Squeezebox 3 - Going to have to settle for MP3 rather than FLAC...

NeilF

Well-known Member
Well, I spent about 5-6hrs trying to get my SB working last night.

The unit is in my lounge about 15ft away from my router which is in my study.

It appears from some posts on the slimdevices forums my wireless network is simply not up to the rate FLAC requires. It cannot transmit 1000kbps reliably enough. 500kbps yes, but not 1000kbps.

And this is with the unit in a compromised position in the louge, ie: not where I'd ideally like it, but somewhere where I can put up with it - This position is about 5-6ft closer to the router and increases the signal strength from about 30 odd % upto about 60-70 odd %.

So, I think if I wish to use the unit I'll have to use 320K MP3 instead of FLAC. I'm not overly concerned about this as from what I've read (& thus far tested) it's very hard to hear any difference, even when actively comparing the two, yet alone just listening to it 'none-the-wiser'. Also it means I use about a third of the disc space as well :)

Just wondering what other SB owners have encountered with their wireless config etc?
 

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
Signal strength is signal strength, not signal speed. 50% signal strength does not mean you will be running at 50% the speed. If it got really bad, you might get some drop outs - but while its working it will be normal speed. But the buffer on the SB3 is very good.

I ran an ad-hok (the worst and most unreliable type) wireless network at slow 'b' speeds for a year (often at 20-30% signal), not even a single glitch - all with FLAC.

Don't panic, rip to FLAC. It will be fine :)

There are other benefits to FLAC too, do some searching - achieving with lossless files had been talked about a lot recently.
 

NeilF

Well-known Member
Signal strength is signal strength, not signal speed. 50% signal strength does not mean you will be running at 50% the speed. If it got really bad, you might get some drop outs - but while its working it will be normal speed. But the buffer on the SB3 is very good.

I ran an ad-hok (the worst and most unreliable type) wireless network at slow 'b' speeds for a year (often at 20-30% signal), not even a single glitch - all with FLAC.

Don't panic, rip to FLAC. It will be fine :)

There are other benefits to FLAC too, do some searching - achieving with lossless files had been talked about a lot recently.
I cannot currently use FLAC - Simple as that.

If I try using this format:-
- If I try using the menu (eg: to find another track) on the SB I get stuttering almost straight away.
- If I use the PC (slimserver) to do almost anything, again the stuttering starts.

If I do tests from the SB to the slimserver 1000k gets a rating of about 50% I think, whereas 500k gets around 100%.

If I use 320K mp3 the unit seems rock solid, I guess as this is well below 500k speeds.


I'll do some more tests thanks to some helpful advice from the Slimdevices forum to try and improve my wireless network, but I don't think it will help enough to make FLAC viable.


For all accounts (& my own quick tests) its very hard to hear any difference between CD and 320K MP3, yet alone say if it just sounds a bit different or worse! And also I'm going through an AV amp not a dedicated stereo one, so I suspect that will make it nigh on impossible to hear any difference!

So to have a usuable SB, with a third the disc usage, I'm happy to go LAME 320k MP3 :)
 

badbob

Banned
If you're having wireless problems, and have to use lossy instead of lossless, I would choose OGG over MP3. Sounds better imo.

320kps mp3 still sounds "wrong"
 

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
I think there is something else going on, you dont need a huge amount of bandwidth for FLAC. What's in the transcoding options in SS? FLAC- FLAC or FLAC to WAV? It could also be a server problem, does you PC slow down a lot when using it? do you have anti-virus (Norton wreaks havoc with this kind of think).


The reason MP3's sound better is probably because they are easier to buffer by the SB3 - the stuttering remember is when the buffer gets empty - not when the network cuts out or slows down (although they will cause the buffer to become empty). Using MP3 is helping, but the underlying problem could be a number of things like interference. And if thats the case, you are still going to get problems in the future so its worth getting the FLAC problem sorted rather than settling for MP3.


