Help requested for fixing glitch


Of late my system is acting up sometimes, and Sonos support has been a little tardy, so if anyone here has any ideas I would be grateful.
My set up is a Bridge wired to a Time Capsule router, with a 4 zone set up. NAS is a WD passport USB drive, wired to the USB socket of the TC.
The problem is music play stopping at random times, even when a single zone is playing. Internet radio doesn't seem to be affected. When this happens, when I select a playlist, the controller response to a replace queue command is an error in selecting tracks message, nothing moves to the queue, and no music plays in response to the command.
All Sonos units have reserved IP addresses in the router. Sonos support also asked me to provide 50 cms separation between the router and Bridge - I have about 40 cms vertical separation, so that should be enough.
I do suffer occasional power outages, but Sonos usually copes, rebooting on its own when the generator kicks in. All I have to then do is reselect the required playlist and replace it in the queue. The TC/wifi always copes with these successfully.
I have sent diagnostics to Sonos, but the only response to this has been a change of channel to 6 from 1 for Sonos - after being told that the TC is set to channel 11 for 2.5ghz, and automatic for 5ghz. That didn't do much, so currently I am back to 1 for Sonos and 11 for TC.
The last music session from the NAS was flawless.
Before I go ahead with doing something like replacing the NAS, does anyone have any alternates to propose?
Thank in advance.

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34 replies

I should also add:
While some of my playlists have 500 tracks, the total tracks are only about 7000.
Nothing I could see as abnormal in the Matrix, or in the error distribution table in the phys_err of either the playing unit or the Bridge at the times music did not play.
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what does /status/opt/log/anacapa.trace say on the coordinator player when the music stops? It usually gives a hint on what the player struggles with.
All perfectly normal. I believe high E_WOULDBLOCK counts might indicate the Player was having to wait an excessive time for data.


It would. The Player was saying that it had lost contact with a controller, presumably because it went to sleep.

The latter makes sense, the music is playing with all controllers shut down.
I will paste a reading the next time the music stops.
A related question - I have used an old WD Passport USB drive for some time now for NAS duties, the TC has a USB socket, and I like the form factor and to not have another wire to a mains socket.
If I do want to change the NAS in future, would a USB stick work as well as the recommended ethernet wired and independently powered HDD, given the nature of the memory in a USB stick? I am hoping to soldier on with the current set up until a 128/256GB USB stick gets down in price to reasonable levels. The form factor would be even better than my current set up. And the nature of the memory should mean it will work better than a USB HDD?
A USB stick ought to work just as well as a hard drive, in terms of music streaming.

The reason we tend to frown on a 'NAS' made from a router plus USB storage is that routers are primarily designed to be routers. The network storage element is secondary, and can exhibit behavioural quirks.
The Player's being starved of data and its buffer's running dry.

If wireless is firmly ruled out as a possible culprit then I would suspect something at the Bridge/router/HDD.

Change the Ethernet cables then, given the possibility of the Bridge PSU starting to fail, try wiring a different Sonos component in place of the Bridge.
The Player's being starved of data and its buffer's running dry.

If wireless is firmly ruled out as a possible culprit then I would suspect something at the Bridge/router/HDD.

Change the Ethernet cables then, given the possibility of the Bridge PSU starting to fail, try wiring a different Sonos component in place of the Bridge.

Thanks.

I have a spare Bridge I can borrow a PSU from, but before any of that, what do I look for in the Matrix to rule out wireless as a possible culprit?
I have a spare Bridge I can borrow a PSU from, but before any of that, what do I look for in the Matrix to rule out wireless as a possible culprit?
The matrix is just a snapshot, and intermittent interference bursts could upset things.

Signal strength numbers in the low 20s or below could be a potential worry, also a noise floor worse (less negative) than -85, or perhaps a below-par OFDM Weak Signal Level (5 is good) or OFDM ANI Level (0 is good).

