An alternative to iTunes/Windows Media Player

Three posts in two days? What’s going on?!

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve started re-ripping all my music. The long term goal is to get a Squeezbox from SlimDevices (which is a network attached media player) but given the shortage of funds at present I’m content in the knowledge that my music collection will simply be more accessible when this task is complete.

Although I can play my music from iTunes on my computer, I’ve been playing around with some media streaming software called SlimServer. “Playing around” is perhaps an exaggeration — I’ve enabled the service on my NAS (and upgraded the software) — and installed some client software on my PC called SoftSqueeze, which looks like this:

SoftSqueeze

There are lots of nifty things with this setup. First and foremost, the server software is Open Source. Around it are lots of third-party plugins, and because the API/Client Protocol is also open and fairly well documented there are quite a few client applications around too (SoftSqueeze being one of them).

SlimServer has a web front-end to it, so I can control what’s playing on the media player from any computer on my network. This is perhaps of limited use given my current set-up, but when (and if) I get a Squeezebox, then I can see this being quite useful.

If you’re looking at a solution to get music from your PC or network storage to your Hi-Fi, then I’d recommend you take a look at SlimServer and the Squeezebox. It’s significantly cheaper than the Sonos products, and will fill most normal needs. (How many people really need to break their home into 32 zones and play different music in each??) If you want to try it out, then you can install the SlimServer software for free on Windows, Linux and Apple OSX (it’s written in Perl so just needs that to run), and you can download the SoftSqueeze client to try out the setup on your PC. SoftSqueeze is written in Java, so should run on most platforms too.

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