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  1. #1
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    SB1 skipping / burping every few minutes

    After giving myself a six-month breather from the SB waiting for the software to mature, I hooked up my SB1 last night and I'm having problems. I'm willing to accept that the problem is with my configuration but I need a little help with the diagnosis.

    The problem: audio playback will pause/choke for 5-10 seconds every few minutes.

    The setup:
    File Server Computer: Windows 2000 PC, P3-500 with 512MB RAM and one 250GB EIDE hard drive, 10/100 card. The server is not running any hosting services, it's merely a Windows 2K server with an active shared directory.

    SlimServer Computer: (version downloaded last night, but not a nightly) Mac Mini running OS 10.4 with all updates, 1.42GHz G4, 1GB RAM, 10/100 card. The Mac isn't used for anything other than e-mail, iTunes, etc. I'm not running bittorrent clients or anything nutty that would eat up the bandwidth.

    Both servers are hooked to a Linksys router/WAP/switch combo (WAP 54G, I believe) with the latest firmware (factory). All the cables check out and are terminated T568-B (as though it matters).

    I'm running SlimServer on the Mac Mini because I use iTunes on the Mac with my iPod. The iTunes .xml file is stored on the Mac Mini but the music files are on a network share on the file server.

    I'm using the analog outputs of the SB1, not the digital. Library scanning doesn't take very long but I have approximately 500 CDs ripped in APPLE LOSSLESS. Streaming from Internet radio sources seems to be working just fine so I'm leaning towards a file transfer bottleneck somewhere. On the other hand, I can open iTunes on the Mac and stream music off the server just like it were on the local hard drive without a hint of hiccup.

    Is the problem:

    1. Buffering problems with large file sizes over the network
    2. Bottleneck caused by the (presumably) slow file server
    3. Bottleneck caused by the file transfer twixt server & Mac
    4. Slimserver in general
    5. SB1 in general
    6. Network Topography
    7. SlimServer being separated from music files on a different machine
    8. Sunspots
    9. Other

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Update: I got home from work and now the problem is every 10 seconds or so and lasts for up to 40 seconds.

  3. #3
    Ben Sandee
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    Re: SB1 skipping / burping every few minutes

    On 12/13/05, hualon <hualon.2009mn (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:
    >
    >
    > Update: I got home from work and now the problem is every 10 seconds or
    > so and lasts for up to 40 seconds.
    >


    Is the SB1 connected via Wireless? The SB1 buffer isn't huge --
    particularly when streaming lossless audio. You might be suffering from
    wireless network issues. The fact that you can play internet radio (low
    bitrate, low bandwidth) indicates that this might be the issue:

    Find your convert.conf and look for this section:

    ## you can comment this out if you want to use LAME to transcode AAC/MOV
    files to MP3.
    mov aif * *
    [mov123] $FILE$

    Try commenting out the lines by prefixing them with "#". This will force
    the server to transcode your lossless files to MP3 which is much less
    bandwidth-intensive. Restart SlimServer after doing this. If this works
    then you should check your wireless reception. It has to be VERY good
    reception in order to stream lossless reliably over a 802.11b connection.

    Ben


  4. #4
    Senior Member Michaelwagner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Sandee
    Is the SB1 connected via Wireless? The SB1 buffer isn't huge -- particularly when streaming lossless audio.
    Something like 5-8 seconds with lossy MP3s for an SB1. Tough if you don't have perfect reception. And worse if running lossless.

    The SB1 uses 802.11b, which is roughly 11Mb/s. So when it tries to fill the buffer, it's slow. And the buffer is 8MB.

    The SB2/3 is a better box for this. It's 802.11g, roughly 5 times faster. The buffer is 5 times bigger (40MB).

    Both of those factors make it more fault tolerant.

    That being said, we don't know the problem is wireless health. Try an experiment. Wire it up to ethernet and see if the problem goes away. If not, that's not it.

    Oh, data from:
    http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cg...wareComparison
    Last edited by Michaelwagner; 2005-12-14 at 00:02. Reason: added wiki link

  5. #5
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    The SB is connected via a wired connection.

    I was looking at the server activity and I noticed that on the Mac Mini (the Slim Server), I'm not receiving a sustained stream of incoming data from the file server.

