PDA

View Full Version : Is the hardware really as bad as the software?



Leeber
2006-10-29, 02:44
Hi guys, 1st post so be nice!

I have been planning to buy a few squeezeboxes to use around the house. We have a Media Center in the living room which has our entire music collection stored in WMA Lossless and a gaming rig in the study which also has most of our music stored in WMA 192kb/s.
So anyway, in preperation for my squeezebox shopping spree, I thought I would download and install slimserver on the study computer just so I could get a feel for how it works. It was at this point that I learned all about softsqueeze, so I installed it on the study computer, the media center in the living room and my laptop (on a wireless connection) in the bedroom. After a bit of messing around I found the sync options in the slimserver software and so set them all up to play in sync with each other. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to work very well for me. I rarely get to the end of the first song before it decides to start again from the beginning (I presume because of a loss of synchronisation). I'm now wondering whether buying the squeezeboxes is such a good idea.
So guys, do the hard versions of the squeezebox work any better than this? Do they cope well with playing in sync? Can they be configured to do so from the unit's themselves or do you have to keep accessing the slimserver software to enable/disable this feature?
I envisage having a mixed setup of squeezeboxes in some rooms and softsqueeze running in the two rooms where there is already a computer. So far though, my experiences with just the slimserver+3 softsqueeze installations has not filled me with confidence. Obviously, if I'm doing something wrong, feel free to jump in with any tips to get it all working correctly. Thanks, Lee

mherger
2006-10-29, 03:01
> Hi guys, 1st post so be nice!

Same applies to new posters: please use moderate subject titles. You're
complaining about synching softsqueeze and call it bad software in general?

> So guys, do the hard versions of the squeezebox work any better than
> this?

Yes.

> Do they cope well with playing in sync?

Yes.

> Can they be configured to
> do so from the unit's themselves or do you have to keep accessing the
> slimserver software to enable/disable this feature?

Yes: player interface -> settings

Synching softsqueeze doesn't work perfectly well. Hardware players do.

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.herger.net/SlimCD - your SlimServer on a CD
http://www.herger.net/slim - AlbumReview, Biography, MusicInfoSCR

kweller
2006-10-29, 06:09
In article <op.th6gspvpkpbrd7 (AT) lappi2 (DOT) jo-sac.ch>, Michael Herger wrote:
> Synching softsqueeze doesn't work perfectly well. Hardware players do.

I beg to differ. We have an SB2 in the study and an SB3 in the kitchen,
both connected wirelessly. They are not far apart so it is imperative
they stay in synch and they never do. For the last few months the SB3
has been turned off and the SB2 has been turned up so we can just hear
it in the kitchen as we can't stand listening to them both as the music
is always a few seconds apart.

The SB3 used to be connected via a Homeplug ethernet and synchronisation
was better then so I suspect the problem is the wireless (although on
the rare occasion when we've used other wireless devices in the kitchen
they've been fine). I did buy a replacement home plug when the other one
failed but have so far failed to persuade it to work.

I suspect, as when I've commented on this before, others will post
saying their players synch perfectly and others will post saying their's
don't. It seems pretty hit and miss.

Kevin

Richie
2006-10-29, 06:38
> The SB3 used to be connected via a Homeplug ethernet and synchronisation
> was better then so I suspect the problem is the wireless (although on
> the rare occasion when we've used other wireless devices in the kitchen
> they've been fine). I did buy a replacement home plug when the other one
> failed but have so far failed to persuade it to work.
>
> I suspect, as when I've commented on this before, others will post
> saying their players synch perfectly and others will post saying their's
> don't. It seems pretty hit and miss.
>
> Kevin

You're probably right about the wired/wireless differences.

I've had up to 3 working very well when synced. They are all wired
versions. I think it's the wireless syncing that suffers from a few
more problems.

The only downside with synced players is the small gap at each track
change when the players resync. It's not noticeable with most tracks
but some tracks don't have gaps between them.

So Lee, I think you'll be fine with wired Squeezeboxes but you may
have a little trouble with wireless depending on your signal strength
or outside interference.

Richard

lanierb
2006-10-29, 07:30
I have wireless SB3's around my house and they are essentially always perfectly in sync (out of sync moments happen but are rare). If people are having trouble with wireless sync I think it's probably due to a weak/overloaded wireless network, or something else wrong.

