Squeezecenter and Softsqueeze - how to make a great centralised music server for the office

By tonyhughes Hughes, in , posted: 23-Jul-2008 16:08

Ingredients:

1x E4800 2.4GHz C2D workstation w/4GB RAM, 250GB HDD ~$1000NZD (It does some other tasks too)
2x Logitech Z2300 THX Cert 400w RMS 2.1 speakers ~$200NZDea (Director + IT Guy)
1x Logitech Z4 2.1 ~$70NZD (Reception)
1x Ozaki 2.0 ~$20NZD (back office)
1x Logitech Squeezebox (~$350NZD) + Existing mini-system as speakers (Kitchen / Staff Room / Deck / Bar)
4x Softsqueeze 3.5 Windows software clients (connected to the speakers) (free)
1x Squeezecenter Media Server (open source) + iTunes (free)

I believe all the 'Squeeze' software is available on Windows/OSX/Linux as well.

Total cost around $1900, including a Workstation class PC that is overkill for the job (You could probably get away with a $100 P4 from Trademe).

  1. Put workstation in rack, connect to our Cisco network, confirm average max throughput of around 90Mbps.
  2. Install iTunes.
  3. Import music to iTunes.
  4. Create iTunes playlists.
  5. Install Squeezecenter.
  6. Set to constantly auto import iTunes music and playlists.
  7. Install Softsqueeze headless client on staff machines (so they can't control whats playing - just their own volume).
  8. Install Softsqueeze client on key staff machines (can control whats playing plus own volume controls).
  9. Control access (or not) to http://<hostname>:9000 (Main Squeezecenter interface) where you can search for, queue, or play, artists, albums, songs, genres, iTunes playlists, and have a master volume control for ALL players on the network, as well as general play/pause/rew etc etc.
With 3 software clients running (the Squeezebox unit hasnt actually arrived yet), we are happily rocking along to the same music in each room:
  • Network utilisation (on the workstation) averaging around 10% (100Mbps link) (No noticeable effect on our Citrix clients).
  • RAM Use (1GB installed till 2 x 2GB sticks arrive tomorrow) maxed out, but coping, just.
  • CPU utilisation constantly and evenly hopping back and forth between 5 and 15% or so.
I am very happy with it. I was a bit concerned about using our wired network for this (I considered using Apple Airport Express Base Stations), but bandwidth usage has been less than half of what I expected it to be. The clients seem to be reliable. CPU usage much lower than expected (But 2.4GHz x2 is no slouch), 1GB RAM is barely enough.

Also streams fine through to my ADSL VPN at home with no stuttering (fs/fs ADSL).

More information

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