View Full Version : Problem Playing m4a Files

2006-09-04, 11:46

I've recently purchased a Squeezebox 3 and I'm quite happy with it except for one major problem.

m4a files (originally ripped from CD with iTunes) stutter and break up and are generally unlistenable.

I've installed LAME and it's showing up as 'The LAME encoder appears to be installed correctly on your system.' under Player Settings/Audio.

I've set my WLAN channel to 13 (I'm in Ireland) to differentiate it from the other APs in my area (as shown by NetStumbler) - this should minimize interference.

Under Player Settings, I'm getting 'Wireless Signal Strength' of 90+ percent.

Under Server & Network Health, I'm getting good figures except for 'Buffer Fullness' which shows 'Low' (both playing mp3 and m4a).

My wireless router, laptop and Squeezebox are all in the same room.

My setup is...

Dell Latitude D810 with Intel PRO Wireless 2915ABG wireless NIC.
Netopia 3347NWG Router.
SlimServer 6.3.1

(My music is in an 'iTunes' directory structure which is stored on a FreeCom 160GB external USB2 drive - though I don't think this should have any bearing).

RealPlayer/QuickTime is installed and working - RealPlayer & iTunes both play back m4a files perfectly.

I've trawled the forums and applied everything I could glean from same (see above!).

I'm asuming it's a network/bandwidth problem but I'm loath to wire up the Squeezebox, as the whole point in buying was it's wireless connectivity.

Any help would be extremely appreciated as this is tarnishing my view of a product I so want to like (it's also cracking me up!).

Thanks in advance for any help...

2006-09-04, 12:12
A couple of things to try ...

First, even though its not where you want to end up, try wired ... this will confirm if its a network issue or something else.

Also, you mentioned mp3 ... do mp3 files generally play ok? How about a few WAVs?

If the mp3's play, and the wm4a's don't, is that because the m4a's are higher bit rate? [the WAVs should show this up].

I'd also try some other channels - there are other things besides wireless LANs that can interfere, and netstumbler won't find those...

Oh, yes, and... does it work with Softsqueeze?


2006-09-04, 13:33
Hi Ceejay,

Firstly, thank you for your reply.

I'm listening to SoftSqueeze right now (as a Java applet in FireFox) and the tracks in question play perfectly.

No problems ever with mp3 playback (usually at 192kbps), the m4a's are all at 128kbps.

I'll rip a few tunes to WAV and try that.

I'll switch to channel 1 and give that a go...

This might seem like a stupid question but, what do I connect the Squeezebox to? - The router or the laptop (with a cros-over ethernet?).

I'm only getting to grips with Wi-Fi...

Again, Thanks...

2006-09-04, 14:32
Hwhat do I connect the Squeezebox to? - The router or the laptop (with a cros-over ethernet?).

I recommend connecting your SB to the router, assuming it has a spare wired port.

Just one thing springs to mind now: am I right in thinking that your original setup has both the laptop and the SB on the wireless LAN to the router? If so, that might partly explain the problems - you are putting a lot of traffic on your WLAN, and if its suffering at all from interference then you will have this sort of problem.

So another experiment would be to wire the laptop to the router, and have the SB wireless.

One more possible thing to look at: I'm curious about why higher rate MP3s are playing fine, while lower rate AACs are not. I'm wondering whether this is because the SB can't play AACs natively: they must be transcoded by the server to something else, like MP3 or FLAC. Have a look at server settings/filetypes, perhaps your AACs are being transcoded to something high rate like FLAC or WAV?


2006-09-05, 10:32
Hi Ceejay,

I think it's sorted!

Under Server Settings/File Types there were 3 options for Apple AAC with the Stream Format as AIFF, FLAC and MP3 respectively.

By deselecting the first two (AIFF & FLAC) and leaving only MP3 selected seems to have cured the problem.

Obviously, converting from M4A to MP3 on-the-fly is not gonna be as 'hi-fi' as, say, FLAC but my stereo is not that revealing.

When I upgrade to a kick-ass stereo I reckon I'll have to get wired (but then I'll also have to re-rip my music to a lossless format).

You were right about everything being wireless (laptop and Squeezebox) but the WLAN seems to be capable of dealing with streaming MP3 to/from laptop & Squeezebox.

Many, many thanks...

2006-11-13, 13:24
Thanks, this hint about the type of AAC cross-coding seems to be the issue for me too, except that I can't select the MP3 option. From the error it looks like lame was not properly installed. Maybe. Anyway, I hadn't realized that MP3's were working and AAC files were not (almost everything I have is AAC). Hopefully this will put me closer to fixing it.

2006-11-13, 13:49
The MP3 option requires the "lame" application to be installed. Lame is not installed as part of slimserver - you have to download your own copy (version 3.96.1 is good) for your OS and install it.

2006-11-13, 14:26
Thanks. I know I should perhaps have noticed this, but that would be a useful thing to be included in messages / warnings.

2006-11-13, 14:56
Thank you for the help on this, this seems to have fixed it. I'm using a mac generally, and not used to having to futz with this stuff. (PC is driving the squeezebox).

Of course, the wireless was working great a week ago, but now not working as well. Changing channels didn't help.

Much appreciated.