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SamS
2007-04-29, 06:55
Hi all,

I realize my thread title is a bit vague, but let me describe what is going on:

I use an Infrant ReadyNAS to run Slimserver, v 6.5.1. No real issues to report except recently.

I've been using "Random Mix" quite a bit lately, and noticed that every few songs, my SB3 will mute its output (AV receiver loses digital lock) at the beginning of some songs, and either start them over or pick up slightly after the drop out.

My SB3 is hard wired to my network switch, and there's not much network traffic going on. I've never noticed this before just accessing songs/albums/artists directly, only with Random Mix. Could it be my ReadyNas need more than its 256MB of RAM for buffer memory?

Any suggetions are appreciated!

SamS
2007-04-29, 08:18
A bit of an update. I activated the "Show Buffer Fullness" feature and watched it as a new song started from the random mix playlist. Everything starts fine, but you know how it takes a few seconds for the title/display information to reset after a new song starts playing? Well, it appears the buffer starts to fall during this point as the new text is loaded. I imagine that it sometimes drops all the way to zero, causing my sound cut outs.

Is this normal?

mik63
2007-04-29, 09:19
since 3-4 weeks I have a similar behavior.
songs stop and restart from the start without a reason.
If it would just tumble and continue it could be a wireless link issue, but the restart from zero is strange.
I have experienced this with both 6.5.1 and 6.5.2; I have also tried to swap my 2 Squeezebox devices to verify it was not a hw problem.
I have tried removing and reinstalling the software 2-3 times to see if there would be a difference.
I am on WindowsXP Professional as a server with RAID10 disks and plenty of RAM.

mik63
2007-04-29, 10:02
In addition to the "restart" problem, sometimes the music "skips" just like on old LPs. There is an instantaneous interruption and jump forward in the music stream.
I have tested the files with other players and the music file and stream is intact, so it seems to be an issue with the server (as I have tried this with 2 different squeeze players and it is the same).
As the player fill up its buffer, it seems like the server fills it up wrong ahead of time. It could be a "gap" in the wireless transmission, but I would assume the client and server would retransmit the packets to fill up the client buffer the right way.
Anybody with similar issue?
And yes, I have sent this to the support guys (no reply yet).

mik63
2007-04-29, 10:03
All my mucis is saved in uncompressed WAV and I transmit uncompressed to the player and let it do the conversion.

Mark Lanctot
2007-04-29, 10:43
It is almost certainly a wireless bandwidth problem in mik63's case. Go to Help - Server & Network Health and try a few Network Tests, then Enable Performance Monitoring, play a few tracks and post Player Statistics here.

The solution is to increase compression. Try FLAC first, go to Server Settings - File Types, enable WAV -> FLAC and disable WAV -> WAV (built in). Or you have to increase wireless bandwidth/signal strength, see http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?NetworkProblemsSecondGuide Your server should be wired to your router/AP, if you're experiencing wireless dropouts/bandwidth problems that's the first thing you should address. Avoid 2 wireless hops if you can.

Unfortunately SamS' problem is different. It could be a server issue. The Performance Monitoring - Server Statistics would be of help here.

SamS
2007-04-29, 12:32
Unfortunately SamS' problem is different. It could be a server issue. The Performance Monitoring - Server Statistics would be of help here.

Thanks for the input. I see the Slimserver screen for "Home / Server Settings / Performance". Where do I go from here?

Mark Lanctot
2007-04-29, 12:42
Thanks for the input. I see the Slimserver screen for "Home / Server Settings / Performance". Where do I go from here?

As I described to mik63:


Go to Help - Server & Network Health, then Enable Performance Monitoring, play a few tracks and post Player Statistics here.

In your case you'd post Server Statistics.

SamS
2007-04-29, 13:24
Hi Mark,

Under Help, I only have:

* Frequently Asked Questions
* Getting Started
* Internet Radio
* Remote Control Reference
* Player Setup
* Remote Streaming
* Technical Information
* Using the Slim Devices Remote

mik63
2007-04-29, 13:41
Here are the results:
=======================================
Performance Summary : Office

Please queue up several tracks to play on this player and start them playing. Then press the Reset link below to clear the statistics and update this display.

