At A Glance
Great alarm clock, great user interface, comprehensive audio-format support.
No digital outputs and limited to 802.11g networks.
The Squeezebox Boom is another solid entry in a long line of great audio streamers. Logitech has mastered the art of building inexpensive, good-quality powered speakers, and the ones integrated into the Boom are no exception.
The Squeezebox Boom’s closest competition is Roku’s SoundBridge Radio, but it’s not much of a contest. Both devices can function as an alarm clock, waking you with music streamed from your PC or Internet radio stations (and both have an all-important snooze bar), but the Boom sounds better, supports more audio formats, and consumes much less room on your nightstand.
The speakers utilize a two-way design consisting of a pair of three-quarter-inch soft-dome tweeters and two three-inch long-throw woofers. Listening to the opening of “Fortune Teller,” from the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand (which we’d ripped from CD and encoded to WMA Lossless), we were pleasantly surprised by the small woofers’ ability to reproduce the boom of the traditional bass drum (which sounds distinctly different from a drummer’s kick drum).
If you want even more low end and have a powered subwoofer lying around, the headphone jack in the back of the device can be reconfigured as a subwoofer output. The tweeters, meanwhile, deliver pleasingly crisp highs. Logitech doesn’t disclose the amplifier’s output, but it delivers enough power to fill a moderate-size bedroom with sound. Push the amp too hard, however, and it will shred your eardrums with unpleasantly grating highs. There’s also a line-in jack in the back, which is handy for plugging in an MP3 player.
Given the proliferation of 802.11n Draft 2.0 routers, we’re disappointed that this Squeezebox remains limited to 802.11g. It’s not that music requires the extra throughput, it’s just that having a Squeezebox on your network prevents you from running the network in 802.11n-only mode.
The Squeezebox Boom echoes the design of the Squeezebox 3, but with a smaller display, a collection of buttons, a large knob on its face, and, of course, those built-in speakers. Most of the buttons perform typical playback functions (play, pause, skip forward/back, and volume control), while the knob and a few buttons are used to navigate the onscreen menus (the knob can also be used to adjust the volume). You can store favorite tracks, radio stations, or albums in six preset buttons beneath the display, so they can be recalled with a single button press.
One thing that’s sorely missing from the front panel (it’s on the infrared remote) is a Home button that takes you to the device’s root menu. The only way to get there using the front-panel buttons is to repeatedly mash the Back button. You can also control the Boom using the remote that comes with the Squeezebox Duet, which is outfitted with a color LCD.
If you’re looking for a general-purpose audio-streaming box, as opposed to an alarm clock, you’ll be better served by the Squeezebox Duet or the Squeezebox 3 paired with high-quality self-powered speakers (Axiom Audio’s Audiobyte and Audioengine’s A2 or A5 are good choices). One reason is that the Boom lacks a digital output, so you can’t use an outboard DAC or integrate the Boom into your hi-fi system. And if it’s a multiroom system you’re after, no one does it better than Sonos.