FLAC is good BTW because you can transcode to to other formats without having to rip your CD's ever again. Very helpful if you have a large amount of CD's.

Good luck :)
 

NeilF

Well-known Member
If you're having wireless problems, and have to use lossy instead of lossless, I would choose OGG over MP3. Sounds better imo.

320kps mp3 still sounds "wrong"
Don't know much about OGG but unless it compressed the track down then it won't help. I need files that are less than 500k/s, eg: 320k MP3s. FLAC are up at about 1000K/s which my network isn't handling :(

As for your opinion on "wrong", that is your opinion. I'll test again tonight, but thus far I really cannot hear a difference on my setup.
 

NeilF

Well-known Member
I think there is something else going on, you dont need a huge amount of bandwidth for FLAC. What's in the transcoding options in SS? FLAC- FLAC or FLAC to WAV? It could also be a server problem, does you PC slow down a lot when using it? do you have anti-virus (Norton wreaks havoc with this kind of think).


The reason MP3's sound better is probably because they are easier to buffer by the SB3 - the stuttering remember is when the buffer gets empty - not when the network cuts out or slows down (although they will cause the buffer to become empty). Using MP3 is helping, but the underlying problem could be a number of things like interference. And if thats the case, you are still going to get problems in the future so its worth getting the FLAC problem sorted rather than settling for MP3.

FLAC is good BTW because you can transcode to to other formats without having to rip your CD's ever again. Very helpful if you have a large amount of CD's.
Surely you need around 1000K/s of bandwidth for FLAC? In my case my 1000k/s test from the SB shows very poor results, hence my problem(s).

The machine in question is a nice clean 3Ghz machine. I actually closed down virtually everything I could on it, including AVG. No I don't use Norton - Blah!


The options (ticked) in SS for File Types>FILE FORMAT CONVERSION SETUP are:-
File: FLAC - Stream: FLAC - Decoder: (Built-in)
File: FLAC - Stream: WAV - Decoder: flac

What does that mean?


I generated the FLAC files in MediaMonkey with the FLAC option set to the highest compression.
 

badbob

Banned
Don't know much about OGG but unless it compressed the track down then it won't help. I need files that are less than 500k/s, eg: 320k MP3s. FLAC are up at about 1000K/s which my network isn't handling :(

As for your opinion on "wrong", that is your opinion. I'll test again tonight, but thus far I really cannot hear a difference on my setup.

OGG is a lossless audio format, like MP3. But it's generally held in higher regard for sound quality at much lower bitrate. Sb3 supports OGG so that isn't a problem.

Mp3 sounds splashy, and bass seems to be overblown. With OGG it sounds more like the original CD with no nasty lossy artefacts.
 

NeilF

Well-known Member
OGG is a lossless audio format, like MP3. But it's generally held in higher regard for sound quality at much lower bitrate. Sb3 supports OGG so that isn't a problem.

Mp3 sounds splashy, and bass seems to be overblown. With OGG it sounds more like the original CD with no nasty lossy artefacts.
Umm.. OGG is not lossless isn't it?

And according to this OGG and LAME MP3 are much the same... http://www.digit-life.com/articles/oggvslame/
 

badbob

Banned
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogg

Supports 16kps-500kps. 128kps OGG sounds far better than 128kps (both VBR) and 182kps OGG sounds better than 320kps MP3 (both VBR) IMO

Umm.. OGG is lossless isn't it?
err no.

And according to this OGG and LAME MP3 are much the same
Nope, played back OGG and MP3 on a expensive Naim system, double blind ABX test, a Hi-Fi nut preferred the OGG version.
 

BlueMan

Novice Member
I'm not sure of your layout/logistics but could you use 85Mbps homeplugs as the transmission medium rather than wireless? Not very expensive for just two.
 