Reset
Summary

Control Connection : OK
Streaming Connection : OK
Signal Strength : OK
Buffer Fullness : OK
Server Response Time : OK

Warnings

This player is performing normally.
======================================

Also, let me confirm that the server is connected directly to the router/switch.
In addition let me tell you that the wireless router and the Sqeezebox are in the same room with no more than 6-7 yards between the wireless antenna and the Sqeezebox.
The wireless signal is always in the 80% plus...

I have moved to WAV->Flac and I will report if this makes a difference.

Mark Lanctot
2007-04-29, 13:51
Hi Mark,

Under Help, I only have:

* Frequently Asked Questions
* Getting Started
* Internet Radio
* Remote Control Reference
* Player Setup
* Remote Streaming
* Technical Information
* Using the Slim Devices Remote

Looks like you're running an older SlimServer version that doesn't support this.

Mark Lanctot
2007-04-29, 13:54
Here are the results:
=======================================
Performance Summary : Office

Please queue up several tracks to play on this player and start them playing. Then press the Reset link below to clear the statistics and update this display.

Reset
Summary

Control Connection : OK
Streaming Connection : OK
Signal Strength : OK
Buffer Fullness : OK
Server Response Time : OK

Warnings

This player is performing normally.
======================================

And what does Player Statistics show? Did you experience any stuttering while you were playing these tracks?

SamS
2007-04-29, 13:57
Looks like you're running an older SlimServer version that doesn't support this.


I'm running 6.5.1, should I go to 6.5.2?

mik63
2007-04-29, 14:02
The server is currently collecting performance statistics for this player.

You may set warning thresholds for each measurement. This will record in the server log whenever the threshold is exceeded. The most recent log entries can be viewed here.
Signal Strength
This graph shows the strength of the wireless signal received by your player. Higher signal strength is better. The player reports signal strength while it is playing.

< 10 : 0 : 0%
< 20 : 0 : 0%
< 30 : 0 : 0%
< 40 : 0 : 0%
< 50 : 0 : 0%
< 60 : 0 : 0%
< 70 : 1 : 0%
< 80 : 376 :100% #################################################
< 90 : 0 : 0%
< 100 : 0 : 0%
>=100 : 0 : 0%
max : 76.000000
min : 68.000000
avg : 71.427056

Warning Thresholds : Low High
Buffer Fullness
This graph shows the fill of the player's buffer. Higher buffer fullness is better. Note the buffer is only filled while the player is playing tracks.

Squeezebox1 uses a small buffer and it is expected to stay full while playing. If this value drops to 0 it will result in audio dropouts. This is likely to be due to network problems.

Squeezebox2/3 uses a large buffer. This drains to 0 at the end of each track and then refills for the next track. You should only be concerned if the buffer fill is not high for the majority of the time a track is playing.

Playing remote streams can lead to low buffer fill as the player needs to wait for data from the remote server. This is not a cause for concern.

< 10 : 0 : 0%
< 20 : 0 : 0%
< 30 : 0 : 0%
< 40 : 0 : 0%
< 50 : 0 : 0%
< 60 : 0 : 0%
< 70 : 0 : 0%
< 80 : 0 : 0%
< 90 : 0 : 0%
< 100 : 377 :100% ##################################################
>=100 : 0 : 0%
max : 99.999936
min : 98.046907
avg : 99.922022

Warning Thresholds : Low High
Control Connection
This graph shows the number of messages queued up to send to the player over the control connection. A measurement is taken every time a new message is sent to the player. Values above 1-2 indicate potential network congestion or that the player has become disconnected.

< 1 : 0 : 0%
< 2 : 0 : 0%
< 5 : 0 : 0%
< 10 : 0 : 0%
< 20 : 0 : 0%
>=20 : 0 : 0%
max : 0.000000
min : 0.000000
avg : 0.000000

Mark Lanctot
2007-04-29, 14:08
I'm running 6.5.1, should I go to 6.5.2?

Go to Server Settings - Plugins and enable "Network Test". If the box above reads "Load plugins on-the-fly", or if you change it to this, simply go back to the home page and the option should reappear.

If you keep it as "Load plugins at startup only" you'll have to restart SlimServer.

Mark Lanctot
2007-04-29, 14:08
The server is currently collecting performance statistics for this player.

You may set warning thresholds for each measurement. This will record in the server log whenever the threshold is exceeded. The most recent log entries can be viewed here.
Signal Strength
This graph shows the strength of the wireless signal received by your player. Higher signal strength is better. The player reports signal strength while it is playing.