On softsqueeze: it's virtually impossible to achieve sync with softsqueeze because of software/hardware delays inherent to computer systems.

Lanier

Mitch Harding
2006-10-29, 07:40
In my setup I have an SBG wired, SB2 wired, and SB3 wireless (running on a
11b network, no less) and synch has been working fine for me. Haven't tried
adding Softsqueeze into the mix.

On 10/29/06, lanierb <lanierb.2gg1kb1162132501 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
wrote:
>
>
> I have wireless SB3's around my house and they are essentially always
> perfectly in sync (out of sync moments happen but are rare). If people
> are having trouble with wireless sync I think it's probably due to a
> weak/overloaded wireless network, or something else wrong.
>
> On softsqueeze: it's virtually impossible to achieve sync with
> softsqueeze because of software/hardware delays inherent to computer
> systems.
>
> Lanier
>
>
> --
> lanierb
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> lanierb's Profile: http://forums.slimdevices.com/member.php?userid=5566
> View this thread: http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=29158
>
>

mav
2006-10-30, 03:43
I have 2 SB3s, both wireless, running on a "g" network at home, with SS on a Qnap TS101 NAS. I tend to play both boxes at the same time synchronised, and they usually work fine, although occasionally they will get out of sync.

I did have a problem initially, but think that this was more to do with the network, as I changed the channel, and noticed a huge improvement in performance.

The only problem is when I try and use the Slimserver web front end at the same time as playing synchronised SBs. This will not work at all, so I just control things using the remote.

mav

PaulR
2006-10-30, 04:20
I have a single squeezebox in the living room and would consider buying one for the Kitchen (especially if a version were released with integrated speakers).

I use it a lot for Internet radio streams. I presume that since the squeezeboxes sync at the start of each song it wouldn't work great for internet radio since the two would eventually drift out of sync. Can anyone confirm this? - or do they do something clever in this case like resampling the data going to one of the squeezeboxes?

P Floding
2006-10-30, 04:21
Hi guys, 1st post so be nice!

I have been planning to buy a few squeezeboxes to use around the house. We have a Media Center in the living room which has our entire music collection stored in WMA Lossless and a gaming rig in the study which also has most of our music stored in WMA 192kb/s.
So anyway, in preperation for my squeezebox shopping spree, I thought I would download and install slimserver on the study computer just so I could get a feel for how it works. It was at this point that I learned all about softsqueeze, so I installed it on the study computer, the media center in the living room and my laptop (on a wireless connection) in the bedroom. After a bit of messing around I found the sync options in the slimserver software and so set them all up to play in sync with each other. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to work very well for me. I rarely get to the end of the first song before it decides to start again from the beginning (I presume because of a loss of synchronisation). I'm now wondering whether buying the squeezeboxes is such a good idea.
So guys, do the hard versions of the squeezebox work any better than this? Do they cope well with playing in sync? Can they be configured to do so from the unit's themselves or do you have to keep accessing the slimserver software to enable/disable this feature?
I envisage having a mixed setup of squeezeboxes in some rooms and softsqueeze running in the two rooms where there is already a computer. So far though, my experiences with just the slimserver+3 softsqueeze installations has not filled me with confidence. Obviously, if I'm doing something wrong, feel free to jump in with any tips to get it all working correctly. Thanks, Lee

I have had quite a few problems with softsqueeze, but being free I can't really complain. The hardware is way more stable. No comaprison.

byKnight
2006-10-30, 05:59
FWIW, I often synch my SB3, Softsqueeze on a notebook with a wireless connection and Softsqueeze on a desktop with a wired connection, usually for hours at a time. Only once did I encounter one of the two Softsqueezes drifting out of synch.

CatBus
2006-10-30, 09:45
In my experience, Softsqueeze is a bad performer all around. It does its job of simulating the functionality of the hardware, but the performance is dramatically worse. The hardware will not have these problems. I used it to see how the devices would navigate my collection, that's all.

And now a question--for those who both do and do not have sync problems, what format/bitrates/network medium do you typically use? I'm wondering if lower network traffic, and/or codecs that are decoded on the Squeezebox improve things just as much as using wired over wireless?

