Beginners Guide To Connecting
Unless you have a Squeezebox Boom or Squeezebox Radio (which has its own built in speakers), to actually hear the wonderful music coming out of your Squeezebox, you will need to connect it (directly, or indirectly via some kind of amplifier) to a set of speakers. The Squeezebox has several different connectors to do this.
You will find:
- analog left/right RCA jacks, coloured white for left, red for right
- coaxial digital, an orange RCA jack
- optical digital, a square door with a red light behind it
- analog headphone, a small plug (not available on Transporter or Squeezebox Receiver)
Note that all of these connectors can be used simultaneously to connect to several pieces of equipment, and you can split any of these connections using a splitter.
Boom only has a 3.5 mm stereo line out (analog) which is configurable for headphone our subwoofer out. Select headphone out and see below.
A note on the headphone jack
The headphone jack on the Squeezebox2 and Squeezebox3/Squeezebox Classic should be used to power low-end headphones only. It is internally connected to a small amplifier which is suitable only for use with low-end headphones. It is available only on the standard Squeezebox model.
High-end headphones have increased power requirements which will not be met by this small amplifier. Other suppliers produce separate headphone amplifiers which you would connect to the Squeezebox's analog left/right connectors, although some high-end headphone amplifiers may have a digital input.
Although most self-powered computer speakers and some of the equipment listed below may have the necessary 1/8" (3.5 mm) stereo input connector that would match the Squeezebox's headphone output, it is inadviseable to use the Squeezebox's headphone output with anything other than low-end headphones. The signal is already amplified and any equipment below that contains an amplifier will amplify the already-amplified signal. This will make for very poor sound quality and is not recommended. Instead, use the Squeezebox's analog left/right RCA outputs, which are unamplified, along with an adapter cable that has left/right RCA connectors at one end and a 1/8" (3.5 mm) stereo connector at the other end. Such adapter cables are widely available and do not have to be expensive.
Boom's line out, when configured as a headphone out, does not have these limitations and can be used as a conventional line out.
Analog versus digital
Some of these connectors are digital, some are analog. Which connector should I use, analog or digital?
Analog connection methods
Here are the various methods of connecting speakers to your Squeezebox, in rough order of increasing cost:
- Analog left/right to self-powered computer speakers
- Headphone connector to headphones
- Analog left/right to separate headphone amp
- Analog left/right to boombox
- Analog left/right to bookshelf/compact stereo system
- Analog left/right to monitor speakers (self-powered speakers)
- Analog left/right to stereo system
- Analog left/right to A/V receiver
- Analog left/right directly to power amp
- Analog left/right to preamp
Note that if you are connecting to a stereo / receiver / pre-amp you may have a choice of several sets of inputs to use, labelled "AUX" or "CD" for example. It doesn't usually matter which you use, they are electrically identical. Just make sure you do not use the input labelled "Phono" as this is intended for record players (remember them?) and will sound horrible.
Digital connection methods
Both coaxial digital or optical digital connectors can be used. Which is better, coaxial or optical? Not all the equipment listed below will have the necessary digital inputs, but some examples of these pieces of equipment will:
- Digital to self-amplified computer speakers
- Digital to bookshelf/compact stereo system
- Digital to monitor speakers (self-powered speakers)
- Digital to A/V receiver
- Digital to high-end headphone amp
- Digital to preamp
- Digital to separate DAC (digital-to-analog converter)