< 10 : 0 : 0%
< 20 : 0 : 0%
< 30 : 0 : 0%
< 40 : 0 : 0%
< 50 : 0 : 0%
< 60 : 0 : 0%
< 70 : 1 : 0%
< 80 : 376 :100% #################################################
< 90 : 0 : 0%
< 100 : 0 : 0%
>=100 : 0 : 0%
max : 76.000000
min : 68.000000
avg : 71.427056

Warning Thresholds : Low High
Buffer Fullness
This graph shows the fill of the player's buffer. Higher buffer fullness is better. Note the buffer is only filled while the player is playing tracks.

Squeezebox1 uses a small buffer and it is expected to stay full while playing. If this value drops to 0 it will result in audio dropouts. This is likely to be due to network problems.

Squeezebox2/3 uses a large buffer. This drains to 0 at the end of each track and then refills for the next track. You should only be concerned if the buffer fill is not high for the majority of the time a track is playing.

Playing remote streams can lead to low buffer fill as the player needs to wait for data from the remote server. This is not a cause for concern.

< 10 : 0 : 0%
< 20 : 0 : 0%
< 30 : 0 : 0%
< 40 : 0 : 0%
< 50 : 0 : 0%
< 60 : 0 : 0%
< 70 : 0 : 0%
< 80 : 0 : 0%
< 90 : 0 : 0%
< 100 : 377 :100% ##################################################
>=100 : 0 : 0%
max : 99.999936
min : 98.046907
avg : 99.922022

Warning Thresholds : Low High
Control Connection
This graph shows the number of messages queued up to send to the player over the control connection. A measurement is taken every time a new message is sent to the player. Values above 1-2 indicate potential network congestion or that the player has become disconnected.

< 1 : 0 : 0%
< 2 : 0 : 0%
< 5 : 0 : 0%
< 10 : 0 : 0%
< 20 : 0 : 0%
>=20 : 0 : 0%
max : 0.000000
min : 0.000000
avg : 0.000000

Was the player stuttering while this was being generated?

mik63
2007-04-29, 14:25
I have discovered that the player was not directly connected to my wireless server but to a WDS repeater and then to the server from there. I use 2 WDS repeaters (wireless to ETH converters) in other parts of the house. The WDS have the same SSID of the main wireless switch to allow transparent roaming between access points.
Unfortunately this also makes is very difficult to figure out which access point you connect to...
Just in case somebody else is using WDS repeaters....
Now the signal is in the 90% +..; I will keep testing and verify.

Mik

mik63
2007-04-29, 14:29
the problem wss not "stuttering" but "skipping" this is why I find it strange...
I can understand the stuttering, but how can it "skip" a big chunk of the audio stream and flawlessly start 1/2 a sec. later form a position in the audio stream that can be 20sec. or 1min later?

Mark Lanctot
2007-04-29, 15:24
I have discovered that the player was not directly connected to my wireless server but to a WDS repeater and then to the server from there. I use 2 WDS repeaters (wireless to ETH converters) in other parts of the house. The WDS have the same SSID of the main wireless switch to allow transparent roaming between access points.
Unfortunately this also makes is very difficult to figure out which access point you connect to...
Just in case somebody else is using WDS repeaters....
Now the signal is in the 90% +..; I will keep testing and verify.

Mik

This was probably it. Signal strength was OK but bandwidth may have been tiny due to all the wireless hops.

SamS
2007-04-29, 15:29
Go to Server Settings - Plugins and enable "Network Test". If the box above reads "Load plugins on-the-fly", or if you change it to this, simply go back to the home page and the option should reappear.

If you keep it as "Load plugins at startup only" you'll have to restart SlimServer.

Thanks Mark, that did it!

Here's what was found, running the test at 4000kbps:


< 10 : 0 : 0%
< 20 : 0 : 0%
< 30 : 0 : 0%
< 40 : 0 : 0%
< 50 : 0 : 0%
< 60 : 0 : 0%
< 70 : 0 : 0%
< 75 : 0 : 0%
< 80 : 0 : 0%
< 85 : 0 : 0%
< 90 : 0 : 0%
< 95 : 0 : 0%
< 100 : 0 : 0%
>=100 : 1 :100% ##################################################
max : 100.000000
min : 100.000000
avg : 100.000000


Normally, I have great performance. It is only when the next track from a Random Mix playlist tries to load it's text data does the buffer ever fall below 100%. If it only dips to 20% or so, I'm fine, if closer to 0% buffer, then of course I lose sound for a bit :-(

Mark Lanctot
2007-04-29, 15:41
Thanks Mark, that did it!

