Nick...pls. explain to me the attraction of a Squeezebox on board to you rather than a direct Ipod type feed or standard car radio. NOT...criticizing...I just don't get why people would opt for a system that requires the PC to be on and feeding the music.
Well, It depends on how much you like music
. We meet many cruisers that are happy when they hear some noise
coming out of a 1" speaker. If they have mp3's it's a big messy folder with straight copies from other cruisers all merged into that folder. If you're like that, don't bother reading on ;-)
But if you had big speakers & high quality audio equipment
at home before setting sail, with a big or even huge music collection and CD's organized so that you could quickly get the one you want to hear, then this is for you! You probably decided you can't take the CD's with you because they would fill up the boat and the same for the speakers and other equipment
. You sit in the salon
and you hear crappy sound from a car stereo and you realize you lost
a part of your life. In the beginning you swallow this as there's so much new and good things happening but after a couple of years you start dreaming about a big house with listening room or even a studio.... you want your music experience back!!
This is how to do it:
It's a lot of work. Start with buying
Amazon.com: D-Link DGL-4500 Xtreme N Selectable Dualband Draft 802.11n Gaming Router: Electronics
This is a 12V powered high quality wifi
router that will be used to connect everything aboard. Install in a central location that also gives good connectivity from the cockpit
. Test connectivity with a not so good range wifi
device like an iPod Touch.
Amazon.com: Linksys-Cisco WRT54GL Wireless-G Broadband Router (Compatible with Linux): Electronics
This is a 12V powered medium quality wifi router that can be converted to a client-routed configuration using free software
like Talisman or Tomato etc. It will replace the DSL modem
like used at home for uplink to the Internet
2.4 GHz 8 dBi Omnidirectional Antennas
An omnidirectional antenna
for fixed setup, plus cables
to connect it to the linksys or amplifier. I found a nice version that fits on the standard marine
1" threaded support like GPS
2.4 GHz 9 dBi Radome Enclosed Yagi Antennas
A directional antenna
with all cables
to connect to Linksys router or amplifier from good location on deck
(does not have to be a fixed setup). A directional antenna is always better because it reduces the noise
levels enormously as compared to an omni..... but it can't be used when you swing behind an anchor
500 mW 2.4 GHz Amplifiers with Active Power Control
A 12V powered wifi amplifier for the times you need it to get a good signal. It goes in between the Linksys and the antenna so get all the cabling, adapters etc. If you have a ground system aboard, tt's also wise to install a lightning
arrestor like you find on these pages (install those in VHF
coax lines too!). Make sure you get everything complete like power injector etc. This amplifier must be installed as close to the antenna as possible but I keep it inside the boat. Leave cables long enough so that you can disconnect it and use a coax I-connector to inter-connect the cables for when you don't need an amplifier.
Buy Wireless antenna,WiFi Antenna,2.4Ghz 5Ghz Wlan Antenna,RF connector,RF pigtail cable,Lightning Protector,802.11 a/b/g, Omni ,panel ,yagi ,Grid antenna
Buy more stuff here like the wireless USB adapter. Get cables to connect that to the amplifier. This isn't needed for this setup but it gives you flexibility and this is high quality stuff.
The computer. I have the GS-L08 which is really small with a passport size footprint and 2 inches high. It has no fans but I find that the heatsink gets too hot so I mounted a hard disk cooler with 2 mini fans on the heat sink, like this one: Amazon.com: HD Cooler 3.5" Aluminum HARD DISK DRIVE HDD Cooling Fan w/ dual fans: Industrial & Scientific
If you have more room you can also choose a Nano or Micro system. Get a 1 GHz CPU or better (I have VIA 1 GHz), max. DRAM and the largest hard drive (I have 160 GByte). You can add an external harddrive but I manage to have all my music on the internal one... yes, the harddrive is in that tiny computer too ;-) If you can't get Windows XP, you can use Linux
if you know how to use that and the computer supports it. I opted for a hacked XP set that is easy to find nowadays. The idea is to make this a low-power PC that can be left on all day. Mine uses 7W when idle, which it is most of the time when playing music.
Amazon.com: Dell 2408WFP UltraSharp 24-inch Widescreen + High Definition Flat Panel Monitor: Electronics
I have this one but found it elsewhere for a better price
. You can go smaller but remember, this is what you will use for watching DVD's or TV. The base of this model is easy to fasten to the boat and a couple of minutes with a Dremel tool will allow it to swing 360 degrees around so it can double as both computer screen
and entertainment system. Never buy a TV with computer connection if you plan to really use it for working on the computer.
Amazon.com: Sony DRX840U 20x External Dual-Layer DVD Burner: Electronics
The computer is too small for an optical drive and this one lasts and last aboard. Don't use the small USB powered drives (although it's handy to have one around too) because they wear out too fast. Used for installing software
, ripping CD's, watching DVD's etc. I mounted this under a shelve at the navstation.
Amazon.com: Logitech Squeezebox Duet Network Music System: Electronics
The Squeezebox duet which is 1 receiver plus the wifi remote
controller. The receiver is 9V DC powered so you also need a converter.
