal username and password into the Lightning DS app for instant access to a library of 25m+ songs, all streamable at CD-quality.

    If lossless streaming isn’t enough to put your separate music server on notice, consider next week’s Aries firmware update that will introduce the ability to direct-connect an external hard drive into the USB port found on its rear panel. The Aries will become server and streamer just like its LMS/Squeezelite brethren.

    However, not only is the Aries more expensive than a second-hand Squeezebox Touch (or clone) but users are restricted to its iPad-only Lightning DS control app – currently the only way to browse locally- or cloud-hosted libraries. AURALiC have an Android version slated for the beginning of 2015 with an iPhone port to arrive a few months thereafter.

    This week brings news of beta-testing Tidal’s integration with Logitech Media Server. The beta programme is open to anyone who cares to give it a whirl. I’ve experienced zero issues with stability but installation is a little more involved that just installing an app via the ‘Plugins’ section of the LMS’s settings.

    Why? Tidal haven’t coded a native app for LMS. They’ve instead opted to work with Jörg Schwieder’s new ickStream plaform. Some of you will know Schwieder as the developer of iPeng but for icksStream he’s compiled an A-team: Schwieder himself handles CEO and lead developer roles, James Fearon is a developer, Erland Isaksson is lead platform developer and Remco Derksen handles partner relations / business development. Credit where it’s due.


    Schwieder’s new ickStream service acts as an intermediary between your Squeezebox player and Tidal by storing details of your streaming service account(s) and your Squeezebox player’s address under one roof.

    Think of Tidal data as freight and ickStream as the freight forwarder. ickStream needs to know what to do with your data packets once it receives them from Tidal. It forwards them to your home network.

    With installation there be monsters. Things can get confusing pretty quickly so you might need to go through the ickStream setup instructions more than once. I did. I’ll try to summarise the process here in order to give you a broader picture of what to do but please don’t see this an invitation for tech support. That’s what the forum thread is for.

    First add the ickStream repository to your LMS plugin page, restart LMS and install the ickStream app – it should appear as a plugin at the very bottom of the page. The app will then direct you to login to the ickStream server. Your first login into ickStream website will automatically create your account. Add the Tidal service. It should now appear under ‘Services’.

    ickStream now needs to register the local player – in my case, an Antipodes DXe server – under the same account.

    Log into the ickStream plugin from within LMS and register your player. The plugin pushes the player information into your online ickStream account so that a nexus between streaming service and player can be created. You should see your player’s name inside the ickStream website under ‘Devices’. ickStream’s settings page inside LMS should also show that your player as registered.

    You should now be good to go with Tidal on your Squeezebox, VortexBox, Squeezeplug or RaspberryPi clone. Integration to locally hosted libraries is super-tight: type an artist or album name into search and you find yourself presented with a list option of where to search. For this reviewer, that’s “My Music” (local library), “Spotify” and now “Tidal via ickStream”.


    And this is the point that I’ve mentioned several times over the years: not everyone listener wants a computer in their hi-fi rack or lounge room. Streamers like the AURALiC Aries and Logitech Squeezebox make it possible to banish companion servers to the basement. If you’ve an LMS-based device that doubles as Squeezebox player you can potentially dispense with that service altogether and get your CD-quality fix from the cloud. You don’t own the songs but it feels like you do.

    I’ve written previously about the need for portables to tap the great gig in the sky. The same holds true for streamers like those from AURALiC or anyone using the LMS/Squeezelite platform.

    Relying on the cloud is not without its limitations and risks but at US$20/month it removes the financial strain of being forced to buy everything if you wanted to enjoy it losslessly; I suspect Tidal will make listeners far more selective about which titles they choose to own. And with song selection and playback sitting so cozily next to one’s local library, Tidal on a Squeezebox-based system is gonna make a LOT of people happy.

    One final thought: Tidal playback via LMS and ickStream isn’t yet gapless meaning it isn’t yet ready for prime time with DJ mixes, live albums and the next ubiquitous audiophile album, Pink Floyd’s The Endless River.

    And if you’re not sure if your system will resolve the differences between lossless and lossy streaming or if you have the ears for it, Tidal have introduced a test here. Pick the difference on 4 out 5 lossy vs lossless comparisons and you win a 14-day Tidal Hifi trial.

    Further information: Tidal | ickStream

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. The gapless issue is a bit of a spoiler, especially when Qobuz does it. There’s a great Qobuz plug-in for LMS too (other than the ickstream option) that works with the echonest powered ‘SmartMix’ plugin.
      This is a great combination for discovering new music.