I wish it did, it hasn't solved your problem. ;-)


Normally, I have great performance. It is only when the next track from a Random Mix playlist tries to load it's text data does the buffer ever fall below 100%. If it only dips to 20% or so, I'm fine, if closer to 0% buffer, then of course I lose sound for a bit :-(

On wireless it wouldn't be the text, it would be the track loading that's doing this.

You can enable your buffer on your player display as you play a song. Notice how the pattern is: when the track starts the buffer fills up to 100% and stays there. At a certain point as the song nears its end the buffer will gradually empty until it reaches 0% at the end, then it will re-load the next song.

If you're playing MP3s, the buffer may never get to 100% as the entire song may be smaller than the buffer capacity! Or it may fill up and empty right away.

Unfortunately this is all fine and good, but you're on wired. You should never experience bandwidth issues which cause the buffer to underrun. Even a 10 MB network has at least 10X the bandwidth required by a FLAC file.

Is your cable OK? You say your network is OK, are you sure? I'd check it with a packet sniffer like Wireshark but that's pretty complex.

I'm hoping someone besides me comes in with suggestions here.

One last thing to think of: on Random Mix, when a new track starts, an old one is removed and another random track is added to the playlist. This requires a bit of CPU horsepower (or memory?) and your NAS might be running out. I think I've read this here on the forums. To minimize this, go to Random Mix and at the bottom of the page where it says "Now Playing will show [X] upcoming songs and [Y] recently played songs", change X and Y to low numbers.

SamS
2007-05-03, 18:55
One last thing to think of: on Random Mix, when a new track starts, an old one is removed and another random track is added to the playlist. This requires a bit of CPU horsepower (or memory?) and your NAS might be running out. I think I've read this here on the forums. To minimize this, go to Random Mix and at the bottom of the page where it says "Now Playing will show [X] upcoming songs and [Y] recently played songs", change X and Y to low numbers.

Hi Mark,

I did your suggestion above, and haven't had the problem since. I changed the numbers to "5" upcoming and "5" recently played (and hit save), however, on the right hand side, Slimserver is still showing a lot more than that. Strange. But, no dropouts!

SamS
2007-05-04, 18:08
I've been able to do some further diagonsis.

When skipping forward during Random Mix, the ReadyNAS has to add a song to the upcoming playlist. This is where the dropouts are occuring, as Mark speculated. Changing the number of upcoming songs really won't matter, as it has to fill up the buffer when it pulls another song for the playlist.

What would be a good solution to this?

Mark Lanctot
2007-05-08, 13:46
I've been able to do some further diagonsis.

When skipping forward during Random Mix, the ReadyNAS has to add a song to the upcoming playlist. This is where the dropouts are occuring, as Mark speculated. Changing the number of upcoming songs really won't matter, as it has to fill up the buffer when it pulls another song for the playlist.

Filling up the buffer isn't causing problems for you - see your Player Statistics - you didn't even get one sample less than 10% buffer. This means you have adequate bandwidth to fill the buffer without dropouts.

It seems to be the act of choosing another track at random that's taxing the CPU and causing problems. Unfortunately you're right, I gave bad advice - once the initial playlist is loaded, only one track will be added at a time. If the CPU can't handle that, it doesn't matter how many tracks ahead you add. The numbers I suggested to change only show the upcoming tracks and the previous tracks in the playlist.

Unfortunately there's not too much you can do. Based on what I read about NASes, they just don't seem to have the horsepower to reliably run SlimServer 6.5.0+.

You can ease the CPU load by closing the web interface when it's not in use, but there's not much more you can do.

SamS
2007-05-09, 17:04
Filling up the buffer isn't causing problems for you - see your Player Statistics - you didn't even get one sample less than 10% buffer. This means you have adequate bandwidth to fill the buffer without dropouts.