NeilF

Well-known Member
I'm not sure of your layout/logistics but could you use 85Mbps homeplugs as the transmission medium rather than wireless? Not very expensive for just two.
A pair of these is going to be like £50! :( (eg: Solwise 85 Mbps ones)

Do I need the 85mbps ones (bearing in mind you'll never get near their suggested figures)? The far cheaper 1.4mbps ones would be risking it probably for FLAC?! ie: If they don't get any where near 1.4mbps and drop below 1mbps.
 

NeilF

Well-known Member
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogg

Supports 16kps-500kps. 128kps OGG sounds far better than 128kps (both VBR) and 182kps OGG sounds better than 320kps MP3 (both VBR) IMO



err no.



Nope, played back OGG and MP3 on a expensive Naim system, double blind ABX test, a Hi-Fi nut preferred the OGG version.
SOrry I was stating OGG IS lossful :) The previous guy had said (by mistake I think) it was lossless :)


So if I used 320kbps OGG (q9?) instead of 320kps MP3?
 

NeilF

Well-known Member
Yup. Try auToV OGG encoder. Use VBR, otherwise silence will still take up space.
I'll use the OGG encoder in MediaMonkey on Q9 setting. This is 320kbps, which actually works out at about 348, and makes the file just a bit bigger than the MP3 version I believe...
 

city fan

Novice Member
Hi guys

Been lurking over this forum for a short time now, and since getting my new speakers and having IMO a reasonable, although fairly old receiver in my Marantz, I'm concerned over my music quality.

I use Windows Media player and connect to my amp via the 3.5mm jack at the back of the computer with a fairly long lead to an analogue input on the back of the amp.

Most of my music is 128kps, with some 160, 256. At 128 I can hear distortion, lack of clarity, things improve at higher rates. Compared to a CD played on the XE1 though MP3 sounds a lot worse.

Is there anything I can do to improve my sound, at little cost. I suppose I could burn some tunes onto a CD and play on the XE1 (will have to get a burner first though:eek:). Any suggestions welcome....Thanks
 

chamill

Novice Member
Well it honestly depends. if you are using downloaded music then at those bitrates they are never going to be CD quality. Burning to CD and encoding again will most likely make things worse.

Nothing beats the original CD. download in FLAC or other lossless formats if u can
 

city fan

Novice Member
Well it honestly depends. if you are using downloaded music then at those bitrates they are never going to be CD quality. Burning to CD and encoding again will most likely make things worse.

Nothing beats the original CD. download in FLAC or other lossless formats if u can
Thanks. Just been looking at FLAC on Google. If I download the relevant program I can then convert my crappy MP3 128kps files into a lossless format. Is that correct?

If not where can I go to download lossless tunes?
 

NeilF

Well-known Member
Thanks. Just been looking at FLAC on Google. If I download the relevant program I can then convert my crappy MP3 128kps files into a lossless format. Is that correct?

If not where can I go to download lossless tunes?
Please don't thread hi-jack! :( :thumbsdow

Converting your mp3s into FLAC will make no difference to them. The compression has dropped information which is gone forever. You'll either have to stick with them as is, or re-rip them from CD into FLAC.

Please start a new thread for more questions... I'm trying to resolve my Squeeze Box issue :(
 

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
The options (ticked) in SS for File Types>FILE FORMAT CONVERSION SETUP are:-
File: FLAC - Stream: FLAC - Decoder: (Built-in)
File: FLAC - Stream: WAV - Decoder: flac

What does that mean?
Although the SB3 can work with just about any file format - actually it doesnt... Formats which the SB3 does not work with natively get converted to another native format which the SB3 can play first by Slimserver. So for example ALAC - this is a non-native format with the SB3 can't play. Slimserver converts it to something native before sending over the network, usually WAV. The up side of using WAV is that you dont lose any quality (converting lossy to lossy causes major sound quality problems). The down side is tha WAV's are large files that need much more bandwidth.

If possible, always rip to a native format - transcoding non-native files can cause problems including - syncing players, with gapless playback, slowing the server down, network load and fastforwarding/rewinding tracks.

