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  1. #1
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    Confused and disheartened of the UK

    I have had my wireless SB3 a few months now and have had many niggly problems. I bought it just for the internet radio facility - radio choice in the UK is at best pretty limited. To cut a long story short, to access Internet radio I have been manually selecting stations from within the SB3 - unfortunately this meant I could not access any of the AlienBBC stations or anything else not listed.

    A new laptop has been bought and at last thought I had the SB3 under control - last night I was actually playing, for the first time ever, AlienBBC, no blips, pops stutters, yes it was working - real music. I created a new favourites list from within SB3 of purely AlienBBC stations and amused myself from jumping from free form jazz to early music via Norwegian fiddle music. It also sounded great.

    This is it - the key had been unlocked - however, that was yesterday :-(

    Today, I thought I would impress my wife by demonstrating how she can now, at any time, replay the latest Steve Wright show.

    So I switched on the SB3 and connected to the squeezenetwork - as per normal - shock horror, my new AlienBBC favourites had disappeared along with the AlienBBC facility.

    Switch on the laptop - fire up slimserver, nothing - make sure your SB3 is switched on - well I know it is - I am actually listening to it. The only way I can connect to the slimserver is to go into the SB3, and force a connection to the Laptop.

    It then coughs into life - hey presto the SB3 favourites again contain my new AlienBBC selections.

    However, go back to a SB3 to squeezenetwork connection, and I am back to an old favourites list.

    Why does the AlienBBC option disappear when connected to the squeezenetwork? Where does my old favourites list go to? Why can't I just use the SB3 as a stand alone item? Why can't slimserver automatically connect to the SB3? Why can't the AlienBBC stay resident in the SB3?


    And to cap it all, tonight I am back to serious stopping and starting on AlienBBC. It works fine for a while then goes into meltdown - one blip of sound every sec or so. I even had the laptop next to the wireless router with the sb3 next to the laptop - nope, no joy.

    SB3 on its own works fine - albeit with the limited functionality.

    Why am I spending hours and hours trying to get this thing going & reading endless posts? It is all becoming too hair shirt for me.

    It is a real shame as when it is working it is great. Also I can not criticise the level of support from Slim Devices.

    The whole relationship between the slimserver and SB3 is totally confusing. They just don't seem to get on. When slimserver is communicating with the SB3, is SB3 talking directly to the web, or is it going via the Laptop. Who knows.

  2. #2
    Senior Member radish's Avatar
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    Your SB3 can be connected to SqueezeNetwork or Slimserver. Not both. AlienBBC, as it performs format conversion of the streams, requires a local Slimserver. So if you want to use SqueezeNetwork you can't use AlienBBC, and vice versa.

    The whole relationship between the slimserver and SB3 is totally confusing. They just don't seem to get on.
    There is no relationship - they're entirely seperate. Squeezenetwork is just a public Slimserver running in California, useful if you don't have a local server but limited in what it can do.

  3. #3
    Senior Member snarlydwarf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by derekc View Post
    The whole relationship between the slimserver and SB3 is totally confusing. They just don't seem to get on. When slimserver is communicating with the SB3, is SB3 talking directly to the web, or is it going via the Laptop. Who knows.
    Well that confusion is part of why you are confused, so perhaps I can help.

    The Squeezebox is a "slim device," (hence the company name) or in less polite terms, a dumb terminal.

    It obviously has no local disc, so you can't store music on it, but it also has very little else: it has a very nice crisp display, some great audio circuitry, a network interface or two if you have wireless, and a CPU to tie all those together. The real functionality (what to display, where music lives, even whether it is "on" or "off") all comes from a server. There isn't even a clock on the Squeezebox: when it displays time, that is because the server said, "hey, draw this!" and it has no idea what it is drawing.

    Squeezebox2 and later can either use a local server for control, or they can use Squeezenetwork. They can only be on one or the other at a given time, just like a network aware printer can only print from one machine at a time or you would have a mess.

    The "problem" with the BBC radio programs is that they are in Real Audio, so they can't be on Squeezenetwork. (Assuming it was legal, your radio station would have to send all its data to California, be re-encoded as mp3, and then retransmitted back. Lots of room for failure and degraded audio to boot! In practice, it would almost certainly require Slim to get a license for re-encoding the station.)

    So the best way to do formats like Real Audio is to have your local server do it: it can grab the station directly, and then transcode it to a WAV or FLAC (lossless! so no further degradation in quality) and then send it to your Squeezebox.

    It does mean you need to keep your laptop on for BBC radio, which is why a lot of people either piece together a cheapo box or a NAS device and use that for a server.

    Remember very little is actually -in- the Squeezebox: the playlists and favorites are saved on a server. Remembering which server that is (either your own or Squeezenetwork's) can be tricky. Slim hopes to make the transition between local and squeezenetwork more transparent in the future, but that will be a while.

  4. #4
    Senior Member slimpy's Avatar
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    The squeezebox always needs a server to connect to. The server controls almost every aspect of the device. The server tells it what to display (even the time display in the off state is sent by the server), sends the audio data, even button presses on the remote control are sent to and processed by the server.
    When you want to listen to your own music you need to connect the squeezebox to your local slimserver.
    You can also listen to internet radio this way. The server software reads the data from the internet radio stream and sends it to the squeezebox. If you listen to BBC streams slimserver delegates the processing of the stream to AlienBBC because it cannot handle the data format of the stream. AlienBBC converts the stream into a format slimserver understands and can send to the squeezebox.

    SqueezeNetwork is nothing more than a public slimserver in the internet. Instead of connecting to your local server you connect to a server provided by Slimdevices.