The original question was posed about WMA--and the bitrate of WMA is irrelevant because it's first decoded at the server and is sent to the players as raw PCM, using the highest possible bandwidth! After server-trancoded codecs, FLAC is the second largest bandwidth hog depending a bit on compression, and the lightest codecs are MP3 and Ogg, depending on bitrate.

So, is it possible that sync problems are related to codec choice? I really don't know, but it seems to make some sense to me. Are people who don't have sync problems over wireless using MP3 and Ogg? Are people who do using WMA and MPC? Where does FLAC fit in? Inquiring minds want to know...

Ben Sandee
2006-10-30, 10:12
On 10/30/06, CatBus <CatBus.2gi2hb1162227001 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
wrote:
>
>
> The original question was posed about WMA--and the bitrate of WMA is
> irrelevant because it's first decoded at the server and is sent to the
> players as raw PCM, using the highest possible bandwidth! After
> server-trancoded codecs, FLAC is the second largest bandwidth hog
> depending a bit on compression, and the lightest codecs are MP3 and
> Ogg, depending on bitrate.


Simply not true for both SB2 and SB3. WMA is decoded on the player by
default.

Ben

azinck3
2006-10-30, 10:17
On 10/30/06, CatBus <CatBus.2gi2hb1162227001 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
wrote:
>
>
> The original question was posed about WMA--and the bitrate of WMA is
> irrelevant because it's first decoded at the server and is sent to the
> players as raw PCM, using the highest possible bandwidth! After
> server-trancoded codecs, FLAC is the second largest bandwidth hog
> depending a bit on compression, and the lightest codecs are MP3 and
> Ogg, depending on bitrate.


Simply not true for both SB2 and SB3. WMA is decoded on the player by
default.

Ben

Not only that, even if it were transcoded, transcoded formats are sent by default as FLAC, not PCM.

CatBus
2006-10-30, 11:09
Well jeeze, nevermind ;) I guess I don't understand how these things work so well after all.

Ben Sandee
2006-10-30, 11:29
On 10/30/06, CatBus <CatBus.2gi66n1162231801 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
wrote:
>
>
> Well jeeze, nevermind ;) I guess I don't understand how these things
> work so well after all.


Well, the core of your post is still valid however I think. If you have
FLAC-encoded files or files that are transcoded to FLAC then you will
quickly run out of wireless bandwidth when trying to sync. Also, if you
have a mix of devices (like an old SB1/g) then the lowest-common denominator
of WAV will be used for all devices and those limits are reached even
faster.

I think sync is best accomplished with a wired network with heterogeneous
devices and native device formats. Even then YMMV!

Ben

CatBus
2006-10-30, 13:56
Also, if you
have a mix of devices (like an old SB1/g) then the lowest-common denominator
of WAV will be used for all devices and those limits are reached even
faster.

Not to mention, doesn't having ONE 802.11b device on your WLAN typically drop everyone's speed to B-speeds, even G devices?

Ben Sandee
2006-10-30, 15:29
On 10/30/06, CatBus <CatBus.2gie1z1162242001 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
wrote:
>
>
> Not to mention, doesn't having ONE 802.11b device on your WLAN
> typically drop everyone's speed to B-speeds, even G devices?


I think the actual amount of degradation depends on the devices in question,
but yes there is a hit in that case too. Lots of situations where sync is
simply not feasible or very difficult.

Ben

FLMike
2006-10-30, 20:30
Catbus,
I had a party the other night and used SQ synched with SB3 for an extended period for the first time--about 5 hours non-stop. I was really pleased with the results, because it stayed in synch for the entire evening.

Subsequent use has proved equally trouble free, and the two systems are within earshot, so out of synch behavior would have been obvious. If it is helpful info, I did not do any music control from the SB3 via remote...only from the server.

I'm running a mix of WMA Lossy and WMA Lossless (mostly lossless played that night). I have the Windows Media (built in) and Windows Media FLAC options checked and Windows media MP3 and WAV unchecked, so my understanding is that WMA Lossless is sent as FLAC and that other WMA formats are sent native and decoded at the box. Given that mix, some files were transcoded in software and sent to the SB3 as FLAC while others were sent native to the SB3 and decoded in hardware.

Connection is via wireless G connection via a Linksys router with a clear line of sight, window to window, between the router and SB3. There was no other wireless traffic running. I'm running server 6.3.1, SoftSq. 2.8 and XP SP2.

