SliMP3

Have been lusting after a SliMP3 home stereo MP3 component for nearly a year, and finally ordered one during MacWorld. Couldn’t resist the show discount, which left it costing almost exactly what I earned for my PHP/MySQL appearance. A fair trade. We’ve been playing it pretty much constantly for the past few days. Read on for impressions so far.

Music: John Zorn and Luli Shioi :: Kleine Leutnant Des Lieben Gottes, Der


SliMP3 in a nutshell:

– Hardware MP3 decoder, ethernet jack, vacuum flourescent display, RCA jacks, and a bit of logic on a board, packaged behind a smoke tinted faceplate.

– No storage – assumes you already have a home network and an always-available hard drive on one of your home computers, stuffed with MP3s.

– Open source server software (available for virtually any platform) runs on the host machine, broadcasts to the player over the home network. For OS X users, the server reads your iTunes database (joy of XML), so you can still manage your collection from one place.

– Controllable via remote control or through a web interface.

– No fans, no humming, no storing music on the unit. Totally transparent usage.

– No-stone-unturned details at Tom’s Hardware.

So far so good. I’ve been consistently encoding at 192kbps or better all along, so my source material is pretty good … playing through the living room rig rather than through the Cambridge Soundworks in the office — the difference is night and day. In fact I’ll go out on a limb and say it sounds terrific, although I’d still like to hear a version with digital outputs I could run through my DAC (word is a new version with digital outs is now imminent). I hope they take the opportunity to give the unit a bit more design – Apple has me spoiled for putting form on a level with function, and utilitarian gear like this seems so… utilitarian.

Took about 20 minutes to set up on a static IP, upgrade the firmware over the network, install the server software, and start navigating from the web UI. Another 20 minutes to explore the finer points of navigating the collection from the remote control (yep, you can browse by genre, artist, album, and even search by those criteria, all from the remote with the VFD – pretty incredible). Took another half an hour later that night to tweak a style sheet to my liking — the web UI is fully skinnable.

I’ve hit a few snags – it failed to pick up some albums from the iTunes database that had ambiguous metadata (?), and I miss an option to just random play the whole collection (you can randomize lists, but not the entire database). Have already heard from a developer that a fix is on the way – all this and updates at open source speed to boot. The web UI also revealed a Safari bug I hadn’t seen before – reported that.

Amy has spent more time with it at this point than I have. 30 seconds of lessons and she was off and running. When I came home yesterday she and Miles had been listening to it all day, and she had already made playlists just for Miles.

Already feeling like this (or some device like it) will be a part of our home media rig from now on. Hooked.

13 Replies to “SliMP3”

  1. and I miss an option to just random play the whole collection (you can randomize lists, but not the entire database).

    Press the play (or add to playlist) button when the “Browse Music Folder” menu item is selected and it will add EVERYTHING to the current playlist. If you have random turned on it will be randomized.

  2. This sounds a lot like the Turtle Beach Audiotron my housemate has. Basically all the functionality you described, but with digital output (and some kind of “internet radio” tuner, but I haven’t figured that out yet). The one caveat is that it uses SMB to pick up music from other machines and doesn’t know about iTunes specifically, just the ID3 tags. And so far it hasn’t been playing nicely with my PowerBook–which appears to be a Samba configuration issue on *my* end, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it is yet. (According to a web page I’ve found, other people have done this in a pretty straightforward way.)

  3. After all those mp3-box discussion group inspired attempts with mini-desktops and BeOS, even converting an iToaster, I think we may finally have found a winner. I got my SliMP3 about a month or so ago and I love it. It’s not perfect – I wish it had a digital audio out, and a built-in WiFi version would be nice, and handled server reboots more gracefully – but it’s the most elegant solution I’ve found so far. At least until we see an iPod-class answer to the Microsoft Media Center PC from Apple. (Microsoft has that concept so wrong – too expensive, bloated, etc. Who wants a PVR that gets a blue screen of death?) Glad to hear you and your family are enjoying your SliMP3, Scot!

    FYI – you can build temporary playlists from the remote as well. Browse to any artist, album, or song and press the Record button on the provided Sony remote. That will append your selection to the end of the current playlist. Don’t know if you already found that feature, but I missed it at first and find it invaluable now.

  4. Thanks for the info regarding Slimp3, I just bought one (:-))
    Was thinking of making something like this for myself but this solution is excellent.

    /\
    Vincent

  5. Scot, as always, thanks for the tip. I ordered one and it took just three days to arrive here in Belgium.

  6. Yes you did Scot and thanks again it is really very nice.
    I just installed a new 120gb hd into my FreeBSD machine so the uploading can begin (:-))

  7. I too just bought one (07-19-03). I can’t wait for it to arive. Anyone know of a good id tag editor? There are some crazy hacks out there for this hardware.

  8. Anyone know if theres some way to make the box read the itunes tags – ie. volume and trim. Would also be great if it did the crossfading effect that itunes has…any ideas?

  9. Hey Scot, I Googled for slimp3 & itunes, and guess where I ended up… :)

    Do you know whether the slimp3 server can read off an iTunes library on a PC? And how I would go about doing it?

    Other than that, loving it loving it loving it!

  10. LOL, full circle :) I don’t know the answer to the iTunes/PC question – you should probably join the slim mailing list – you’ll find a link somewhere on their site or in the docs. Pretty high traffic, but someone there will know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.