    When I look at the graph on the file server, I can see that it's transmitting data out not at a sustained bitrate but in pulses. The graph for the transmission data line peaks at 200KB/s or so and then plummets to 0KB/s for a second or so and then peaks back up.

    So if I stop the SB playing and I stream the exact same file from the server into iTunes on the Mac Mini, I get a sustained transfer speed from the server of 130KB/s - 145KB/s with no plummets below that.

    So it seems that when SlimServer (on the Mac Mini) requests a file, there are periodic dropouts from the server's transmission line but when iTunes (on the Mac Mini) requests the same file, there's a consistent data stream with no dropouts.

    So... is the problem the buffer in the SB1? That's very frustrating if that's the case since it's *supposed* to be capable of playing lossless files. I've had this problem since day 1 when I bought the SB1 new and nobody ever suggested that the SB could be the problem since there are so many other variables in the system.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Michaelwagner's Avatar
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    I don't know anything about apple lossless, or about apples in general, but it sounds like a dispatching problem on the mac mini. I can't think of a good reason that the server would stop sending data for one second unless the mac wasn't dispatching it.

    If you have a packet sniffer, you should see a steady stream of packets back from the SB1, saying, amongst other things, buffer fullness. Do you? Do they get through? Is there a firewall somewhere in here?

    If you're running a recent version of slimserver, there is a network health page that may help.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michaelwagner
    I don't know anything about apple lossless, or about apples in general, but it sounds like a dispatching problem on the mac mini. I can't think of a good reason that the server would stop sending data for one second unless the mac wasn't dispatching it.

    If you have a packet sniffer, you should see a steady stream of packets back from the SB1, saying, amongst other things, buffer fullness. Do you? Do they get through? Is there a firewall somewhere in here?

    If you're running a recent version of slimserver, there is a network health page that may help.
    I'm not sure if there's a problem with the Mac or not. When I first had this SB hooked up, I was using *only* the P3-500 server and I was getting hiccups all the time too.

    There's no firewall inside the network but there is one at the router going out to the Internet, that's not an issue.

    How do I determine "buffer fullness" by using a packet sniffer on the SB1?

    I am running the latest SlimServer from the site downloaded on Friday night. I don't want to move SlimServer over to the file server because then I'll lose my iTunes integration.

    So if the SB1 is converting the lossless files down to MP3 and, therefore, completely destroying the POINT of having lossless files, could I just lower the stream size down in SlimServer?

    -J

  8. #8
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    SB1 skipping / burping every few minutes

    On 14/12/05 at 06:05 -0800, hualon wrote
    >So if the SB1 is converting the lossless files down to MP3 and,
    >therefore, completely destroying the POINT of having lossless files,
    >could I just lower the stream size down in SlimServer?


    Well, it doesn't *completely* destroy the point of having lossless
    files, as once you have them they are there for any wanted future use.

    You don't say what variety of lossless files you have. If you have
    aiff files, the wired SB will play them without transcoding. If you
    have Apple lossless files, they will have to be transcoded, and it
    may be that the issue is there.
    --
    Daniel Cohen

  9. #9
    Senior Member Michaelwagner's Avatar
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    sorry, I wasn't very clear. The packet sniffer won't tell you by itself buffer fullness. One of the packets tells you that, but unless you can decipher the packets, it's not obvious (they're stored in certain packets, in binary, etc).

    Better is to turn on the server health thing and let it analyze the packets and tell you.

    Or turn on the buffer fullness display on the SB1.

  10. #10
    Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by danco
    On 14/12/05 at 06:05 -0800, hualon wrote[color=blue]

    You don't say what variety of lossless files you have. If you have
    aiff files, the wired SB will play them without transcoding. If you
    have Apple lossless files, they will have to be transcoded, and it
    may be that the issue is there.
    I did, actually. They're all Apple lossless. Does that transcoding take place on the SlimServer or in the SB?

    How do I turn on the buffer fullness display?

    Can someone from Slim comment on this? I fail to understand why there can be a fundamental problem with playback of an officially supported file (Apple Lossless) that is *not* the fault of the host software or network topology. It seems to me then that the fault lies entirely in the hardware of the SB1 meaning that it does not, in fact, WORK as advertised.

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