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Discussion Starter #1
I've had random problems with my Russound MCA-C5 audio distribution system for more than six months. It is strange -- sometimes certain keypad locations don't work (keypads are powered up and display correctly but there is no sound). Sometimes when sound is playing in one room, turning on a keypad in another room will make the sound turn off in the first room. Or sometimes the sound won't turn on in the second room unless I power down the first keypad. We've also had the system come on loudly by itself in the middle of the night -- that sure made us jump out of bed!

If I power down the C5 and turn it back on the problem may get better for an hour or so, but maybe that's just my perception. It may just make the system operate weirdly in a different random way.

The same problems occur when I used the Russound app for control from a phone.

Our Russound installer said the factory told him that maybe there is a bad software download, so the installer came and re-flashed the software in the C5 and it appeared to work OK for about a day or two, but I did not put the unit through all its permutations and configurations with the various keypads. Then it went back to its old random behavior.

My Russound installer does not have a lot of experience with the C5 and he keeps pushing us to drop back to the C3 but that's not a good solution because I want the power output of the C5.

The cabinet is open so there is no heat problem.

Has anyone experienced this problem? Is it possible there are newer software updates that address these problems? Could it be faulty memory on our control board?

Thanks,
Bill
 

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Sounds like bad software install.

There are specific instructions for flashing, including disconnecting the keypads and the FM antenna prior to start.

Are any of the keypads additional to the ones that shipped with the unit?

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hi Tim,

All of the keypads are original.

I also wondered if the flash was bad, but the problem usually goes away temporarily when I power down the system and reboot, which leads me to think it is a dynamic problem.

No, the keypads and FM antenna were not disconnected when the software was reinstalled.

Russound suggested several things, including putting ferrite beads on the CAT5 cables from the keypads to control noise from AC wiring and dimmers, but this doesn't make sense as the keypads work fine. It is the switching of the amps or sources that is inconsistent.

One of the things Russound suggested was to disable IGMP in the router settings for the FIOS gateway modem/router. I tried this and it is working initially but I haven't put the keypads through their paces and tested it. Maybe this weekend. If that's the issue it would be bizarre. IGMP allows a packet broadcast mode and the idea is the Russound MCA-C5 was getting overwhelmed by too many packets through its internet connection. This seems unlikely but the factory tech suggested several times that I change this setting.

I'll let you know how it plays out.

Billy
 

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Thanks for posting back your findings.

If it doesn't work try reflashing with keypads and antennas disconnected. The instructions are very clear that this should be done.

AC interference was another issue I thought might be happening. I've had issues especially where the new Lutron LED compatible dimmers are installed.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Tim,

The short software update instructions Russound sent me didn't mention disconnecting the keypads and FM antenna, but I believe you. My Russound installer should have know this. I'll keep that in mind for the next SW update.

uhhhh... I have several Lutron LED dimmers... and a bunch of Lutron non-LED dimmers.

What did you do to address the AC interference problem with the Lutron dimmers?

Thanks,
Billy
 

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Tim,

The short software update instructions Russound sent me didn't mention disconnecting the keypads and FM antenna, but I believe you. My Russound installer should have know this. I'll keep that in mind for the next SW update.

uhhhh... I have several Lutron LED dimmers... and a bunch of Lutron non-LED dimmers.

What did you do to address the AC interference problem with the Lutron dimmers?

Thanks,
Billy
When you update from v5 to v6 the instructions are different since you update via USB. Once you get to v6 then you can update over IP and don't need to disconnect stuff. If you can't otherwise solve the problem, I would update over USB with everything disconnected.

On the LED dimmers.. swapped them for non-dimming or for incandescent dimming type. It wasn't so much proximity of the LV cabling to the dimmer itself, but proximity to the cable supplying the dimmer.

The problem was very clear.. Turn one of those dimmers on/off and the issue immediately presented itself. I only had a problem with one circuit in a large house with dozens of these dimmers.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #7
When you update from v5 to v6 the instructions are different since you update via USB. Once you get to v6 then you can update over IP and don't need to disconnect stuff. If you can't otherwise solve the problem, I would update over USB with everything disconnected.

