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jeffmeh
2006-02-21, 21:54
Well, I received my two SB3's yesterday, and fortuitously the Presidents' Day holiday and my family being away on February vacation gave me the perfect day to play with them.

I opened the package, entered the 2 MAC addresses into my "enabled" filtering list, and plugged one of the units into the analog jacks in the front of my Pioneer Elite receiver.

Setup worked smoothly, including recognition of the wireless SSID, the assignment of a dynamic DHCP address, and an update to the current firmware. The SB3 played the first song flawlessly, then partly through the second before it stopped and could not find the network. I restarted the Belkin Pre-N router and everything seemed to play fine.

I set the second up on another stereo system (my older components which now belong to my son) with no problem.

I then listened for quite a while and decided to try to set up the first system using the co-ax digital output. To be honest, I kind of dreaded this, since the system is in a built-in cabinet (yes, any of my audiophile tendencies have had to compromise with my wife's sense of visual aesthetics) and it can sometimes take literally hours to move enough components around to get behind the receiver. I knew my karma was good when I realized that I had an open co-ax digital input in the top right corner, second input in, between an occupied co-ax one and an occupied optical one. Believe it or not, I was able to pull the receiver out a few inches and insert the cable "by feel."

The system sounds very good, although I am going to do a few blind tests between the CD changer(digital optical in) or the DVD player (digital co-ax in), and the SB3 through analog, digital co-ax, and ditital optical. Perhaps on the next holiday, lol.

The only real problem I am having is the occasional drop-out at the beginning of a song while the SB3 is trying to do its initial buffer fill. This was most prevalent when hitting "FF" in a random mix, but also happened occasionally when just letting it play through the random mix. It would be great for the SB to have some type of buffer "look-ahead" capability, to use some of its buffer to grab the intro of the next song, in case the user hits "FF." Admittedly, I do not know the intricacies of the SB's buffer management, but it seems reasonable to wonder whether it has enough memory and a fast enough processor to do this without compromising the current song's buffering. If this is a current constraint, I am certain that as memory and processor prices continue to drop that it can be solved in the future.

On the other hand, the drop-outs are infrequent enough that I can live with them for now. The wireless signal is not great in that location; it seems to fluctuate between 30 and 55%, perhaps even lower when I am not looking.

I am also putting a fairly high load on the SlimServer, running on an Infrant NAS X6. I am still ripping CDs with EAC-MAREO-FLAC & LAME, periodically having SlimServer rescan the library, periodically using Foobar to add ReplayGain, and playing with the SlimServer web interface. I suspect that the load on the X6 at the moment is about as high as it will be, assuming that I confine it to being a music server.

So, that's a long-winded way of saying that my inital experience has been very good, albeit not perfect. I am very pleased.

I think I more or less know what I am doing, but any well-thought out suggestions are welcome. The next big job will be the much-feared challenge of sorting out all the tags on the FLAC files. Good suggestions here are more than welcome.

Mark Lanctot
2006-02-21, 22:19
Wow, seems like for a beginner, you're already off and
running. :-)

You have probably identified the course of your only
serious problem - you're probably a bit
bandwidth-constrained for FLAC. It's marginal though
since you report no dropouts in the middle of songs,
so obviously the buffer is seeing you through rough
patches.

You may want to try out the NetTest plugin:

http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?PluginDiagnostics

and see what you get. 1500 kbps is the minimum for
FLAC, 2000 kbps would be better.

Since you went to all the trouble of ripping to FLAC
using EAC, advising you to experiment with bitrate
limiting would be such a waste, and since you're not
experiencing horrendous problems it may be worth
bearing with it.

However, experiment with different wireless channels -
try 1, 6 or 11 and experiment with NetStumbler,
http://www.netstumbler.com/downloads/ to see which
channels your neighbors use and which one gives you
the greatest signal.

