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what_to_buy
2008-09-20, 12:56
I would really appreciate some guidance from any networking experts out there! My problem is that I can use my new squeezebox duet for awhile, but inevitably, within a few minutes or within an hour, I experience connection problems: either my controller cannot locate my network OR my entire wireless network (including laptop wireless connection) becomes slow or disconnected. Since I set it up several days ago, I have only had about 2 hours worth of functioning time with it.

Here is what I have:

Router: DLink DIR-655 with latest firmware, 1.2
Server where music is located: HP MediaSmart
Wired connection to router: Desktop computer and HP MediaSmart
Wireless connection to router: 2 laptops, squeezebox receiver

My router uses WPA security and is set to choose the best channel available. I have tried setting the channel to 1 or 11, and I still experience these problems.

What is really frustrating is that:

1. I can listen to 2 albums worth of music or so, and then all of a sudden it starts stuttering for no apparent reason. My laptop connection then might or might not also drop (which NEVER happened pre-duet).

2. When I check nearby networks using Netstumbler, as recommended in the wiki, my channel looks available.

3. When I do the network test on my duet controller, it says 100% at one time and then drops to practically nothing a few hours later, for no apparent reason. For example, 10 min ago the network test indicated about 30% and the music stuttered. Right now, it indicated 100% and the music plays perfectly.

4. Even when the connection is having problems, when I check settings in SqueezeCenter, the wireless connection strength is still the same as when it was working (for example, 44).

Does someone have any ideas for what I can change about my network set-up? I bought some of the latest-and-greatest hardware (the router and server) just to set up the best possible system to use the duet. It seems like the duet should work well with this set up.

I will really, really appreciate any advice.

peter
2008-09-21, 07:03
what_to_buy wrote:
> Router: DLink DIR-655 with latest firmware, 1.2
>

This may be wide off the mark but I have the same router (use it as an
access point, though) and I
read forum posts warning against installing the 1.2 upgrade.

FWIW, mine works well with firmware 1.11EU.

Regards,
Peter

what_to_buy
2008-09-21, 10:01
what_to_buy wrote:
> Router: DLink DIR-655 with latest firmware, 1.2
>

This may be wide off the mark but I have the same router (use it as an
access point, though) and I
read forum posts warning against installing the 1.2 upgrade.

FWIW, mine works well with firmware 1.11EU.

Regards,
Peter

I appreciate you sharing that! Unfortunately, I believe I would still have a problem. I recently upgraded my firmware on the router hoping it would fix my problem, and the problem remained. I wonder, though, if the new firmware will cause other problems. I hadn't heard about that. If you or someone else knows more detail, let me know, in case I should change firmware versions for some other reason.

The update on my network connectivity is that I was able to use the duet flawlessly for several continuous hours yesterday.

Today, it is full of static and skips again. It is so frustrating! If anyone has other ideas of what to change about my network, I would be very grateful. Thanks!

UPDATE: Out of sheer desperation, I went ahead and changed my firmware back to 1.11, but I still have the same problems. Worth a try, though!

what_to_buy
2008-09-21, 11:03
Can anyone think of a way to narrow down the source of my problem?

A few minutes ago, the music was playing fine. I checked the wireless signal strenth in Settings > Status > Wireless Signal Strength was 36.

Now, it's stuttering, so I checked to see if the signal strength went down. Instead, it's 56.

This doesn't make sense to me.

I'll be grateful for any ideas. Thanks!

MeSue
2008-09-21, 16:18
Under Extras there is something called Network test that might help you.

Easiest way to determine if it is a wireless issue is to temporarily connect via Ethernet cable and then test for the problems.

Sometimes moving the router just a small amount can make a big difference in signal strength for some areas that have problems.

Are the cordless phones in your house the 2.4GHz kind? These can interfere with wireless networks. Some microwaves can, too.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Lots of other suggestions here: http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/NetworkProblemsBeginnersGuide and http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/NetworkProblemsSecondGuide

what_to_buy
2008-09-21, 16:43
Thanks for the reply, Sue. What's weird is that the wireless strength and network tests change around without any seeming cause (not when I'm using a phone or the microwave, for example). The wireless strength rating always seems high (the lowest has been 30), so I don't think that router positioning is my problem.