On the LED dimmers.. swapped them for non-dimming or for incandescent dimming type. It wasn't so much proximity of the LV cabling to the dimmer itself, but proximity to the cable supplying the dimmer.

The problem was very clear.. Turn one of those dimmers on/off and the issue immediately presented itself. I only had a problem with one circuit in a large house with dozens of these dimmers.

Tim
Interesting... we updated via IP so in that case we didn't have to disconnect stuff, right? This was the first time we were able to update via IP as we used USB previously so I think we were using v6 software.

This morning I tried different keypad combinations with all of the dimmers in the house turned off. I found that when music was playing in the master bath and kid's bath via their keypads, and playing in the kitchen (controlled by the kitchen keypad) I could not listen to music in the dining room, although the dining room keypad appeared to work fine, displaying changes in volume, sources, stations on the tuner, etc., but there was no sound coming from the dining room speakers. As soon as I turned off the kitchen keypad the sound came out of the dining room speakers and could be controlled by the dining room keypad. Then when I turned the kitchen keypad back on the sound came out of the kitchen speakers and no sound came out of the dining room speakers, even though the dining room keypad display was functional. This is similar to problems I had previously, but with different keypad combinations.

This problem was repeatable when I turned off all keypad locations and then turned them back on.

Then I powered down the MCA-C5 (including pulling the power cord) and powered back up. After I powered up this problem could not be repeated. The keypads worked fine in the configuration I described above. All of this was performed with no dimmers on in the house. I also tried using the remote app and did not see any difference in operation.

It looks to me like the keypads are working fine and that the problem is: (1) the C5 is not switching the power amps correctly for the keypad zones, or (2) the C5 is not switching the inputs correctly to the power amps for the keypad zones. I suspect the problem is in the controller for the switches and not in the switches themselves (I assume the switches are electronic, not mechanical). If the switch controller uses memory locations to maintain the status of the switches then maybe these memory locations are getting corrupted. The power on reset then puts the switches and memory locations in a known state so they operate properly... for a while.

Billy

PS If you have teenage daughters NEVER put whole house audio in their bathroom unless you want to see the hot water bill skyrocket!!!
 

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I wonder if the procedure wasn't completed properly via USB whether there may be lingering effects.

I know it happens with some stuff (eg routers). If you don't do an update correctly, subsequent updates won't correct the initial error.

I never had the no-sound-in-this-zone-if-there's-sound-in-that-zone issue. I did have the "GOOD MORNING LET ME BLAST THIS ZONE AT 3AM" issue, which was corrected with a reinstall of the firmware (TBH, I don't know if that fixed it.. maybe a simple power cycle would have done it, but I did everything to insure it wouldn't happen again).

I also installed a Tripp-Lite power conditioner.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I wonder if the procedure wasn't completed properly via USB whether there may be lingering effects.

I know it happens with some stuff (eg routers). If you don't do an update correctly, subsequent updates won't correct the initial error.

I never had the no-sound-in-this-zone-if-there's-sound-in-that-zone issue. I did have the "GOOD MORNING LET ME BLAST THIS ZONE AT 3AM" issue, which was corrected with a reinstall of the firmware (TBH, I don't know if that fixed it.. maybe a simple power cycle would have done it, but I did everything to insure it wouldn't happen again).

I also installed a Tripp-Lite power conditioner.

Tim
I had the 3am blast once....

The system is hooked to a Tripp-Lite power conditioner. :)

It sounds like a firmware problem or a problem with the amp/source switching circuitry. Thanks for your help!

I enjoyed your HT build thread and speaker build threads. I used to build speakers, starting as a teenager. You're making me want to build some more...

Billy
 

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I had the 3am blast once....

The system is hooked to a Tripp-Lite power conditioner. :)

It sounds like a firmware problem or a problem with the amp/source switching circuitry. Thanks for your help!

I enjoyed your HT build thread and speaker build threads. I used to build speakers, starting as a teenager. You're making me want to build some more...

Billy
Thanks :) Not much a/v building going on these days. Building lots of stuff but nothing terribly interesting.

I wonder what would happen if you disconnect the network connection? If they'er saying the network is causing the unit to falter that would be an easy way to confirm.

Another idea would be to remove the troublesome keypads from the wall and connect them directly to the unit with a patch cable. That would rule out a wiring issue.

