Having trouble with streaming Internet Radio?
Posted by: Phil Harris on 03 June 2011
It's obvious that some users of streaming radio services are experiencing issues with breakups in audio (including users of "Naim Choice" which tend to be the higher bitrate streams). With this is mind I have amalgamated several of my replies to forum posts into this and posted it as a sticky in the hope that it will reduce the number of repeated / duplicated posts.
Basically there are many points in the chain that could be causing issues (and not all of them within your or our control) ... the only way to start to diagnose is to work backwards and see what can be done.
The Uniti / UnitiQute / NDX (I'll use "Uniti" from here on but it applies to all three) are all more than capable of replaying 320kbits audio streams via WiFi however they don't have PC quantities of memory to use for buffering so we buffer about 3 seconds worth of audio which allows for most fluctuations in incoming data.
Should you be having dropout issues on Internet Radio or UPnP streaming over WiFi then the first check I would suggest would be to run an Ethernet cable between the Uniti and your router and see whether that clears the issue, if it does then you have a problem with getting consistent WiFi traffic between your access point and the Uniti. I would now move the Uniti to a location as close to your wireless access point as possible and try streaming wirelessly again - if this works OK then it's likely that your problems are caused by physical issues within your property and it *MAY* be that using a WA5 will resolve the issue (however wireless networking is not guaranteed to work as it is so susceptible to external influences).
If placing the Uniti close to your access point doesn't resolve the issue then the chances are that you are getting external factors affecting your setup (maybe other wireless networks in close proximity stomping over your throughput) and those are going to be more difficult to resolve - maybe using something like "InSSIder" (a wireless network scanning tool for PCs) to find out what wireless networks are operating in range of your own and what channels they are on and then changing your own access points WiFi channel to a less congested range may help.
If hard wiring the Uniti to the router doesn't resolve the issue then the problem is going to be either your router (unlikely but possible) or your internet connection itself.
Obviously we all like to have nice fast broadband connections which are specced well in excess of what is needed for streaming Internet Radio but what you pay for (8meg, 24meg etc) isn't necessarily what you get so a testing tool such as www.speedtest.net can come in quite handy for determining the downstream and upstream speeds that you are *ACTUALLY* getting (I've seen many setups where customers are paying for 8meg and are getting much less than 1meg due to where they are relative to exchanges or the use of aluminium cabling to their property). Of course www.speedtest.net doesn't give you an indication of consistency of throughput or whether your ISP is filtering certain traffic (we've had instances of certain Asian ISPs severely throttling streaming audio traffic).
As above, the Uniti / UnitiQute and NDX buffer a few seconds worth of audio at 320kilobits which is normally more than enough but there can well be a lot of hops between the start and end of the streamed audio chain - once it is "broadcast" then the data is passed between servers out on the internet until eventually it reaches you.
It is perfectly feasible that the route that the data takes can be delayed (blocks of data may even take quite different routes) and neither we (Naim) nor the broadcaster (in this case Linn) have any influence on that - the practical result of this is that if the latency of the connection between the start and end of the chain gets too great then the buffer eventually empties before there's enough data coming in to replenish it. Of course - lower bitrate streams mean that we can buffer a longer duration of audio and so cover over longer drops in data before buffers empty and you get a dropout.
PCs don't suffer with this so badly as they can generally pre-buffer more data to take account of high latency connections but eventually they will suffer the same issue if the overall average data rate from the source isn't high enough and consistent enough.
We have tested the Uniti / UnitiQute and NDX on 320kilobits streams and they are all more than capable of playing such streams given most expected conditions however we cannot cover *ALL* situations - if a lower bitrate stream is available then choosing that should resolve the issue.
Hope that helps...