Mike

CatBus
2006-10-30, 20:45
Thanks for the info. At least extrapolating from this one data point (always dangerous!), it looks like clear "G" reception is all that's needed to stay in sync while streaming FLAC (and thus, I'd assume, streaming anything).

I'd be interested in knowing how things would work in a mixed B/G environment too. That may be where we sometimes run into trouble.

Also--I believe the devices re-sync at every track transition, so the only way they can drift a long way apart is on very long songs. So maybe try it out with a long classical track, or Alice's Restaurant, or something like that.

This is unscientific. I'm not seriously collating data and doing regression analysis, I'm just curious.

Mitch Harding
2006-10-31, 00:08
In my case I have a SB1 wired, SB2 wired, and SB3 wireless. However, my
wireless network is B. The majority of my library is FLAC, but I have some
mp3s from emusic as well. I've had no problems staying in synch on the
three players, playing a mix of FLAC and mp3.

On 10/30/06, CatBus <CatBus.2gix1b1162266601 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
wrote:
>
>
> Thanks for the info. At least extrapolating from this one data point
> (always dangerous!), it looks like clear "G" reception is all that's
> needed to stay in sync while streaming FLAC (and thus, I'd assume,
> streaming anything).
>
> I'd be interested in knowing how things would work in a mixed B/G
> environment too. That may be where we sometimes run into trouble.
>
> Also--I believe the devices re-sync at every track transition, so the
> only way they can drift a long way apart is on very long songs. So
> maybe try it out with a long classical track, or Alice's Restaurant, or
> something like that.
>
> This is unscientific. I'm not seriously collating data and doing
> regression analysis, I'm just curious.
>
>
> --
> CatBus
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> CatBus's Profile: http://forums.slimdevices.com/member.php?userid=7461
> View this thread: http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=29158
>
>

Leeber
2006-11-01, 14:07
Well guys, thanks so much for all your responses. I think I'll buy one wireless SB3 and see how it goes from there. I understand that you can also get this feature when using the Roku Soundbridge with Slimserver, anyone had any experience of this? Only reason I'm asking is that the Roku units seem to be a lot cheaper than the squeezebox 3.

funkstar
2006-11-01, 15:57
you could do a search on Roku here, there have been many threads.

Basically, this setup is not supported by Slimdevices at all (npt surprisingly). I think the Soundbridge appears like a SliMP3 (see here for details on it: http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?HardwareComparison) so it only plays MP3s. I think it is limited to 802.11b with WEP (ie. pathetic) security. It also resamples everything you play to 48Khz instead of playing at the normal 44.1Khz so there is a reduction in sound quality there.

bpa
2006-11-01, 16:06
Roku emulates an SB1 - not an SliMP3. However its internal buffering is different (smaller ?) to Slimdevices so synchronisation doesn't work well except possibly with other Roku's.

When in SB1 emulation I think the Roku only supports MP3 and WAV even though in other server mode Roku can handle WMA.

funkstar
2006-11-01, 16:14
i stand corrected. not payed that much attention to the Roku devices :)

peterbell
2006-11-03, 04:42
I use it a lot for Internet radio streams. I presume that since the squeezeboxes sync at the start of each song it wouldn't work great for internet radio since the two would eventually drift out of sync. Can anyone confirm this? - or do they do something clever in this case like resampling the data going to one of the squeezeboxes?
I note that the 'progress bar' in the web interface whilst playing a radio stream (in the case that I've just tested) seems to reset to zero every approximately every 220 secs. I wonder whether the players would re-sync every 220 secs?

lanierb
2006-11-03, 09:33
Well, the core of your post is still valid however I think. If you have
FLAC-encoded files or files that are transcoded to FLAC then you will
quickly run out of wireless bandwidth when trying to sync. Also, if you
have a mix of devices (like an old SB1/g) then the lowest-common denominator
of WAV will be used for all devices and those limits are reached even
faster.
Ben

I don't agree with this. 802.11g is 54M/s, whereas FLAC averages like 800k. It would take a lot of SB3's to even make a small dent in bandwidth in a g system. You should easily be able to run 20 at a time, if not more (and if you're running that many you probably want to consider a wired network anyway, even on cost grounds). A top notch linksys "g" router is what, like $30? No problem here. And as for years old hardware (SB1), sure, if you had a 56k modem it wouldn't work too well either, but that hardly seems relevant.