My router is on a different floor of my house, so it's not easy for me to temporarily connect via ethernet.

I played music for hours yesterday with no problem. Today I've tried thoughout the day and just get stuttering.

Right now I'm playing an .mp3 with no stuttering (first of the day!), but my squeezecenter page won't open on my laptop. My network test does look really low, though. And, now it's stuttering again.

Given my pattern of problems, does anyone see a likely cause?

Should I try ethernet-over-power-line, or whatever that's called? Is that pretty widely available?

Thanks!

Archer_11
2008-09-21, 18:11
I've got a similar problem - one hour it's fine, the next one it's not. When it stops, sometimes 'prompting' the player with the controller works, other times 'promting' from the squeezecenter browser does the trick. Have not tried all possible documented troubleshooting steps so will hold off on detail but you're certainly not on your own here.

The shame is our wireless laptop is always 100% fine, even upstairs where the signal is going through two walls and a floor. So if it's down to signal strength that's really odd.

what_to_buy
2008-09-21, 18:42
Sorry you're having trouble too!

I wish I knew how to narrow down the problem. If I knew a solution, I'd be willing to pay good money for it at this point.

A bit more information from my recent experimenting:

- If I turn OFF the wireless connection on my laptop, I can watch the network test on the duet controller go from weak to 100%. BUT, when I then try to play FLAC files, they still stutter. That's with a controller network test at 100%.

- When I turn my laptop wireless back on, the network test drifts back down (in the grey top area the grey pattern reaches about 30% up instead of all the way to the top).

Does that mean anything?

- I just checked my wireless strength reading in Squeezecenter, and it's at 21 - the lowest I've seen yet. Why the change? Why would it go from 60 to 20? Two minute later, I refresh, and it's climbing, now at 30?? Two minutes later it now says 58%. Now within 2 min it's back to 33. Does this make sense to anyone?

I'm in a house. Phone calls and microwaves don't account for these changes. The nearest houses are about 100 feet away on each side.

If people with some networking knowledge think I would be a good candidate for powerline ethernet, I'll buy them tomorrow (advice on brand or specs??). I've been reading posts about them for the last hour, and I don't have a good sense of whether it's likely to solve my problems.

I'll appreciate any input - thanks!

MeSue
2008-09-21, 18:53
My router is on a different floor of my house, so it's not easy for me to temporarily connect via ethernet.

You wouldn't want to move the router, but maybe you could temporarily move the Squeezebox--just to test--connecting it to some PC speakers.

Have you noticed any patterns as far as what is playing when it stutters vs. not? MP3s vs. FLAC, for instance. If MP3s play fine but FLAC start the stuttering, it would indicate a bandwidth issue. The network test would also show you that. You could try bitrate limiting to see if it helps.

I'm no expert, but signal strength of 30 doesn't sound very good. Even taking my SBBoom out in the yard my signal strength is still around 45-50.

I used to have a problem where my Squeezebox would start rebuffering all the time unless I set it to a static IP address. This was quite a while ago, so I don't know if it is still a problem, but I have all my Squeezeboxes set to static IPs now. Might be worth trying. I think you can do this through the Squeezebox settings, but I do it in my router settings.

Did you install the McAfee and PVConnect add-ins on your MediaSmart server? Both these add-ins were problematic for me. If you have them enabled, you might want to take them out and see if it helps.

aubuti
2008-09-21, 19:05
Apologies if you've tried this already and I missed it, but you could try repositioning your SB Receiver rather than the router. I believe some have reported that the placement of the antennae in the SBR is such that it sometimes works better if you can position it vertically instead of in its normal horizontal position.

100 feet from your neighbors is still close enough for interference from their networks and possibly their 2.4GHz phones. And that would be consistent with the intermittent nature of your problem. Remember that your wireless should be on a non-overlapping channel. So if your neighbor is on channel 6, it's not good enough for you to be on channel 4 -- in that case you should be on channel 1 or channel 11.

I'm not familiar with your router, but I know that SBs pointed up weaknesses in my old Netgear router, which would just get jammed up sometimes streaming FLACs, or even copying big batches of FLACs wirelessly from my laptop to my NAS.

