Whole House Music

Logitech Squeezebox Touch
We both love music of all types, and we like to have music throughout the house. For about 10 years we've had our digital music streamed to a number of Logitech Squeezebox players. They are high quality components which sound good and can be controlled from PC, Android or iOS.

So it was a real disappointment when Logitech announced, unexpectedly, in 2012 that the entire range would be discontinued - only a few months after I had bought my last one. But everything still worked and sounded good so there didn't seem any reason to panic.

Logitech Squeezebox Radio
Logitech has continued to support the software and everything has carried on working more or less fine, even with new features occasionally added - so we recently were able to add support for Spotify even though that service hardly existed when the Squeezebox was discontinued.

Our five Squeezeboxes have soldiered on, still giving good service but looking increasingly dated and with an interface that's clunky by today's standards. With each Windows or Android update it all seems to get a little slower (maybe it's just that everything else gets faster) and we've recently started getting fairly regular crashes.

Time for a change. But to what? There are so many choices today. We wanted fairly small speakers that could fit in without being too obvious. While we were after a good sound, we were realistic about the true fidelity of speakers which are only about 8 inches tall.

Sonos - and its limitations

Sonos One
Sonos has been around for years and is probably the most popular brand of 'wi-fi hi-fi' speakers, so this is where I started my search.

I could see that it has some limitations but I reasoned that I could live with these. The product range is solid and I succumbed to the herd instinct.

The main limitation that I could see was that our collection of high resolution music files (about 10% of our music library) wouldn't play at all though Sonos. But I thought that this was a compromise worth making to get a popular, reliable product with a good future.

Having purchased a couple of Sonos One speakers, I almost immediately realised something that my pre-purchase research hadn't picked up: Sonos can only work with a music library of 65,000 tracks or less - possibly much less, depending on the format of the files. Our library is larger than this so, having established that there isn't a reliable way around this limitation, the speakers had to be returned.


Bluesound Pulse Flex
Bluesound doesn't have the limitations of the Sonos system and also claims better sound quality, putting itself at the 'audiophile' end of the market.

Whether the speakers sound better than Sonos is a matter of personal taste but, before returning the Sonos, I was able to do a quick A-B comparison.

Both speakers process their music but I found that the Sonos sounded more processed: the bass sounded quite boomy and vocals sometimes sounded harsh. I felt that after a while, listening to the Sonos was tiring because it was trying too hard to sound like a large speaker.

By comparison the Bluesound is more flat - that is, it sounds more neutral, less processed and warmer. Listening to the Bluesound for long periods is a pleasure and, for such a small speaker, it reveals a lot of detail in the music.

So we now have three Bluesound speakers dotted around the house, bringing us our favourite music wherever we are. With luck they will give us pleasure for many years.