Please post back and let us know if you discover anything.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks :) Not much a/v building going on these days. Building lots of stuff but nothing terribly interesting.

I wonder what would happen if you disconnect the network connection? If they'er saying the network is causing the unit to falter that would be an easy way to confirm.

Another idea would be to remove the troublesome keypads from the wall and connect them directly to the unit with a patch cable. That would rule out a wiring issue.

Please post back and let us know if you discover anything.

Tim
Tim,

Both of those are good ideas. I'll try disconnecting the network first, but not sure if I'll get to it today, and tomorrow I'm headed out for a long work trip. I'll post back as soon as I try the next step.

Billy
 

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One other idea would be to swap the kitchen keypad with another zone like the bathroom. Then you could see if the kitchen/dining room problem is unique to the zones or if it follows the keypad.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The problem doesn't follow the keypad. It affects different keypads each time. This makes it hard to test after I reset the controller because I don't know which keypad combos will cause the problem to appear.

Billy
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Timely, Tim,

I was out of town for a couple of weeks so I wasn't figuring anything out...

A little over a week ago I was in the kitchen when the music stopped in the kitchen but kept playing elsewhere. We have a string of 15 or so Cree LED lights on a Lutron dimmer so I thought, let me turn off the lights. I turned off the lights and the music came back on. I thought bingo!

But then I remembered that I had problems with all the dimmers off. Even if the dimmers are causing problems, there is something else going on too.

The Russound keypad in the kitchen is close to a cordless phone so I thought I would check that out. With all the dimmers off I turned the cordless phone on and off and damn if it didn't affect the playback of music in the kitchen. Sometimes the phone being on would make the music stop but sometimes the phone being off would make the music stop. Cordless phones use multiple frequencies so if there is too much noise on one channel it switches to another channel. I guess the Russound is sensitive to one or more of the channel frequencies in the cordless phone, and the phone switches frequencies which means it doesn't always affect the Russound playback. This particular phone is the "base" phone in the cordless system so it has a hardwired phone line connection. I also figured the cordless phone frequencies could be riding on the wired phone connection and radiating to the Russound CAT5 wiring.

So I put ferrite beads on all the CAT5 inputs at the Russound receiver, as close as I could get them to the receiver. Then I removed the kitchen Russound keypad from the wiring box and the phone connection from its (separate) wiring box. I clamped a ferrite bead on the phone line wire and clamped another ferrite bead on the CAT5 cable as close as I could get to the keypad. Then I reached in the wall and moved the phone wire as far as I could could from the Russound CAT5 wire. Then I pulled out as much of the Russound CAT5 wire out of the wall as I could and clamped a ferrite bead as far down the wire as possible in case the wire was picking up interference from inside the wall. Then I stuffed the CAT5 back into the wall as far away from the phone wiring as I could.

I made all these changes last weekend, reset the Russound controller and haven't had problems since. I need to use the system in different configurations before I feel comfortable that this is a "fix" but it looks promising.

Thanks for touching base on this issue, and for your suggestions!

Billy
 

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I just purchased and received a Russound MCA-C5 this week. Iam having an odd problem and hoping someone can help. The controller has the latestfirmware (V07.01.00). If I attach just the keypads to the controller,things seem to work fine unit sees keys, I can go through menus, etc. Once I attach the controller to the Ethernet – everything hangs. The keypadsbecome unresponsive. If I boot the controller with the Ethernetconnection, the keypads never start – they just keep indicating “initializing”. I can connect to the controller via the front USB port and can read andwrite to the unit – once I attach to network – nothing. When connected tothe network, I can never see the controller on my network. Also I notice thatas soon as I connect to me network, the activity network activity light on theback of the controller immediately and continuously flashes like it’s doingsomething – maybe that’s why everything becomes some unresponsive when I attachto the network. Any thoughts? I have already set the controllerback to the factory initialization – but maybe the factory firmware load is badand of course since I can’t connect to my network, I have no way of updatingthe firmware (actually just reinstalling the firmware since I supposedly havethe latest firmware).
 

