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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have started ripping CDs to a media server using Monkey’s Audio with the intention of playing them back using wired and wireless clients. The wired clients work flawlessly but I am unable to get wireless clients, using 802.11b or (now) 802.11g, to work at all. I get repeated “buffering†and lockups (leaving a sound exactly like a stuck CD and more often than not locking up the client PC) using either Media Jukebox 8.0 or Winamp 2.9. It does this even when I move the client into the same room as the access point giving a claimed 100% signal strength, 100% network quality.


The wireless network works perfectly for surfing the net/email etc and the Sony Vaio notebook that I am using as a wireless client will play back music from the server when connected to my wired Ethernet.


Any ideas what’s going and how I fix it? I’ve searched the forum and found a couple of references to “latency†but other people seem to be stream material with far higher bandwidth than .ape audio.


Equipment:

Media server

Athlon 900MHz, 512Mb ram running Samba on Redhat 8.0. Realtek NIC

Connected by cat5 cable to:

Netgear WGR614 802.11g 4 port switch/router/access point


Wireless client

Sony Vaio 266MHz Pentium 2 notebook, 64Mb ram, W2k (formerly W98 same problem)

Media jukebox 8.0 and winamp 2.9 both with Monkey’s Audio plugins

Netgear WG511 54 Mps wireless pc card


I had an identical problem using 802.11b and, assuming that it was just a lack of bandwidth, upgraded to 802.11g. This was using an SMC wireless barricade 802.11b access point/router/switch/print server and SMC and Orinoco Silver client cards with Vaio. With the 11b kit I also tried my IBM T23 1.13GHz P3 notebook (512Mb ram, WinXP Pro) to check if the Vaio’s lowly specs were the problem. They weren’t – I got the exact same behaviour.


There are no other 802.11b/g networks overlapping with mine but I do have a 2.4GHz TV sender (to distribute cable from my living room to a TV in a bedroom) and a DECT cordless phone (which uses 1.9GHz I think). I only got the 11g stuff yesterday so at the moment all security features are disabled.


Thanks


Eric
 

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sometimes vbr recordings dont stream - you might have 5 seconds at 200 kbps, and then jump to 1000 kbps, emptying the buffer quickly. i had the same problems with lower rate vbr mp3s. you might want to increase the buffer on your playback program if there is an option there.
 

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This may be a stupid question, but I am need to some clarification. Do APE files play fine when the file is located on the Vaio's HDD? I noticed your Vaio is only a P2-266. Was just curious if the 'Buffering' is a red herring for not enough CPU power.
 

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I also suspect the CPU. Just because a 266MHz chip can play a MP3 file doesn't mean it'll play an APE. Drop an APE on the laptop's hard drive and see what happens.


Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well it was briefly working last night (with both laptops simultaneously as 11g clients playing .ape files cleanly) but without any reliability (it went down after my wife walked in front of the access point and I take back what I said above about it working for surfing the net).


The netgear client software sucks IMO, it's far too fast to drop the connection (and then start scanning all 11 wireless channels for a signal) and far to slow to lock onto a signal. Netgear's website has more recent drivers which I'm hoping will be an improvement.


I'm sure it would be less hassle to run cat 5 cable but having bought the 11g gear and being bloody minded I want to get the wireless link to work consistently. So thanks for the suggestions keep 'em coming.


hduhar

Unplugging the TV sender makes no difference, though switching Wi-Fi channels helped improve the signal a little it did nothing to improve reliability.


Kermee/cryptAWD

I wondered about that too. I tried the Vaio on a wired connection (US Robotics NIC) and found that it plays .ape files off the server perfectly. I get around 65% CPU utilisation using media jukebox in mega-me mode with my Edirol USB to SP-DIF adapter also running. There are no audio dropouts and even reasonably rapid track switching. BTW, the Vaio does fall over playing WMA lossless - .ape seems to have much lower overheads.


At the moment I think the issue is a signal/crappy software problem. When the link is stable I expect it to work as advertised but the version of the Netgear software that I am using drops the line on more or less any signal variation and then cannot regain it quickly (or at all). I'll report back after I install the new client drivers.


Cheers


Eric
 

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I have a Netgear 802.11a access point. Mounting it on a wall up near the ceiling made all the difference. Good luck!
 

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I've been streaming .ape over 802.11b (dlink AP with usb as well pccard clients) for nearly 2 years.


I've had no problems until recently, when the number of wireless networks in my my vicinity increased (I'm in an apartment complex), causing drop outs occasionally. I also suspect that the increase in 2.4 GHz cordless phones hasn't helped.


You don't mention the compression setting you have used with Monkey. The very high setting needs quite a bit of horsepower to decode. Have you connected your playback machine via ethernet to check that the playback machine is up to the task? The slowest machine I've used for playback is a PIII 633 MHz.


Setting the buffering high can also help with fluctuations in network throughput.


Cheers,


Giri
 

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Eric,


My next guess is that the Netgear wireless NIC is causing the problems then. Either IRQ problems or drivers or such. You stated that it works fine off of a wired connection. I don't think it's a bandwidth issue either. (But both the Netgear and Orinoco clients doing the same... Not sure).


OR.


My other guess is, and I'm assuming, you're running 128-bit or 56/64-bit WEP on your wireless network.


Turn off WEP temporarily and see if that fixes the problems. I've run into many an issue with WEP in certain instances. It may turn out to be the router after all if you turn off WEP and it works fine.
 

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I stram APE file over 802.11g with no problems and was able to do so with 802.11b as well although with 11b I had to choose short preambles. I'd watch the signal strength monitor for a few minutes and see if you get a lot of fluctuation in strength. I'd also try several different channels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sorry I seem to have created some confusion. I have tried two different wireless networks.


Network 1: My old 802.11b setup using an SMC access point and both SMC and Orinoco client cards. This seemed reasonably robust while emailing/surfing etc but produced the "stuck CD" sound consistently when I tried to stream .ape over it. I assumed that 802.11b didn't have the bandwidth and went out and bought:


Network 2: An all Netgear 802.11g setup using a WGR614 access point and Netgear WG511 PC Cards. When first installed this produced the same "stuck CD" sound as Network 1 (I only had time to try once). However trying again on the following evening I WAS able to stream .ape successfully (to 2 notebooks simultaneously) HOWEVER the connection went down after about 5 mins and for the rest of the evening the clients were so unreliable about staying connected that I didn't even bother remapping the network drive.


Kermee

At the moment encryption is turned off on the 802.11g network.


John

I think we are on the right lines here. I get noticeable fluctuations in signal strength and reported transmission speeds - walking around seems enough to cause fluctuations. I will try resiting and if necessary get an aerial with some gain for the access point.


My biggest problem now is that the Netgear cards don't seem at all tolerant of (these) fluctuations in signal strength. At boot they will cycle through all 11 channels and refuse to lock onto the correct one. I can normally interrupt this by selecting my wi-fi network manually. This is true even when the signal strength (as they cycle through the correct channel) is 100%. I attribute this to buggy drivers, this evening/weekend I will try the updated drivers off netgear's website.


Cheers


Eric
 
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