The /phyerr log keeps a 20 minute history, the most recent record at the bottom. Figures in the last two columns would be of concern.

BTW if you have a voltmeter handy you can test the existing Bridge PSU. It should put out around 5.1V.
The matrix is just a snapshot, and intermittent interference bursts could upset things.

Signal strength numbers in the low 20s or below could be a potential worry, also a noise floor worse (less negative) than -85, or perhaps a below-par OFDM Weak Signal Level (5 is good) or OFDM ANI Level (0 is good).

The /phyerr log keeps a 20 minute history, the most recent record at the bottom. Figures in the last two columns would be of concern.

BTW if you have a voltmeter handy you can test the existing Bridge PSU. It should put out around 5.1V.

Much obliged. After playing radio for a while and once I have something, I will report. As of now all the matrix indicators you refer to above look good.
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You could also try and wire a laptop or similar to the player that is struggling, and try and copy a file from your TC HDD and see what speed you get.

Compare that with the speed you get from a wired connection to the TC or similar (or maybe try that first).

It may very well be that your drive is about to give up on life (I have seen that behavior on a few portable harddrives).

Also compare it with the drive plugged into your computer, you should see similar speeds.

Or maybe it is just that your TC is overloaded and can't cope with serving files as well. I don't think the TC is very beefy CPU wise.
You could also try and wire a laptop or similar to the player that is struggling, and try and copy a file from your TC HDD and see what speed you get.

Compare that with the speed you get from a wired connection to the TC or similar (or maybe try that first).

It may very well be that your drive is about to give up on life (I have seen that behavior on a few portable harddrives).

Also compare it with the drive plugged into your computer, you should see similar speeds.

Or maybe it is just that your TC is overloaded and can't cope with serving files as well. I don't think the TC is very beefy CPU wise.

I copied a 180mb music file from the USB drive that
is wired to TC to my Mac, wirelessly. It took about 37 seconds. The Mac is in the same location as the Sonos player.
I tried to do this by wiring the drive to my Mac, but it wouldn't open. It might be that the drive isn't Mac formatted, I don't remember. Certainly it has been around from before I moved to a Mac. So I don't have a comparison, but does the 37 seconds over wifi sound reasonable?
As far as TC being overloaded, all I can say is that when the music stuttered the only other use being made of the TC was for reading the Sonos forum.
Thanks for your help.
PS: I have a Mac formatted HDD that is used for back up of my music files. The same file copied from this HDD wired to the Mac, took 7 seconds.
PPS: I was able to open the drive after all, and file transfer wired to the Mac took the same 7 seconds.
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I copied a 180mb music file from the USB drive that
is wired to TC to my Mac, wirelessly. It took about 37 seconds. The Mac is in the same location as the Sonos player.
I tried to do this by wiring the drive to my Mac, but it wouldn't open. It might be that the drive isn't Mac formatted, I don't remember. Certainly it has been around from before I moved to a Mac. So I don't have a comparison, but does the 37 seconds over wifi sound reasonable?
As far as TC being overloaded, all I can say is that when the music stuttered the only other use being made of the TC was for reading the Sonos forum.
Thanks for your help.
PS: I have a Mac formatted HDD that is used for back up of my music files. The same file copied from this HDD wired to the Mac, took 7 seconds.
PPS: I was able to open the drive after all, and file transfer wired to the Mac took the same 7 seconds.


Well, that gives you around 4 MB/s in transfer rate, approx 40Mbit which sounds normal over WiFi. The drive seems to be fine as well, and the TC seemed to have worked when you tested this out.

Did you ever try and wire your Mac to the Sonos player that was struggling with playback with a LAN cable (and turning of WiFi on your Mac)? Doing the same copy test would give you an estimate of the wireless link quality for that player and might give you a different result (I got the impression that your Mac was using your WiFi).

Are you using your TC for time machine backup? You are sure that the Time machine job wasn't active on your Mac when this issue occur?