Good luck! If you don't get it sorted out, homeplug networking is worth looking into.

what_to_buy
2008-09-21, 19:07
Thanks, Sue. I have experienced stuttering of .mp3, .m4a, and flac. But, it is the case that sometimes .mp3 will play when the others don't (like right now, with wireless signal strength at 53. Well, it was - now it is just stuttering again, wireless strength is unchanged). I know that with similar wireless signal strength, I have been able to play the other formats, so that just confuses me.

I was just looking into setting a lower total bitrate, but when the .mp3 stutters too, I wonder if it's worth it. UPDATE: I set the bitrate limit at 192, and with a wireless strength of 58, my .mp3 file is stuttering. It would have been nice if it was a temporary fix to do that - it's been disappointing to get this whole thing set up for my husband as a gift and then have it completely not work.

I haven't tried setting static IP addresses (I haven't done that before, but I have a nice new DLink DIR-655 that I know can do that somehow). I know that doing that and doing wiring are some things that may help. I wish that it was clear what problems would relate to which fix so I know what is worth my time to look into.

I hadn't thought of moving the receiver instead of the router - thanks for pointing that out to me. Maybe that's worth a try for whatever it's worth.

I never did install those add-ons - thanks for asking about that.

I'll keep checking here for any advice!

UPDATE: Okay, I'm upstairs with my squeezebox receiver and a wireless strength of 100%. But, I don't know what the music sounds like b/c the plugs don't seem to work with the desktop speakers I have up here! I just downloaded SoftSqueeze and things sound fine on that. Does that mean anything? UPDATE: I guess not since when I'm back downstairs with receiver wired to stereo, SoftSqueeze works fine whereas stereo receiver does not.

When I return downstairs and plug the receiver back in, I'm at a wireless strength of 38 and my FLAC music is playing fine. I feel like what I've learned is that powercycling my receiver helps. And, now it's stuttering again. Still at an overall loss.

Does this NetStumbler information seem helpful to anyone? All I get out of it is the channel information. My network is fiesta.

what_to_buy
2008-09-21, 20:22
Apologies if you've tried this already and I missed it, but you could try repositioning your SB Receiver rather than the router. I believe some have reported that the placement of the antennae in the SBR is such that it sometimes works better if you can position it vertically instead of in its normal horizontal position.

Thanks - I had read about that but not tried it yet. I just played around and my wireless strength did not change with 3 different positions.


100 feet from your neighbors is still close enough for interference from their networks and possibly their 2.4GHz phones. And that would be consistent with the intermittent nature of your problem. Remember that your wireless should be on a non-overlapping channel. So if your neighbor is on channel 6, it's not good enough for you to be on channel 4 -- in that case you should be on channel 1 or channel 11.

My neighbors channels seem to switch around, like mine does. Right now there are 2 on 6 and 1 on 11 with me. But, that varies.


I'm not familiar with your router, but I know that SBs pointed up weaknesses in my old Netgear router, which would just get jammed up sometimes streaming FLACs, or even copying big batches of FLACs wirelessly from my laptop to my NAS.

I bet that the router is often the problem. But, I just bought the DIR-655 draft n from DLink to prepare for all of this. I wish it was the router! If there was a way to know a new router other than this new router would fix it, I would buy it!


Good luck! If you don't get it sorted out, homeplug networking is worth looking into.

Thanks! If there was a good chance the homeplug strategy would fix this, I'll buy them. I wish someone could diagnose my problem. I guess that's my next thing to try. This is getting expensive.

maggior
2008-09-21, 21:01
Regarding the possibility of replacing your router - you could purchase one and try it out. Make sure you have time to try it out before the period where you can return expires. Chose a retailer that has a liberal return policy, such as Circuit City if you are in the US.

If it works out, keep it and you are all set. If not, then bring it back and get your money back.

It will almost be impossible to diagnose what is going on without replacing something.

It seems odd to me that you channels change automatically. That may be part of your problem IMO. It may be that when it is on certain channels it works better. You might be better off with a router that doesn't do that. Or perhaps you can disable that feature.

Regarding signal strength - I use 192 VBR mp3 files in my library and I have found that a signal strength of <50% is not good and will encounter dropouts. Anything above that has worked great for me. I think you are really pushing your luck with a signal of 30%.