--- jeffmeh
<jeffmeh.23m68z1140584215 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
wrote:

> The only real problem I am having is the occasional
> drop-out at the
> beginning of a song while the SB3 is trying to do
> its initial buffer
> fill. This was most prevalent when hitting "FF" in
> a random mix, but
> also happened occasionally when just letting it play
> through the random
> mix. It would be great for the SB to have some type
> of buffer
> "look-ahead" capability, to use some of its buffer
> to grab the intro of
> the next song, in case the user hits "FF."
> Admittedly, I do not know
> the intricacies of the SB's buffer management, but
> it seems reasonable
> to wonder whether it has enough memory and a fast
> enough processor to
> do this without compromising the current song's
> buffering. If this is
> a current constraint, I am certain that as memory
> and processor prices
> continue to drop that it can be solved in the
> future.
>
> On the other hand, the drop-outs are infrequent
> enough that I can live
> with them for now. The wireless signal is not great
> in that location;
> it seems to fluctuate between 30 and 55%, perhaps
> even lower when I am
> not looking.
>

jeffmeh
2006-02-21, 23:30
Mark,

Thanks. If the NetTest plugin is on the SlimServer version that is on the ReadyNAS X6, then I will give it a try. If it is not there, I do not think I can try it, because I don't believe I can add any plugins to the NAS. I was aware of that when I chose it, but found the rest of advantages to outweigh that limitation (lots of disk space, RAID redundancy, low power consumption, not taxing my computer by running SlimServer while I work, etc.).

The only other problem I encountered, and forgot to mention, is that when trying to synch the 2 SB3s they were out of synch by 1/2 second or so. I did not have any time to try to play with that, as I chose to listen to music on one of the SBs instead. All in good time....

Mark Lanctot
2006-02-22, 09:43
Mark,

Thanks. If the NetTest plugin is on the SlimServer version that is on the ReadyNAS X6, then I will give it a try. If it is not there, I do not think I can try it, because I don't believe I can add any plugins to the NAS. I was aware of that when I chose it, but found the rest of advantages to outweigh that limitation (lots of disk space, RAID redundancy, low power consumption, not taxing my computer by running SlimServer while I work, etc.).

Oops, I missed that. Yes, you won't be able to use it on the X6.



The only other problem I encountered, and forgot to mention, is that when trying to synch the 2 SB3s they were out of synch by 1/2 second or so. I did not have any time to try to play with that, as I chose to listen to music on one of the SBs instead. All in good time....

Synch is a persistent little issue that gets raised daily here. There is quite a bit of attention being paid to it because it's brought up so frequently.

jeffmeh
2006-02-23, 06:52
Well, perhaps I spoke to soon. I thought that after a couple of days of getting good performance that I had it figured out. However, when I returned from work last night the SB in the location with the shakier wireless connection began to stutter almost immediately after I turned it on. I cycled it on and off with no success. I cycled the router and the SB made it through one song before getting dropouts again. Buffer stayed at 0%, perhaps fluctuating to 1%, wireless signal strength fluctuated between 28% and 44%.

Having the second SB really made it easier to isolate the problem. I verified that it worked (in its location with a better wireless signal) by watching it fill its buffer through multiple FFs through the playlist. I then swapped it into the first location and recreated the problem.

It does appear to be associated with the wireless connection, although if those signal strength numbers are correct I would expect it to be good enough. I have achieved data transfer rates more than fast enough to stream FLAC, to other computers with wireless connection strength reportedly this bad or lower.

In any case, I tried cycling the router a few more times, each time getting the SB3 to work well for at most a song or two before having a problem. It does not seem to handle a poor wireless connection very gracefully, as a few times it powered itself down and was unresponsive to the remote.

I tried assigning a static IP address, as I had read that some had found that to solve problems between the SB3 and the Belkin Pre-N router. This did not help.

I finally reassigned the wireless from channel 1 to channel 11, and that seemed to work. I am hoping that this lasts more than a couple of days this time.

stewrt
2006-02-26, 21:05
Wireless just is'nt ready to replace cable just yet. If you have an attic or basement, or crawlspace.. Drill a few holes and run yourself some Cat5. I played with the wireless thing for a bit too, then returned it to the store. frustrating.

Goodluck
Welcome to the squeezbox family.
I like the sounds of your setup (except the wireless part)

Stewrt