Did you ever try and wire your Mac to the Sonos player that was struggling with playback with a LAN cable (and turning of WiFi on your Mac)? Doing the same copy test would give you an estimate of the wireless link quality for that player and might give you a different result (I got the impression that your Mac was using your WiFi).

Are you using your TC for time machine backup? You are sure that the Time machine job wasn't active on your Mac when this issue occur?

When I did as you suggested, wiring the Mac to the play 5 unit and using that for connecting to the router/HDD wirelessly, the same 180 mb file took about 105 seconds to transfer to the Mac. Perhaps that is because the wired to router Bridge is version 1.0 of Sonosnet, equal to G spec wifi, instead of the N spec wifi connection between the Mac and TC?
I use TC for back up, but it is not set to automatic, it only does back ups when I click the icon. So no, it wasn't doing any back ups at the time.
About 6 months ago, Sonos support solved a similar problem by asking me to replace the ethernet wire from the TC to Bridge. I have done that again now, and will see what happens before doing anything else.
I would have thought that undisturbed wires should remain ok - and any wire related issue would affect internet radio as well.
Anyway...fingers crossed. If this doesn't work, I have to look to the Bridge PSU next.

Are you using your TC for time machine backup? You are sure that the Time machine job wasn't active on your Mac when this issue occur?

Since my time machine back ups only happen on command, I am pretty sure this wasn't active yesterday.
However:
Thrice today the play stopped after I ordered back ups, with the same error no resource messages I have reported above.
I will make sure that this is a pattern - there are so many red herring possibilities - but if so, what is the solution out of the following three?
1. Buy a new Time Capsule - I would prefer to go the Apple route for a new router
2. Install a mains powered ethernet wired to TC NAS like the WD ones recommended here - will these take the load away from the TC CPU allowing back ups and music play to coexist - given that the TC seems to be doing all other things ok
3. Any other
For now of course the obvious solution seems to be not to order back ups when music is playing and see how things go.
PS: If 2, would this work:
http://www.amazon.in/WD-Book-Network-Attached-Storage/dp/B004RZVCQU/ref=sr_1_3?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1398326615&sr=1-3
1 TB is ample for my needs.
The stream is being disrupted somehow. ERROR_CORRUPT_FILE suggests packet loss. ERROR_NO_RESOURCE says the Player can't find the file (or maybe the TC itself).

Apart from avoiding doing backups, the low hanging fruit here is to change the Bridge PSU. I suggest you try that and see how it goes.
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I would start with trying some sort of disk analyze of your WD passport if possible. It may have issues on certain areas of the disk, however if that were the case I would expect it to choke constantly on the same files, but you never know. It is usually a good practice and it's free :)

If you consider buying new hardware, I would probably buy another router (Airport extreme?) with a USB-slot, and degrade the time capsule to backup duty only. Perhaps the new time capsule is a lot better, but I would prefer to have it dedicated to not strain other services. Also, an airport extreme is cheaper than a new TC. Which version do you have today? I have dealed with the first revision and I wasn't impressed then.

To try and exclude network related issues, I would consider wiring one of your players directly to the TC and see if you still experience this issue. That could rule out some potential problems.

Apart from avoiding doing backups, the low hanging fruit here is to change the Bridge PSU. I suggest you try that and see how it goes.

Will do, thanks.
I would start with trying some sort of disk analyze of your WD passport if possible.

If you consider buying new hardware, I would probably buy another router (Airport extreme?) with a USB-slot, and degrade the time capsule to backup duty only. Perhaps the new time capsule is a lot better, but I would prefer to have it dedicated to not strain other services. Also, an airport extreme is cheaper than a new TC. Which version do you have today? I have dealed with the first revision and I wasn't impressed then.

To try and exclude network related issues, I would consider wiring one of your players directly to the TC and see if you still experience this issue. That could rule out some potential problems.