It seems to be the act of choosing another track at random that's taxing the CPU and causing problems. Unfortunately you're right, I gave bad advice - once the initial playlist is loaded, only one track will be added at a time. If the CPU can't handle that, it doesn't matter how many tracks ahead you add. The numbers I suggested to change only show the upcoming tracks and the previous tracks in the playlist.

Unfortunately there's not too much you can do. Based on what I read about NASes, they just don't seem to have the horsepower to reliably run SlimServer 6.5.0+.

You can ease the CPU load by closing the web interface when it's not in use, but there's not much more you can do.

I appreciate your attempts to help. It looks we've adequately diagnosed the problem, but not a solution. I wonder if more RAM would be of benefit? I only have the stock 256K.

Mark Lanctot
2007-05-09, 17:26
I wonder if more RAM would be of benefit? I only have the stock 256K.

256K would be a big problem (misplaced units there I suspect). ;-) I guess more RAM couldn't hurt, but seeing as I see reports of poor performance on NAS devices on this forum all the time, I wouldn't want to see you waste money on something that might not ever work out at this point.

I guess I should ask, what are your needs? Why did you go with a NAS? Simplicity? Noise? Power consumption? If you had the skills and desire to do so, building a server out of conventional computer hardware is so much more flexible. If noise and power consumption are issues, there are low-power, quiet (even fanless) mini-ITX boards available. And when it comes to simplicity, you can't get much simpler than SlimCD: http://www.herger.net/slim/detail.php?nr=763

SamS
2007-05-09, 19:49
Interesting, I've never heard of SlimCD.

Yup, 256MB is what I run in the ReadyNAS. Why the ReadyNAS? Well, I like the idea of a self-contained unit running the music. I've already made use of the RAID capabilities that it provides, so a simple 1 or 2 drive PC or server would not meet my needs.

I have a Vista PC and an XP machine. I understand Vista doesn't run Slimserver very well, and I don't really feel like putting Slimserver on the XP box. Too much stuff on there already. Noise and power are not big concerns.

Besides the cut out problem I reported on Random Mix, the ReadyNAS actually runs Slimserver quite well. Yeah, it's a bit slow sometimes to respond to remote commands, but it acts like it should, very predictable.

SamS
2007-05-13, 14:03
Just to update/conclude my original post and thread, I moved Slimserver over to a Vista box this weekend, and things work pretty well. I'm amazed at the speed difference of running on the NAS vs. a PC. Remote commands are instantaneous and the SB never "hangs" in response to the remote. Best of all, I get to use Plugins! So far, no regrets. Thanks for all who responded in trying to diagnose my cut out problem. No cut outs of any kinds since moving Slimserver to a PC.

Mark Lanctot
2007-05-13, 14:18
...and on Vista, yet!

SamS
2007-05-13, 15:03
...and on Vista, yet!

Indeed! It wasn't too difficult. I had a few hiccups, but pretty much I followed the wiki instructions for Vista install.

Should I still be running 6.5.1? I don't see an easy way to go to 6.5.2. Should an update happen automatically for a nightly build update?

Mark Lanctot
2007-05-13, 15:54
Should I still be running 6.5.1? I don't see an easy way to go to 6.5.2. Should an update happen automatically for a nightly build update?

Nightly updates have to be installed manually as they are not officially-released software. If you want to install, go to:

http://www.slimdevices.com/downloads/nightly/

and choose the "6 5 X" subdirectory corresponding to the nightly build you want, then download the Windows executable.

As to whether you SHOULD, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. 6.5.2 has a lot of bugfixes but unless something isn't working for you I don't see any reason to upgrade, particularly on Vista because a lot of adjustments were made to the way SlimServer will start up in Vista based on complaints from people where it wasn't starting. So if it is starting for you, best to keep it because it will change the way it starts - which may cause it no longer to start for you.

SamS
2007-05-13, 16:28
Ah, I didn't realize the nightly builds had to be installed manually, thanks for the link Mark.

You're right, I'm gonna run 6.5.1 for now, as I got it working well enough, and I don't wanna spend an afternoon getting it "back" to work as it does now ;)

mherger
2007-05-13, 22:16
> ...and on Vista, yet!

The installer has been optimized for Vista recently. If you plan on
installing SlimServer on Vista I'd recommend the latest 6.5.2 build. Might
render the wiki page unnecessary :-)

Michael