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SoundBoy
2006-02-11, 11:11
Hi folks... yes I am a new Squeezbox convert too but once in a while it is good to reconnect with reality. I bought the SB3 with high hopes, most based on raving reviews. Most of the hopes I had to burry in the meantime, because the product can simply NOT live up to them under REAL WORLD conditions. YES I mean real world, that means ADLS connection in a busy US town, once good once bad. This also means living in a house with normal walls, rooms, layouts. This also means using regular equipment available on the market. Under this conditions the SB3 is performing OK but NOT stellar. Lets face it and please do not give the .. with bandwith, antenna orientation.. blablabal.. I am a user under real world conditions and do not live in a LABORATORY setup. However I think that most SB3 customer are like me.

So here are the facts:

A SlimServer running on an IMac G3 (OS Panther, 320MB mem) is NOT fast enough to stream ACC encoded higher then 128 without audio drop outs.
(Setup, Linksys Router, 11b network, SB3 wired to the router)

A SlimServer running on an IMac G5 (OS Tiger, 1G mem) can handle it nicely
(Setup some router as above, SB3 wired to router, 11G network)

SB3 wired to my LinkSys connected to the IntenetRadio via SqueezNetwork - can not handle WMA streams without major droup outs (128kBps). At the same time any of my IMacs connected to the same Internet Radio Station at the same time is handling this JUST FINE.

I do not really care if it's the SB3 hardware or the software to blame for - we just need to face it. A normal computer on the same line is way superior to stream music streams to audio boxes. Of course the SB3 has a much better DAC and music might sound better, however if you experience that kind of audio drop outs all over the places.. then this does not really matter.

My buying advice to new "normal" Mac users like me. Make sure you have a G4 or better, a cable broadband connection and live out in the woods, then SB3 will do just fine for you.

I do love the fact that the SB3 runs without the need of a computer running, I love the display and love the remote. So I will keep the device and hope that hardware and software shall improve over the next few month and years. In the meantime I live with the dropouts.

seanadams
2006-02-11, 11:20
once in a while it is good to reconnect with reality.

Now you're sounding like my psychiatrist!



A SlimServer running on an IMac G3 (OS Panther, 320MB mem) is NOT fast enough to stream ACC encoded higher then 128 without audio drop outs.
(Setup, Linksys Router, 11b network, SB3 wired to the router)

A SlimServer running on an IMac G5 (OS Tiger, 1G mem) can handle it nicely
(Setup some router as above, SB3 wired to router, 11G network)


In the first case I expect all your problems would be solved by upgrading your router to an 802.11g model. It's a relatively minimal investment that will really improve througput and range... 802.11g makes a huge difference if you're streaming non-MP3/WMA formats.

I think the honest reality is that it CAN work just great in nearly any setup, but some minor tweaks are needed to make it sing. Admittedly we are pushing the bleeding-edge a bit in terms of system/network requirements, but I don't think the specs we need are expensive or difficult to meet.

ceejay
2006-02-11, 11:31
Hi folks... yes I am a new Squeezbox convert too but once in a while it is good to reconnect with reality. I bought the SB3 with high hopes, most based on raving reviews. Most of the hopes I had to burry in the meantime, because the product can simply NOT live up to them under REAL WORLD conditions. YES I mean real world, that means ADLS connection in a busy US town, once good once bad. This also means living in a house with normal walls, rooms, layouts. This also means using regular equipment available on the market. Under this conditions the SB3 is performing OK but NOT stellar. Lets face it and please do not give the .. with bandwith, antenna orientation.. blablabal.. I am a user under real world conditions and do not live in a LABORATORY setup. However I think that most SB3 customer are like me.



Sorry its not meeting your expectations, but please don't make the (admittedly very easy) mistake of assuming that everyone else is just like you.

I think I'm a normal user, with normal walls, and my SB2s are completely stellar in every way. I am running on an underpowered Windows box, with an 11G network. I didn't have to do anything special to make it work. This is my version of reality.

So is everyone like you? Or is everyone like me?

Or neither?


Enjoy the music, whatever it takes....

Ceejay

stokessd
2006-02-11, 11:33
I'd consider changing encoded formats that you stream to your box. From all I've read transcoding on the server side is a losing proposition. Aside from not being able to rewind and fast forward, you are pounding the snot out of your server.