A warning about noting your wireless signal strength - make sure that you are collecting that information from the same place when making your comparisons. With my SB3s, I've noticed that the web page, SB3 information screen, and setup screen will show very different values. I noticed this when I had to relocate my router and wanted to ensure I was getting good enough signal throughout the house.

Unfortunately, wireless networking sometimes is more of an art than science, especially if you are new to it! I had a frustrating time of it in the beginning, but I was fortunate enough to resolve my issues by finding an open channel in my neighborhood (10).

Good luck!

maggior
2008-09-21, 21:07
Looking at your netstumbler output, you should use channel 1. There are other networks on the middle channels and another one on the same channel you are using.

Channel 1 will get you far enough away from the other networks in your neighborhood. If you find the channel changes automatically, I would look into disabling that and forcing it to channel 1.

Doing that may give you a better signal since both signal strength AND interference are factored into the quality rating of the signal.

what_to_buy
2008-09-21, 21:15
It seems odd to me that you channels change automatically. That may be part of your problem IMO. It may be that when it is on certain channels it works better. You might be better off with a router that doesn't do that. Or perhaps you can disable that feature.

Yes, I've played around with that. I have it set to Channel 1, which is wide open right now, and I don't get an increase in signal strength, unfortunately.


Regarding signal strength - I use 192 VBR mp3 files in my library and I have found that a signal strength of <50% is not good and will encounter dropouts. Anything above that has worked great for me. I think you are really pushing your luck with a signal of 30%.

A warning about noting your wireless signal strength - make sure that you are collecting that information from the same place when making your comparisons. With my SB3s, I've noticed that the web page, SB3 information screen, and setup screen will show very different values. I noticed this when I had to relocate my router and wanted to ensure I was getting good enough signal throughout the house.

Good to know, thanks. I always check mine from my laptop's squeezecenter page > Settings > Status.


Unfortunately, wireless networking sometimes is more of an art than science, especially if you are new to it!

I hadn't realized just how true that statement is! I've been using a wireless network for years, but adding this new use to it is a whole new ballgame.

afblaster
2008-09-22, 00:13
I had similar problems - varying signal strength, dropouts and stuttering etc. I fixed the problem by installing a Netgear WGXB102 range extender kit and I now have good signal strength (on my duet controller) everywhere in the house.

Goodsounds
2008-09-22, 09:46
There have been a lot of good suggestions offered to help you, and it almost seems like you may have been dismissive of some of them. It is often a little thing here or there that makes all the difference. Everyone's experience can be different. The problem may not ultimately be what you think it should or ought to be, but you should try the suggestions offered. You seem to have been scrambling around trying what may be ultimately unnecessary things, stick to the basics first.

1. Try ethernet connection
2. If all is well, try wireless over short distance (Roll back firmware version in router and stop router from changing channels)
2a If not ok, try a different router
3. If Ok, need to boost signal to cover intended location.

If not OK at 1 or 2, need to exchange for another SBR or try Classic. Or, try calling tech support, they may have some ideas to help.

Good luck, stay calm.

what_to_buy
2008-09-22, 10:09
There have been a lot of good suggestions offered to help you, and it almost seems like you may have been dismissive of some of them. It is often a little thing here or there that makes all the difference. Everyone's experience can be different. The problem may not ultimately be what you think it should or ought to be, but you should try the suggestions offered. You seem to have been scrambling around trying what may be ultimately unnecessary things, stick to the basics first.

1. Try ethernet connection
2. If all is well, try wireless over short distance (Roll back firmware version in router and stop router from changing channels)
2a If not ok, try a different router
3. If Ok, need to boost signal to cover intended location.

If not OK at 1 or 2, need to exchange for another SBR or try Classic. Or, try calling tech support, they may have some ideas to help.

Good luck, stay calm.

Thanks for the feedback! I have rolled back the router firmware and I've fixed the router at channel 1, with no change. The router is upstairs in a room with double doors that stay open into a hallway and open stairwell. The SBR is at the bottom of the stairs through another set of always open double doors.

I guess that needing to boost my wireless signal is my problem, although that seems surprising. Softsqueeze plays the music fine anywhere, does that mean anything?