Disk analysis can be easily done, will do it asap.
My TC is from one generation before the current vertical model. I thought of moving to a CPU equipped NAS because of the experiences today of music stopping within half a minute of my commanding a back up and this happened three times. I remembered your comment about the TC CPU getting overburdened maybe.
I will wire the player to the TC, easily done to test it out. I assume once I do that, it will automatically use the wired connection with no other action needed.
Thanks.
I will have to introduce one variable at a time, so I will report once I have something useful...
Kumar,

With respect to cable reliability, anything can break any time it pleases and mother nature is not always fair. If the crimping tool used to prepare the cable was worn or mis-adjusted, the cable might be set up to fail at a later date. A small nick on the conductor can cause later failure after the cable is flexed or goes through temperature cycles. I have also struggled with hidden cables that were damaged during some remodeling construction.

When in diagnostic mode, after assuming that the problem must be [ ... ] or cannot be [...], one can be blind sided. Certainly, one should play the percentages. In a SONOS "skipping" context, defective wires are not at the top of my list, but this is always on my list.
Kumar,

With respect to cable reliability, anything can break any time it pleases and mother nature is not always fair.

Yes sir, and with things electrical, you can't see much except maybe on instruments.
The disc analysis is done, no issues, and the player is running wired to the Bridge now. Time will tell, else the PSU change is the next step.
Amazon US restarted shipments to India, with free shipping, and my play 1 is on the way for a fifth free floating zone. Would be nice to have this fixed before it gets home:), because when the system works, which is 99% of the time in the last 30 months, it is a fantastic addition to the home.
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Yes sir, and with things electrical, you can't see much except maybe on instruments.
The disc analysis is done, no issues, and the player is running wired to the Bridge now. Time will tell, else the PSU change is the next step.
Amazon US restarted shipments to India, with free shipping, and my play 1 is on the way for a fifth free floating zone. Would be nice to have this fixed before it gets home:), because when the system works, which is 99% of the time in the last 30 months, it is a fantastic addition to the home.


I would have preferred a test wired directly to the TC because if the PSU on the Bridge is failing, even the switch-based traffic in it might be affected.
I have tried both - first to the TC and now to the Bridge. Done Mac backups, downloaded some tracks from iTunes, wirelessly copy/pasted them to the HDD, updated the music index - when as is normal, the music stopped - and am now playing the new music playlist. All with flawless music play, except during reindexing. Will leave it like that today and see how things go.
I would have preferred a test wired directly to the TC because if the PSU on the Bridge is failing, even the switch-based traffic in it might be affected.
The switching is in hardware. My experience with a dodgy Bridge PSU was flaky wireless performance.
Before changing the PSU variable:
The troubled player usually sits in the bedroom, while the other zones and Bridge/router are in an adjacent open plan space.
Currently the player is sited near the Bridge wired to it, and the Matrix read out for it is in yellow, as under:
Bedroom
Secondary Node
Noise Floor: -89, -93, -88
OFDM Weak signal level: 5

Very similar to the readouts when it is in the bedroom, except that signal levels are up to 63 from the usual 28-30. The Bridge has Noise floor of -109 and is green.

Given that no incidents have occurred for some time now, I want to rule out wireless interference as cause.

If I were to start playing a zone in the open space, shift the bedroom player back to the bedroom, and then add it on via grouping, am I right in thinking that if wireless interference was the reason given its further location, it would be the one to shut down, and the open space zone player would keep playing? That one always shows green by the way, with signal levels of 60/61.
Are your backups running over WiFi? About the only logical connection I can find between backups and performance suffering on just that one Player would be if the backups are hammering the WiFi and it's upsetting the marginal SonosNet wireless signal to the bedroom.

One other bit of data you could gather. Look in /status/dmesg for the Bridge and see if there are lots of TX jams. The timestamp won't mean much, it's seconds since boot. Just look for a mass of TX jams at the end of the log following a dropout.