Lanier

azinck3
2006-11-03, 10:21
I don't agree with this. 802.11g is 54M/s, whereas FLAC averages like 800k. It would take a lot of SB3's to even make a small dent in bandwidth in a g system. You should easily be able to run 20 at a time, if not more (and if you're running that many you probably want to consider a wired network anyway, even on cost grounds). A top notch linksys "g" router is what, like $30? No problem here. And as for years old hardware (SB1), sure, if you had a 56k modem it wouldn't work too well either, but that hardly seems relevant.

Lanier

I'm with you in theory...but wireless performance typically falls FAR short of the specs. A few walls, a little distance, some interference (microwaves, phones, other WAPs) and soon you're piddling along at greatly reduced rates. Just search around this forum for proof that people sometimes have trouble streaming higher-bandwidth stuff over wireless. Fact is: wireless is flaky. Thankfully the SB's large buffer does a good job of handling this in most cases.

CatBus
2006-11-03, 10:53
I don't agree with this. 802.11g is 54M/s, whereas FLAC averages like 800k. It would take a lot of SB3's to even make a small dent in bandwidth in a g system. You should easily be able to run 20 at a time, if not more (and if you're running that many you probably want to consider a wired network anyway, even on cost grounds). A top notch linksys "g" router is what, like $30? No problem here. And as for years old hardware (SB1), sure, if you had a 56k modem it wouldn't work too well either, but that hardly seems relevant.

Lanier

At least according to this report (http://www.proxim.com/learn/library/whitepapers/maximizing_80211g_investment.pdf) best-case scenario 802.11g speeds are 27Mbps. If the router is configured for both 802.11b AND 802.11g, as many are, then the best-case scenario is further reduced to 18Mbps (even if no 802.11b clients are present!). Throw in a few walls, cordless phones and neighboring access points fighting for bandwidth, and that reduces it an unknown but not insignificant amount. The remaining bandwidth is shared among all devices in the house. So let's say a laptop, a Squeezebox, a Tivo, and maybe a freeloading neighbor or two.

I'd say it's within the realm of possibility. I don't doubt that the average bandwidth would still be good enough for FLAC, but I think there would be enough variability for significant dropoffs. Many of the above issues can be remedied with a proper wireless setup, but I'm not sure it's safe to assume this for everyone.

SuperQ
2006-11-03, 12:20
I'm with you in theory...but wireless performance typically falls FAR short of the specs. A few walls, a little distance, some interference (microwaves, phones, other WAPs) and soon you're piddling along at greatly reduced rates. Just search around this forum for proof that people sometimes have trouble streaming higher-bandwidth stuff over wireless. Fact is: wireless is flaky. Thankfully the SB's large buffer does a good job of handling this in most cases.

In my testing of 11g setups, I have been able to easily get around 20mbit of real bandwidth from an AP within 50 feet. You should be able to run atleast 5-10 SB3 with FLAC encoding.

azinck3
2006-11-03, 12:36
In my testing of 11g setups, I have been able to easily get around 20mbit of real bandwidth from an AP within 50 feet. You should be able to run atleast 5-10 SB3 with FLAC encoding.

Not saying it can't be done...just saying that there are lots of reasons why it sometimes doesn't work. And many people don't have the patience or know-how of us tech-heads to get it working properly. Through personal experience and reading this forum for the past few years I'm well aware of the many poor router implementations, driver idiosyncracies, bizarre interactions between devices, and other difficult-to-resolve things that can happen.

By and large I've had good experiences with wireless. And I'm fairly knowledgeable about how to troubleshoot and get a good setup. But I've had a few cases where, contrary to everything I would expect, you just get crappy throughput.

SuperQ
2006-11-03, 13:24
By and large I've had good experiences with wireless. And I'm fairly knowledgeable about how to troubleshoot and get a good setup. But I've had a few cases where, contrary to everything I would expect, you just get crappy throughput.

Yea, very true.. I just debuged a wireless connection for a coffee shop last week.. turns out the previous owner of the place (or whoever the owner hired to do the setup) didn't wire the cat5 cables correctly. The pairs were crimped out of order in the RJ45 connectors. These "split pairs" caused lots of packet loss between the DSL router and the AP. No problems with the AP, but lots of wired networking problems.