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I just purchased and received a Russound MCA-C5 this week. Iam having an odd problem and hoping someone can help. The controller has the latestfirmware (V07.01.00). If I attach just the keypads to the controller,things seem to work fine unit sees keys, I can go through menus, etc. Once I attach the controller to the Ethernet – everything hangs. The keypadsbecome unresponsive. If I boot the controller with the Ethernetconnection, the keypads never start – they just keep indicating “initializing”. I can connect to the controller via the front USB port and can read andwrite to the unit – once I attach to network – nothing. When connected tothe network, I can never see the controller on my network. Also I notice thatas soon as I connect to me network, the activity network activity light on theback of the controller immediately and continuously flashes like it’s doingsomething – maybe that’s why everything becomes some unresponsive when I attachto the network. Any thoughts? I have already set the controllerback to the factory initialization – but maybe the factory firmware load is badand of course since I can’t connect to my network, I have no way of updatingthe firmware (actually just reinstalling the firmware since I supposedly havethe latest firmware).
Start a new thread.. but make sure the controller ID is set to "1". Everything should be connected before you connect the power cord.

Tim
 

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Timely, Tim,

I was out of town for a couple of weeks so I wasn't figuring anything out...

A little over a week ago I was in the kitchen when the music stopped in the kitchen but kept playing elsewhere. We have a string of 15 or so Cree LED lights on a Lutron dimmer so I thought, let me turn off the lights. I turned off the lights and the music came back on. I thought bingo!

But then I remembered that I had problems with all the dimmers off. Even if the dimmers are causing problems, there is something else going on too.

The Russound keypad in the kitchen is close to a cordless phone so I thought I would check that out. With all the dimmers off I turned the cordless phone on and off and damn if it didn't affect the playback of music in the kitchen. Sometimes the phone being on would make the music stop but sometimes the phone being off would make the music stop. Cordless phones use multiple frequencies so if there is too much noise on one channel it switches to another channel. I guess the Russound is sensitive to one or more of the channel frequencies in the cordless phone, and the phone switches frequencies which means it doesn't always affect the Russound playback. This particular phone is the "base" phone in the cordless system so it has a hardwired phone line connection. I also figured the cordless phone frequencies could be riding on the wired phone connection and radiating to the Russound CAT5 wiring.

So I put ferrite beads on all the CAT5 inputs at the Russound receiver, as close as I could get them to the receiver. Then I removed the kitchen Russound keypad from the wiring box and the phone connection from its (separate) wiring box. I clamped a ferrite bead on the phone line wire and clamped another ferrite bead on the CAT5 cable as close as I could get to the keypad. Then I reached in the wall and moved the phone wire as far as I could could from the Russound CAT5 wire. Then I pulled out as much of the Russound CAT5 wire out of the wall as I could and clamped a ferrite bead as far down the wire as possible in case the wire was picking up interference from inside the wall. Then I stuffed the CAT5 back into the wall as far away from the phone wiring as I could.

I made all these changes last weekend, reset the Russound controller and haven't had problems since. I need to use the system in different configurations before I feel comfortable that this is a "fix" but it looks promising.

Thanks for touching base on this issue, and for your suggestions!

Billy
Did you finally have full success on this? Mine was acting the same way and before I start removing keypads and putting ferrite beads I wanted to make sure. Also, how close was the cordless phone to the keypad?

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I have had success so far, which is amazing. There are a couple of locations I haven't used yet, so the jury is out, but this appears to be a huge improvement if not an outright fix.

The cordless phone was as close to the keypad as it could possibly be - not much room on that wall. I think it helped that I re-routed the wiring inside the wall in addition to adding the ferrite beads.

Billy
 

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That sounds very promising, Bill! (I'm been lurking on this thread as I have a similar issue.)

Two questions:
1 - What kind of ferrite beads did you use - did the cat5e just go through the bead once, or did you loop it around?
2 - What firmware are you running on the MCA? I see firmware version 7.00.02 has the following:
Bug fixes
o Sometimes reboots or freezes when connected to some Ethernet hubs/switches
o Sometimes crashed overnight with nothing running (All Off)
o Random lock up (keypad freezes and no IP connectivity
o Improve DHCP stability
o Improve MDNS and HTTP services​

I'm running v6 right now, so maybe that is my biggest issue. I'll try to upgrade shortly ... and will report back after some soak time.

Thanks!
Axel
 
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