My plan is to buy something today that might fix this. My options seem to be (1) ethernet powerline adapters; (2) a really long ethernet cord just for testing purposes (wouldn't be feasible to leave it in place); (3) a new router even though I just bought this DLINK DIR-655 draft n about a month ago; (4) some type of router signal booster.

I'm leaning toward (1), but if anyone else has advice, please let me know. Thanks!

Themis
2008-09-22, 10:50
Since you haven't solved the problem yet, please try some of these, one at a time :

1. Be sure that the "Transmission power" on your router's wireless advanced settings is set to "High"
2. Uncheck "Short GI" on your router's wireless advanced settings

3. If you're not using any 802.11n clients (ie if none of your laptops has a wifi-n adapter) :
____ 3a. Set "Mixed 802.11g and 802.11b" for "802.11 Mode" on your router's wireless settings
____ 3b. Choose channel 5 on your router's wireless settings

Hope this will help.

BTW, ideally your WHS should be connected to your router with a Ethernet cable : this is the best way to minimize collisions and optimize wi-fi bandwidth.

what_to_buy
2008-09-22, 11:52
Since you haven't solved the problem yet, please try some of these, one at a time :

1. Be sure that the "Transmission power" on your router's wireless advanced settings is set to "High"
2. Uncheck "Short GI" on your router's wireless advanced settings

3. If you're not using any 802.11n clients (ie if none of your laptops has a wifi-n adapter) :
____ 3a. Set "Mixed 802.11g and 802.11b" for "802.11 Mode" on your router's wireless settings
____ 3b. Choose channel 5 on your router's wireless settings

Hope this will help.

BTW, ideally your WHS should be connected to your router with a Ethernet cable : this is the best way to minimize collisions and optimize wi-fi bandwidth.

Thanks so much for sharing these ideas with me. Your directions were very clear, so it was easy for me to try each thing. I tried them each and with various combinations, and my wireless strength (Squeezecenter on laptop > Settings > Status) remained at today's new low of 21 throughout. Just to confirm, I did click "save settings" in my router's interface for each change that I made.

Also, my set-up does include my WHS (MediaSmart server) being connected to my router via ethernet. The wireless part for me is from router to SBR.

I just don't understand why our laptops can stream music from the server (using Softsqueeze or MediaMonkey) while the SBR cannot.

Please feel free to share any other ideas with me. Thank you very much!

UPDATE: After changing the settings all back to what I had and then confirming that FLAC files still play fine through SoftSqueeze, I decided to check the wireless strength setting again. Now it's at 51, when 10 min ago with the identical settings it was at 21. I'm now listening to FLAC music through my stereo receiver. No doubt it will stop working shortly. UPDATE A FEW MINUTES LATER: Yes, it has stopped working again. This is so weird!

Themis
2008-09-22, 12:15
I just don't understand why our laptops can stream music from the server (using Softsqueeze or MediaMonkey) while the SBR cannot.That's easy to explain: laptops' are often designed to connect to public wireless networks, so their wireless adapters have a better reception capabilities. While your SBR is designed to work@home, with the wireless network being close to it. Home computers have the same problems as the SBR.

Honestly, IMO, if your tried all that, then the strength of your signal is NOT the problem. The problem comes from the placement of your router and your SBR, combined with the various electronic gear around them.
So, if you can't possibly change your router's position (which I can conceive), then I see only one solution left (as you proposed) : Get a couple of powerline eth adapters (the cheapest kind -14Mbs- should be more than enough for streaming audio to SBR).

BTW do you have a spare outlet for such adapters ? If not, then you should get a higher-speed ethernet adapter : when you use them with outlet strips their speed is lower than specified.

what_to_buy
2008-09-22, 12:19
That's easy to explain: laptops' are often designed to connect to public wireless networks, so their wireless adapters have a better reception capabilities. While your SBR is designed to work@home, with the wireless network being close to it. Home computers have the same problems as the SBR.

Honestly, IMHO, if your tried all that, then the strength of your signal is NOT the problem. The problem comes from the placement of your router and your SBR, combined with the various electronic gear around them.
So, if you can't possibly change your router's position (which I can conceive), then I see only one solution left (as you proposed) : Get a couple of powerline eth adapters (the cheapest kind -14Mbs- should be more than enough for streaming audio to SBR).