    You can only connect to one or the other, not both.
    Because none (except network settings) of your preferences are stored in the squeezebox (it's a rather dumb device, remember?) but on the server you won't have the same settings in SqueezeNetwork and your own server.
    You won't be able to listen to any streams that require AlienBBC when connected to SqueezeNetwork because AlienBBC is not installed on that server.

    I hope this gives you an idea of how the squeezebox, slimserver and SqueezeNetwork work together.

    -s.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by radish View Post
    Your SB3 can be connected to SqueezeNetwork or Slimserver. Not both. AlienBBC, as it performs format conversion of the streams, requires a local Slimserver. So if you want to use SqueezeNetwork you can't use AlienBBC, and vice versa.


    There is no relationship - they're entirely seperate. Squeezenetwork is just a public Slimserver running in California, useful if you don't have a local server but limited in what it can do.
    Thanks - this has moved my understanding on - I did not realise squeezenetwork was just a server somewhere - I guess the simple question is why can't AlienBBC be loaded on this - but I think you have probably answered this.

    The question I have is please though - for clarity - when the SB3 is connected to the slimserver, is the data streamed first into the laptop, processed and sent across to the SB3? If this is true, when the stream gets the dreaded jitters - is it possible to break into this procedure to see if it is leaving the laptop entact. This would be a real help in understanding where the probelm is. Hope this makes sense.

  6. #6
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    Without trying to complicate thing, just 2 comments ....

    1) You mention placing the laptop router & SB3 close together to solve dropouts.

    This kind of implies that you have a wireless card in your laptop communicating with the same router as the SB3. This is a poor network design that is know to cuase issues as there are 2 wireless "hops" involved in getting data from the machine running Slimserver to the SB3.

    I suggest a wired link from the machine running Slimserver to your router.

    2) You talk about listening to the Steve Wright show while it's live on the BBC.

    The BBC can only support a finite number of streams before users start to experience dropouts in the audio. The more popular the stream, the more likely for this to occur. This is why they don't even bother to stream the likes of Wogan and J. Ross live. The Beeb provides the "listen again" links to try to spread the load on their servers. You'll find that a PC running Realplayer would be experiencing similar dropouts as the SB3 is when stream Steve Wright, although Realplayer might buffer the data better.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by derekc View Post
    The question I have is please though - for clarity - when the SB3 is connected to the slimserver, is the data streamed first into the laptop, processed and sent across to the SB3? If this is true, when the stream gets the dreaded jitters - is it possible to break into this procedure to see if it is leaving the laptop entact. This would be a real help in understanding where the probelm is. Hope this makes sense.
    Depends what data - if it's from your own music collection, it gets pulled off the disc by SlimServer. The disc can be on the SlimServer machine, on an external drive or on your network.

    If it's Internet radio data, as of SlimServer 6.5, SlimServer merely acts as a helper, the stream is actually sent directly to your Squeezebox. You could even turn your SlimServer off at this point, which would cause your display to go dark as SlimServer can't send anything more to it, and you couldn't change streams as that functionality is contained in SlimServer. But the stream should still play.

    Jittery Internet radio is often caused by web congestion - your wireless network has way more bandwidth than the pipe used to feed Internet radio to you, so the performance playing local files and Internet radio will be different. However, there have been reports of poor SqueezeNetwork performance for about a week now, so it's best to play Internet radio through SlimServer at the moment.

  8. #8
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    There is no definitive way to identify the cause of you BBC start/stop problems but it sounds like an internet issues.

    When you have the problem - are you listening to Live or Listen Again streams.

    If the stream from the BBC breaks down and the buffer in AlienBBC is depleted - the stream will revert to short burst of sound followed by silence. This will generally only happen in live streams. If the BBC is the problem then if you press << - the stream will be restarted and buffer refilled and live stream will start again in about 10 secs.

    If the problem happens with Listen Again then it is likely to be a something to do with wireless - if you install Lame and then disable RTSP->WAV and RTSP->FLAC, it should minimise the problem as you will used MP3 to SB and not Flac.

    Finally, in the UK you can listen to BBC WMA streams for live stations - this can be done with Squeezenetwork. I can't say how good or bad are these streams.

  9. #9
    Senior Member snarlydwarf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Lanctot View Post
    If it's Internet radio data, as of SlimServer 6.5, SlimServer merely acts as a helper, the stream is actually sent directly to your Squeezebox. You could even turn your SlimServer off at this point, which would cause your display to go dark as SlimServer can't send anything more to it, and you couldn't change streams as that functionality is contained in SlimServer. But the stream should still play.
    True, but only for native format stations. The catch with the BBC is that they like Real which isnt native to the SB.

  10. #10
    Marc Sherman
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    Re: Confused and disheartened of the UK

    derekc wrote:
    >
    > The question I have is please though - for clarity - when the SB3 is
    > connected to the slimserver, is the data streamed first into the
    > laptop, processed and sent across to the SB3? If this is true, when the
    > stream gets the dreaded jitters - is it possible to break into this
    > procedure to see if it is leaving the laptop entact. This would be a
    > real help in understanding where the probelm is. Hope this makes sense.


    In the case of AlienBBC, the data is pulled into slimserver, transcoded,
    and then streamed to the sb3.

    If your laptop is connecting to the internet via an 802.11 interface,
    that means that the music data is making _3_ wireless hops --
    internet->router->server, server->router, router->sb3. If so, I'm
    surprised it ever worked. It is strongly recommended that the computer
    running slimserver have a wired connection.

    - Marc

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