Amazon.com: Logitech 930-000054 Squeezebox Boom All-In-One Network Music Player with Integrated Speakers (Black): Electronics
The Squeezebox Boom. This one is 12V powered (up to more than 20V so no need for DC stabilizer) so you make a cord that fits you 12V outlets around the boat and the cockpit
. PERFECT for the cockpit!
Amazon.com: Logitech Squeezebox Receiver: Electronics
If you want to create more zones you add receivers. We have an extra one in the pilothouse with cheap
Logitech powered computer speakers ($30 including subwoofer)
All receivers and boom can be controlled from the controller that comes with the Duet. You can also control them from any laptop/PDA/cellphone that has wifi and web browser and my favorite: the Apple iPod Touch with the iPeng application from the AppStore.
Buck-Boost DC/DC converters 12 volts to 12 volts, 24 volts to 24 volts, 24 volts to 19 volts. DC/DC conversion
A converter to create a stable 12V supply even when batteries go below 12V or are charged at up to 14.4V or whatever. This will power the wifi routers, amplifier and the Pico PC (which needs that 12V). This is the same thing I advise to cruisers with the Asus HE1000 mini laptop
12 volt to 9 volt output DC/DC converters 10.8 Watts peak
a converter to create a stable 9V supply for the Squeezebox receiver(s). You can also find 5V output converters on these pages that I advise to power a USB hub if you need one.
Amazon.com: Western Digital My Passport Essential 500 GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive WDME5000TN (Midnight Black): Electronics
Buy a couple of these for backup of your music, photo's, movies etc. Can also be used as extra hard drive for the PC when it's internal drive isn't big enough.
Amazon.com: Acronis True Image Home 2009 PC Backup & Recovery: Software
Do not use virus scanners and other nasty programs that slow you down. Make an image of your hard drive and backups of changing data like the music. If you get a virus, restore the image and backup in minutes without re-installing software, activating etc.
dBpoweramp: CD Ripper & Audio Converter. Secure ripping to mp3, FLAC, m4a, Apple Lossless & WMA
You need the CD ripper and the music converter. You must have Internet
connectivity while ripping CD's so you get all the tags and album art. This is the best software.
Mp3tag - the universal Tag Editor (ID3v1, ID3v2, APEv2)
Download for free. This is a piece of software you will use for the rest of your life ;-)
Download for free. This is an audio player for the PC that supports FLAC, can convert between formats and can calculate and apply album and track gain. There are many players that support FLAC, like WinAmp etc. Windows Media Player and iTunes do NOT support FLAC because it doesn't allow the use of DRM (which is why you want FLAC, no restrictions!)
You have money
left? Good, because we're not done yet ;-)
Amazon.com: Pioneer GM6400F 4-Channel Bridgeable Amplifier: Electronics
The 12V powered amplifier. I have one similar. You use 2 channels for left and right channels and bridge the other two for double power to the subwoofer. This one is loud enough but only just enough.
Amazon.com: GE 23294 Audio/Video and Game Switch: Home Improvement
I have this one but there are many possibilities. You need to be able to switch the amplifier's input to either the Squeezebox receiver or PC audio out. The PC output is used when watching DVD's etc. Sometimes, the volume output from the PC is much too high (it's really a headphone output) in which case you can install in-line attenuators like these: Amazon.com: RCA LINE LEVEL ATTENUATOR 3 dB: Electronics
Amazon.com: mirage speaker omni speaker
The left and right speakers. I would choose this one: Amazon.com: Mirage Oasis OMNI 5 - Speaker - 100 Watt - 2-way - white: Electronics
but you can also get an outdoor version if you really think you need it. Don't buy the subwoofers because they need AC power and are too big to fit.
Amazon.com: marine subwoofer
The subwoofer. I advise the un-powered bazooka or just go to a good car audio place and have one custom made to fit somewhere on the boat. Mine is like that with a 10" Memphis marine
speaker and the box is hanging under the salon
table, off the floor.
We're done buying
.... apart for some cables you forgot etc. ;-)
Now, you need to rip or re-rip every CD you own using a method that results in bit-perfect copies on the computer. These need to be encoded using a lossless format such as FLAC, not
MP3 using dbPowerAmp. This is the first reason for a squeezebox: it can play FLAC natively. A lossless format does compress the music like WinZIP does, without loosing quality. In fact, the FLAC file can be converted back to WAV which will be identical as on the CD. Also, find out how to apply album and track-gain while ripping the CD's. This helps keeping all the music at the same loudness level without changing bits (the player will adjust volume if you want, it's a setting). After you have done this, you can sell your CD's to regain some of the $$$ spend on the buying part. Make backup's on those handy WD Passport drives and keep one safe far away from the boat.
If you also need mp3's for a mobile player used while jogging, you convert the FLAC files to mp3. There's software around that can do this on the fly while copying to the iPod like Media Monkey. But hard drive space is cheap
so just convert to complete library to mp3 using the dbPowerAmp music converter.
Next you need a good tagging program like mp3Tag which can deal with FLAC too and make sure all the artists, bands, composers, song- and album titles, year or original release etc. are all correct so you can find what you need without seeing the same artist 6 times with slightly different spelling etc. You will be improving that for years to come so use only the best: mp3Tag (free). Learn how to use these programs and read the Internet forums
about them. Start reading the Squeezebox forums
As I'm afraid that I am on the max. length of a post, I'll continue installation
in a new post in this thread.