I am streaming files to my SB3 with a kurobox, which is a 166 MHz processor with 64 meg of ram, nothing compared to your older iMAC. My SB3 plays flac files flawlessly and the server load is quite low. Same deal with MP3's.

I have a squeezebox and an iPOD and for me the best solution is to rip all my CD's to FLAC (and put the CD's away in boxes), and then transcode from FLAC to MP3 as needed.

I've got a directory of all my FLAC files which the slimserver uses, and then all those songs are duplicated as MP3's on my mac which iTunes manages. It's less than ideal, but I can use a small quiet server to store computer backups, and serve my music.


Sheldon

rudholm
2006-02-11, 12:16
I think at least part of the problem is that the formats you're using must be transcoded to straight PCM by your server and then sent over your wireless network at that (higher) bitrate. This is costing you both CPU and network capacity.

I'd be curious if you see these problems with MP3 files or even FLAC (which are decoded by the SB3 internally).

My slimserver isn't even in my house. I have a modest server (2.4GHz P-4 w/512KB cache and 1.5GB RAM running a 2.4 Linux kernel) in a commercial co-location facility downtown (Los Angeles) that is linked to my home router (LinkSys WRT54GS) via 3Mb/256Kb cable modem service and VPN software. The music library on my slimserver is mostly FLAC and I can play music fine, with or without slimserver's "Bandwidth Limiting" feature (which consumes a non-trivial amount of CPU on the server). FLAC files tend to be about 800kbps and I have no problems, even using both of my Squeezeboxes simultaneously.

So I really think that with some minor changes your performance troubles will disappear. If I get the performance I do from my configuration, I'm sure you can make your setup work fine, too.

SoundBoy
2006-02-11, 12:28
Hi Sean, unfortunately the IMac G3 can only handle 11b.. that's the problem.. sighh :( with the airport card. I know that the G is a big bottle neck... That's why I said.. G3 is not a good combo.. Again, I try to help others, not to blame.. Of course on the G network the stream is great.. but the connect to the Internet through the Linksys WRT54G V5 still sucks.. hey to box is wired to the router, their is not much I can do as an normal user.. just plug in the cable and ready to go.. or???

.. financially I would love to be your psychiatrist... smile.


Now you're sounding like my psychiatrist!



In the first case I expect all your problems would be solved by upgrading your router to an 802.11g model. It's a relatively minimal investment that will really improve througput and range... 802.11g makes a huge difference if you're streaming non-MP3/WMA formats.

I think the honest reality is that it CAN work just great in nearly any setup, but some minor tweaks are needed to make it sing. Admittedly we are pushing the bleeding-edge a bit in terms of system/network requirements, but I don't think the specs we need are expensive or difficult to meet.

seanadams
2006-02-11, 12:39
Hi Sean, unfortunately the IMac G3 can only handle 11b.. that's the problem.. sighh :(

Having the server -and- the squeezebox on wireless is a particularly bad setup because of the way 802.11 works - all the traffic has to hit the airwaves twice. A better solution if possible would be to attach the access point to the mac by ethernet - then it's just one wirelss hop, effectively doubling capacity.

SoundBoy
2006-02-11, 12:48
.. good point, for practicality reasons (cable running through the rooms) I was forced to wire the SB3 to the router and connect to the computer wireless. Sure enough my IMac G3 will be replaced very soon with a 11g compatible computer.. but I thought I would give it a try...



Having the server -and- the squeezebox on wireless is a particularly bad setup because of the way 802.11 works - all the traffic has to hit the airwaves twice. A better solution if possible would be to attach the access point to the mac by ethernet - then it's just one wirelss hop, effectively doubling capacity.

SoundBoy
2006-02-11, 12:49
Stokessd - interesting proposal.. I will look into that..


I'd consider changing encoded formats that you stream to your box. From all I've read transcoding on the server side is a losing proposition. Aside from not being able to rewind and fast forward, you are pounding the snot out of your server.

I am streaming files to my SB3 with a kurobox, which is a 166 MHz processor with 64 meg of ram, nothing compared to your older iMAC. My SB3 plays flac files flawlessly and the server load is quite low. Same deal with MP3's.

