Buying a SoundBridge Radio

June 6th, 2009

A day or two ago, I asked for suggestions for a tabletop MP3 player. I got lots of good ideas — thanks! The two most common were the Roku SoundBridge Radio and the Nokia N800.

I’ve ordered the SoundBridgeRadio. I spent some time looking over its website, and it really impressed me for several reasons:

  • It’s one all-in-one device with Wifi, FM and AM tuners, speakers, even an SD card slot and atomic clock shortwave receiver.
  • It has explicit support for Linux. Roku actually sponsors the Firefly Media Server (package mt-daapd in Debian), which will serve up music to this and other devices. They also can stream from SlimServer. In general, it supports any UPnP AV server.
  • They publish specs for just about everything: the TCP-based Roku Control Protocol that lets you control the SoundBridge remotely; user-editable localization files; even detailed IR specs for the remote control. The only other thing I could wish for would be the firmware on the device itself being Free.
  • Their manual has a “Hey geeks, read this!” section describing telnetting to a port. People are doing some fun stuff with it.

The N800 is also a good suggestion. It has an FM tuner built-in, and of course is capable of streaming media files. I have an N810, and I just don’t think a device this size would be capable of playing loudly enough for a kitchen. So I’d have to get external speakers, and then we’re into a mess of wires and stuff — making it less portable to other rooms in the house.

One person also suggested a Chumby. It sounds like an awesome gadget, but I couldn’t find anything on their site that indicated that it could stream music from my own server. From the Internet or an iPod, yes, but not from my server.

Thanks to everyone for your ideas. I’ll post a review of the SoundBridge Radio when I get it.

Categories: Music

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Comments Feed6 Comments

  1. Martin

    The SoundBridge looks interesting. Is it capable of playing ogg files from an SD card?

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    No, but Firefly can transcode them on the fly.

    Reply

    Martin Reply:

    Can Firefly be installed on the SoundBridge? Or would that mean I would have to have another hardware switched on? If the latter: When I put my SD card with the ogg files in the SoundBridge, the files will be transferred to another machine for transcoding and I get MP3 back?

    (Probably I will wait with buying a SoundBridge until they natively support ogg vorbis…)

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    No, Firefly is the server-side software. You put that on your PC, NAS, or wherever you store your music if you want to stream it to devices such as the SoundBridge, PS3, etc.

    You can put MP3 files onto SD for the SoundBridge, and it will play those, but you’ll have to transcode them on a PC first.

  2. Anonymous

    The N800 has much louder speakers than the N810.

    Reply

  3. Jason

    One feature that the SoundBridge radio lacks, from what I can discover through
    Web searches, is support for DAB+, which is just starting to be deployed here
    in Australia and is expected to become available in various European countries
    over the next few years.

    A DAB+ receiver with a text-based user interface of some sort (e.g., telnet)
    would amply meet my needs, as I can’t see the screen display of a radio, and
    they aren’t available with built-in speech synthesis. This would also provide
    access to the text that can be transmitted as part of a DAB+ broadcast along
    with the audio.

    For streaming audio, I generally use a desktop or laptop system with USB
    headphones that also serve for telephony applications.

    Good luck with the new radio, and I’ll read the review when it is posted.

    Reply

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