Thank you for your feedback. That makes sense to me. I will look into the powerline ethernet adapters.

Themis
2008-09-22, 12:37
(Repeat because I edited my prevous post too late):

BTW do you have a spare outlet for such adapters ? If not, then you should get a higher-speed ethernet powerline adapter : when you use them with outlet strips their speed is lower than specified.

Goodsounds
2008-09-22, 13:48
Good advice from Themis, I would follow that.

But first (because it will cost nothing and take very little time) :

I would put SC and some music onto a laptop, take that to your SBR, and connect with ethernet. Just to be sure that the problem is not a defective unit.

what_to_buy
2008-09-22, 13:49
Thanks for that advice. I was considering running an extension cord from a free outlet in the room over to the router (the power strip I would use right there is full of other devices). Downstairs I have the same situation for the SBR. So, I guess I'll buy two extension cords too!

what_to_buy
2008-09-22, 16:17
Just got back from Best Buy, where I purchased Netgear's 85 Mbps set of 2 ethernet powerline adapters. I also purchased two long ethernet cords in case I need longer ones than the ones included. I paid $129 for the adapters, which is more expensive than options online. But, I wanted to have an easy return option.

I plugged one in to the router and one in to the SBR. Presto - the music is playing!

Here's a dumb question: When an ethernet cable is plugged into the SBR, does it know to use that instead of a wireless connection, or is there a setting I have to change?

If this music keeps playing, I will be so happy!

MeSue
2008-09-22, 16:42
Here's a dumb question: When an ethernet cable is plugged into the SBR, does it know to use that instead of a wireless connection, or is there a setting I have to change?

I'm pretty sure you have to change it manually to use Ethernet. Not sure how from the controller, but from the remote, you would press and hold left to get back to the initial setup screens.

maggior
2008-09-22, 18:02
I'm pretty sure you have to change it manually to use Ethernet. Not sure how from the controller, but from the remote, you would press and hold left to get back to the initial setup screens.

I thought I read someplace that if you plug an ethernet cable into the back of the receiver, it automatically turns off the wireless.

I'll be darned if I can find the reference now though.

Having not done this myself, I'll leave it to somebody else to give you a definitive answer.

In the meantime, enjoy the music!! Glad you found something that worked for you.

what_to_buy
2008-09-22, 20:12
For the record, I was running my Squeezebox off wireless all evening (in one of the windows where it worked, by chance!). I unplugged the ethernet cable, and the music kept playing. So, I did factory resets of both controller and receiver (hopefully for the last time), and programmed the ethernet connection using the controller's set up prompts.

And, now the music is playing through ethernet. For the record, it's really nice how fast it is now switching around the music menus in the controller. Hopefully this is the happy ending to the story! Thanks for all the help.

maggior
2008-09-22, 20:40
I was going to suggest doing a factory reset, but I know from experience that going through the controller configuration is no fun. I would only suggest that as a last resort.

Hopefully you can now just sit back, relax, and enjoy your tunes!

Themis
2008-09-23, 10:45
And, now the music is playing through ethernet. For the record, it's really nice how fast it is now switching around the music menus in the controller. Hopefully this is the happy ending to the story! Thanks for all the help.
Great news !
I think that, after all this setup (SB, SqueezeCenter, Router, WHS, ripping, tagging, and numerous PC/laptops mini-setups), you REALLY deserve to lay back and enjoy the result !!! Congrats !

what_to_buy
2008-09-23, 11:47
Hahaha. It has been a very involved project. In addition to your list, there was also purchasing and learning MediaMonkey and dBpoweramp. I appreciate you helping me out on various threads related to the whole set up! Thanks! Of course, now my husband is playing music all day, and I want him to turn it down. ;-)

Goodsounds
2008-09-23, 13:04
Hahaha. It has been a very involved project. In addition to your list, there was also purchasing and learning MediaMonkey and dBpoweramp. I appreciate you helping me out on various threads related to the whole set up! Thanks! Of course, now my husband is playing music all day, and I want him to turn it down. ;-)

OK, so one last bit of setup to do. I don't know why, but the default decibel range that SC installs with is often unsuitable. Adjust those settings and you'll be happy.