I have a squeezebox and an iPOD and for me the best solution is to rip all my CD's to FLAC (and put the CD's away in boxes), and then transcode from FLAC to MP3 as needed.

I've got a directory of all my FLAC files which the slimserver uses, and then all those songs are duplicated as MP3's on my mac which iTunes manages. It's less than ideal, but I can use a small quiet server to store computer backups, and serve my music.


Sheldon

EnochLight
2006-02-11, 12:52
Sorry its not meeting your expectations, but please don't make the (admittedly very easy) mistake of assuming that everyone else is just like you.
Ceejay

Agreed - I consider myself a typical user and it works fine for me. I even dabble in the betas of Slim Server and things run quite well, so...

Good luck SoundBoy!

JJZolx
2006-02-11, 13:03
> SB3 wired to my LinkSys connected to the IntenetRadio via
> SqueezNetwork - can not handle WMA streams without major
> droup outs (128kBps). At the same time any of my IMacs
> connected to the same Internet Radio Station at the same
> time is handling this JUST FINE.

IMO, this is the most interesting comparison of the bunch. What would be a logical explanation? Ther's no server software involved, and (if I'm reading it correctly) no wireless in the equation. This should be a slam-dunk for the Squeezebox.

rudholm
2006-02-11, 13:09
I agree. That is odd. If I'm reading him correctly, his SB3 isn't using wireless. It sounds like there might be something quite wrong with his DSL service.

snarlydwarf
2006-02-11, 13:13
my guess is that it's buffering is done differently between the SB and a lot of media players.

It always seems to me that when playing a remote stream, the Squeezebox starts playing much faster than something like Winamp or XMMS (I don't use WMP).

For something like Live Music Archive, this doesn't make much of a difference except in the 'feel' of things... Click 'play' and after the HTTP setup is done, the squeezebox starts playing while other media players can take a second or three longer. The squeezebox will fill its buffer in the first 10 seconds or so and eventually be waiting on archive.org.

But with 'live' streams, this may be more of an issue: if data is coming from the remote site at a fixed 128kbps, the buffer never gets a chance to fill on a squeezebox.

So the SB would have less delay from a remote stream but more susceptible to network problems.

Dan is probably the only one that could confirm or deny this theory, though.

If it's true, it would probably be a good thing to make the SB buffer more before starting playing a remote stream, perhaps as a configurable option for people who have more consistent network bandwidth who would like a 'quick start'.

SoundBoy
2006-02-11, 13:21
a bit more background:
AT&T standard wireless DSL; my router is of course linked to it. My SB3 is wired to my router (gave up on wireless in the hope the dropouts would vanish). The computer connect wireless to my router on a mixed b/g network. At the moment I have 60MB coming in through DSL and 12.6 MB going out. Mac computer, Linksys Router, AT&T wireless.. a normal user, smile - but I am glad to hear it all works for you guys.. sighh..



I agree. That is odd. If I'm reading him correctly, his SB3 isn't using wireless. It sounds like there might be something quite wrong with his DSL service.

SoundBoy
2006-02-11, 13:24
I had the feeling is must be a buffer issue - guess my players on the computer have a full buffer and just "cover" my network problems. Great point.. Would not mind to wait a few seconds till the stream is playing..



my guess is that it's buffering is done differently between the SB and a lot of media players.

It always seems to me that when playing a remote stream, the Squeezebox starts playing much faster than something like Winamp or XMMS (I don't use WMP).

For something like Live Music Archive, this doesn't make much of a difference except in the 'feel' of things... Click 'play' and after the HTTP setup is done, the squeezebox starts playing while other media players can take a second or three longer. The squeezebox will fill its buffer in the first 10 seconds or so and eventually be waiting on archive.org.

But with 'live' streams, this may be more of an issue: if data is coming from the remote site at a fixed 128kbps, the buffer never gets a chance to fill on a squeezebox.

So the SB would have less delay from a remote stream but more susceptible to network problems.

Dan is probably the only one that could confirm or deny this theory, though.

If it's true, it would probably be a good thing to make the SB buffer more before starting playing a remote stream, perhaps as a configurable option for people who have more consistent network bandwidth who would like a 'quick start'.