      • So Qobuz *is* gapless? And yes, their LMS plugin doesn’t necessitate ickStream.

        No gapless on Tidal isn’t great but its a shortcoming that’s dwarfed by the sheer volume of their library. Hopefully they’ll sort it in due course.

    2. That’s (potentially) great news. As I’ve mentioned before here, I’d like to give streaming a serious chance, especially now that it can be lossless, but at the same time I don’t want to be forced to use some specific program/client for playback. If Tidal (or Wimp, as it would be for me in Sweden) could be fed to LMS in a decent way, I will certainly give it a try.

    3. My problem is streaming doesn’t sound as good as a download on Qobuz, haven’t tried Tidal yet. Is it my system or do you find a difference too?

      • I’ve not really done enough listening to call it either way. I guess it largely depends what software you’re using to play back each type of file. Now that I’ve Tidal running on the Antipodes server, Squeezelite handles both cloud and local.

    4. Thanks for this great article, DAR. Regarding gapless, that’s something that will come with ickStream I guess. We are just providing the files and not sorting out the rendering. But hang on – ickStream is still in beta 😉

    5. John,
      Thxs for this post. Right now I am learning how to ‘mod’ my Squeezebox Touch server.. and to think I was going to sell my SBT and its external PSU.. glad I didn’t.

      You must have been reading my mind… below is a post I put on head-fi just a week ago..

      Observation on High Res streaming services.

      For the most part, a good many Music Streamers cannot stream these high res sources directly into their hardware systems. I think Linn and Auralic can do this to some degree, and fairly sucessfully. But my PS Audio Perfectwave DAC MkI cannot accept these streams directly. But rather an iOS device/and or PC usually needs to be inserted into the equation, which is then connected to a music streamer device like a PWD.

      I find it a bit ironic that multi-thousand dollar streamer devices cannot do this, and require a smartphone app (or the like) to make it work. Seems a bit backward to me, as we are moving to more high res sources/services, (on the software side) but on the hardware side, it has yet to be ‘plug and play’… not that any of this ever was…. Also, I guess this issue also relies on the software capabilities within the DNLA compliant device controlling the music server, the control point if I am not mistaken as to definitions and devices.


      • We need clarify what you mean by ‘High Res’ streaming services; I assume you’re referring to Tidal, Wimp and Qobuz? They are Redbook/CD quality data feeds. To my knowledge, no company yet offers hi-res audio (anything above 16/44.1) as a stream, only downloads like that of HDTracks and Pono.

        The PS Audio PWD MK1 is a D/A converter. The Squeezebox, AURAliC Aries and Linn are streamers. Both are required to stream from the net. The latter boxes capture the stream and send it down the line to the D/A converter. As you say, if you don’t have a streamer you’ll need a computer.

        Are you looking for a box that does lossless streaming AND D/A conversion? The Squeezebox Touch does precisely that but its internal DAC is no match for your PS Audio.

        • Thanks for your clear articulation of these technical issues. I still struggle to understand and am working toward getting TIDAL streaming.

          PS. The Squeezebox products have both optical and coax DIGITAL as well as 3.5mm stereo and RCA ANALOG outputs. The digital outs bypass the internal DAC.

          • Yup. Used to own several myself, feeding DACs over their coaxial outputs. Their achilles is the quality of the digital output. Better to install the EDO plugin and pipe digital out via a USB-S/PDIF converter.

            • Thanks. I’ll study that. So…if I may ask, where did you go after the SBTs for a streaming device?

            • You may indeed ask. I went to a MacMini + USB-S/PDIF converter which has since been bettered by the AURALiC Aries and (especially) Antidpodes music servers. If you install LMS on a Mac/PC, it will run as server *and* Squeezebox emulator client via Squeezelite.

    6. Indeed, I used ‘high res’ out of context. I’m so used to streaming low quality internet radio stations, even red book seems high res. but certainly not the quality of downloads fron HD Tracks, Linn Records or NAIM Audio all which I’ve downloaded. John, thxs to your article my SBT is successfully sending TIDAL to my PS Audio PWD. Last night I had major discoveries among those 25mm tracks. TIDAL app plays well from 6 plus phone into an iFi Micro DSD as well.

    7. Hi John,

      OraStream runs a classical music service that streams 24-bit resolution audio on PC browsers and iOS/Android apps (Classical! HD). As far as I know, it’s the only one doing so.


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