Logitech announces termination of mysqueezebox.com - consternation ensues!

I've posted in the past about the Squeezebox network music players, most recently owned by Logitech until discontinued in August 2012. These devices require a network connection to a server - either an instance of Logitech Media Server (LMS), running on the local network, or the Logitech-provides server at mysqueezebox.com (MSB). The two server systems do have functional overlap which does cause confusion in the user base, of which more later. However, on 25th January 2024 the announcement was made via the support forum that the MSB service would be terminated in February 2024.

Squeezebox users seem to fall into three groups - those that use LMS as their server, those that use MSB, and those that use both. I am in the first category, so I'm not affected by the termination of the service. But the two server systems, and the points at which they interact are causing some confusion.

LMS uses a series of plugins (many developed by the community) which provide for connection to streaming services (Spotify and Qobuz), and to various systems for internet radio access. This requires a computer to be operational whenever music or streaming services are required.

MSB provides a way of connecting to internet radio without operating a local server. from reading the support forums, I think there are a significant number of Squeezebox device users who use the devices exclusively for accessing internet radio, and for these users, there is some irritation that to keep using those devices they will now need to set up a local server. In some cases, the users are concerned about the technical hurdles they'd need to overcome to be able to set the server up.

Part of the confusion around the two servers is that some LMS plugins, including those to access Pandora, TIDAL, Deezer and the Tunein radio services require MSB to handle the authentication. For internet radio, there are other LMS plugins that can replace TuneIn, but for those three streaming services there doesn't appear to be a way to continue using them via LMS after the MSB shutdown (though more complex connection routes involving other devices connecting to LMS may be possible).

My Squeezebox system indicates how one can set up a relatively cheap server for a local LMS installation. In summary:

  • I have four Squeezebox devices: A Squeezebox Classic, a Squeezebox Touch and two Squeezebox Radios.
  • I have a couple of Raspberry PI-based players set up using piCorePlayer (pCP). pCP is a stripped down Linux system that is really easy to set up and can actually be used to run LMS as well.
  • A SqueezeAmp - a tiny single board player device that includes a DAC and amplifier.
  • I currently run LMS on a 4Gb Raspberry Pi model 5. (At the moment I'm using the Raspberry Pi OS because I run a few other services that don't run on pCP.
  • The local music files are stored on a NAS device.

I don't use any services that require MSB, and while my players were registered there, my LMS was set up without MSB access. I don't use Pandora, Deezer, TIDAL or TuneIn, so the MSB shutdown shouldn't affect me.

It seems to me that Squeezebox users who require continued access to the MSB-dependent services have two basic options:

  • Ditch the SB system and move to another system such as Sonos. This could be quite a costly exercise.
  • Set up a local LMS, possibly on a Raspberry Pi. Also switch from Deezer/Tidal to Spotify or Qobuz. I think there are good substitutes for TuneIn, but not for Pandora.

I reckon that many users will just go with the first of those options. That's a shame because I firmly believe that LMS offers one of the best, if not the best, network music system out there. I also think that jumping from one proprietary system to another may not be a permanent solution: for example, Sonos got itself into hot water with retiring older devices. In many ways, modern devices can have a short life-span, as can the files played on them.

Finally, I'd note that Logitech have continued to support the MSB servers for nearly 12 years after the Squeezebox devices were discontinued. In that time, technology has advance to the point that WiFi capabilities of some of the devices are compromised by more modern WiFi standards and the devices themselves are ageing. It could be said that this is about time for the service to be withdrawn. As far as I know, the forum platform is continuing to be supported by Logitech, but I guess it's possible that when the current furore over the MSB shutdown abates the forum may be next in line.

As far as the next few years go, I'll keep going with my Squeezebox set up. I think it it superior to Sonos, BlueSound, Roon and the various proprietary systems out there. It's certainly better than Volumio (at least the last time I checked it out), which would be an obvious alternative.

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Tuesday, 05 March 2024

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