FLAC is native to the SB3, one of the reasons people recommend it for the SB3. So the FLAC's get sent as they are to the SB3, and the SB3 can decode and play them. Same for MP3 and OGG - see the Slim Devices WiKi for more info.

Its possible the FLACs are being send as WAV. They dont need to be, so just have FLAC -> FLAC selected.
 

Mark Ward

Active Member
I'm trying to resolve my Squeeze Box issue :(
OK, I just checked my setting for you...

I'm getting 78% wireless signal strength at over 20feet through an 18 inch thick stone wall.

Flac plays perfectly. I have a wired point within easy reach but don't use it as I just don't need it and so no point in yet another cable running to the coffee table.

It is achievable.

I have a Netgear Rangemax Wireless Access point that the SB3 connects to and I'm very happy with it.

Perhaps the issue is your router's aerial signal strength?

Mark.
 

NeilF

Well-known Member
Although the SB3 can work with just about any file format - actually it doesnt... Formats which the SB3 does not work with natively get converted to another native format which the SB3 can play first by Slimserver. So for example ALAC - this is a non-native format with the SB3 can't play. Slimserver converts it to something native before sending over the network, usually WAV. The up side of using WAV is that you dont lose any quality (converting lossy to lossy causes major sound quality problems). The down side is tha WAV's are large files that need much more bandwidth.

If possible, always rip to a native format - transcoding non-native files can cause problems including - syncing players, with gapless playback, slowing the server down, network load and fastforwarding/rewinding tracks.

FLAC is native to the SB3, one of the reasons people recommend it for the SB3. So the FLAC's get sent as they are to the SB3, and the SB3 can decode and play them. Same for MP3 and OGG - see the Slim Devices WiKi for more info.

Its possible the FLACs are being send as WAV. They dont need to be, so just have FLAC -> FLAC selected.
That's what's confusing me... There are two entries for FLACS ticked:-
File: FLAC - Stream: FLAC - Decoder: (Built-in)
File: FLAC - Stream: WAV - Decoder: flac

Surely the second one should never be considered for the SB3? So it shouldn't be ticked?
 

NeilF

Well-known Member
Hi,

I'm surprised to read that doing anything on your pc causes stuttering on your squeezebox. Are you sure it's your network that's at fault here? Does "anything" mean anything network related (eg surfing, playing online games) or simply anything, such as writing letters etc.?

Anyway, have you downloaded and installed Netstumbler from here. It will show any neighbouring networks and what channels they're using. Might be as simple as changing channels to get your wireless strength and stability up.

Still puzzled about your pc tho. Apologies if I missed where you mentioned it but is your pc wired to the router or wireless too?
By chance (& someones recommendation) I updated the firmware on my router from a version from Jan to mid-year, and voila!!! All sorted! Infact my girlfriends laptop had always had problems connecting to my network, and now it's fine as well... I guess that Jan release was a bit poor!

I'm still interested in my other question though (regainding the setup in SlimServer):-

There are two entries for FLACS ticked:-
File: FLAC - Stream: FLAC - Decoder: (Built-in)
File: FLAC - Stream: WAV - Decoder: flac

Surely the second one should never be considered for the SB3? So it shouldn't be ticked?
 

stevos

Distinguished Member
I currently have my squeezebox3 connected by wire but i had it for around a year wirelessly and had no problems at all streaming flac (maybe 1 or 2 drop outs a week).

Dont' forget the s3 can connect at 56mps (if your using 8011.1a/b it won't work only g or above), which is massively more than is needed. Also make sure you are using wpa as this helps with error correction.

I did have a problem with my router originally, where it was dropping out a lot, but that was solved by a simple firmware patch.

Sounds like something isn't quiet right to me.
 

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
Just have FLAC to FLAC selected. I think FLAC to WAV is in there for people who had SB1's, as SB1's did not do decode FLAC natively if i remember correctly.
 

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