Audio Dropouts When Playing Music Through Streamer Connected to DAC (ref#OE2P7K)

What best describes your playback issue?

· I'm having dropouts

Is there a specific error message you see? If so, please select from the following options:

· Other

Please try to reboot your Roon Server and check to see if this helps.

· Rebooting my Server had no effect, the issue remains

Please try to reboot and unplug/replug in your affected audio device and check to see if this helps.

· Rebooting and unplugging/replugging my audio device, the issue remains

Please open your Roon Remote and select the "System Output" Zone and try to play to it. Do you encounter any playback errors with this Zone?

· I can play back music *without issue to System Output*, it is only the *other zone that has issues*

What method is the audio device connected with to the server (Roon Ready, HDMI, USB, AirPlay, Chromecast, etc.)?

· Other

Is the audio device on the latest firmware version, as per the manufacturer's app?

· Yes

Is there any change in behavior when using a different cable for the connection for the audio device?

· No, using a different cable didn't change anything

Have you reached out to the manufacturer of the audio device regarding this issue yet?

· No, I have not reached out

Does the issue happen with local library music, streaming service music, or both?

· Both local and streaming content are affected

Please try playing content of a lower sample rate (44.1kHz or 48kHz). Do you still have the same issue?

· No, lower sample rates are still affected

What is the model/manufacturer of the affected audio device(s) and the connection type?

· ifi Zen Stream, Topping DX7 pro+, HutoPi Raspberry Pi4. Connection to the DAC is USB (tried SPDIF with the Zen)

Describe the issue

Hi, i'm having trouble playing music to a streamer connected to a DAC.

Specifically my setup is:
Roon Rock on a NUC nuc10i7fnh (ethernet)
iFi Zen Stream (ethernet) or Ropieee (ethernet) or Moode (ethernet)
Topping DX7 pro+ (USB, or also SPDIF with the Zen)
(Fritz Box 7590, all the devices are wired directly to it)
All the devices are updated to the last OS/Firmware.

It happens that every two-three songs i'm hearing a short audio dropout. It happens usually near the end of the song or near the start (10 seconds) but it is not absolute.

This happens only when i'm connected to the DAC trough a streamer. I'm using the Zen mostly now, but before that (in fact i bought it hoping it would resolve), i tried various Pi setups with Ropieee and Moode (also with two different Pi).
If the DAC is connected to my iMac(with Bridge installed) using USB, this doesn't happens. If it is connected to the Roon core (USB) it also doesn't happen.
Switching to a SPDIF connection from the Zen change nothing. In fact it makes it way worse, when dropouts start it affect the playback for few seconds.

Using Airplay from other softwares in this setup (which is something i need) works fine.

I'm using fixed DSD256 Sample rate conversion in MUSE, but using different sample conversion doesn't change nothing (DSD or PCM).
I have EQ always on in MUSE.

The output of the DAC is not affecting anything: using the 6.35 jack or the balanced 4.4 is the same.

I tried the suggestions on 'Networking Best Practices' and also disabled 'Software Packet Acceleration' on my router.

This is a problem that i have for quit some time, almost a year, when i first tried to use some streamers connected to the DAC.

Thanks,
Gianluca

Describe your network setup

All devices connect to FRITZ!Box 7590 using Ethernet cables.

Have you tried restarting everything from the network onwards

Switch everything off then progressively bring each component back on line

May help.

I actually did that multiple times in the past, but i repeated the test again now.
Powered off the router, powered off the NUC and disconnected, powerd off and disconnected Zen and DAC.
Restarted the router, waited to be connected to the internet, reconnected and started nuc and verified the Core was up and connected using the Roon mac client, reconnected and started the DAC, reconnected and started the Zen, reconfigured the Zen to use USB from it’s GUI, started playing back some songs from the same album (local files) in sequence without interacting and an audio dropout happened in the middle of the third song.

Hi @Gianluca_Milza ,

Thanks for reaching out with your report. Can you please let us know the exact local time + date + track when you next observe a dropout? We can check to see if logs have any clues at the time. Also, can you confirm if you had any dropouts when paying directly to the Zen or Pi zones with no DAC attached (e.g. 3.5mm output)?

Hi,
i have tried from 06/21 at those times (GMT+2), using my usual MUSE setting (DSD256 sample rate conversion + EQ). I had those drop events:

23:41:25 Qobuz Streaming [Too Much Love Will Kill You - Queen]
23:57:37 Local file (little crack) [You Know I Have to Go - Röyksopp / Jamie Irrepressible]
00:12:36 Local file [I Had This Thing - Röyksopp / Jamie Irrepressible]

After this i tried to stream to the Pi(Moode), with connection with to the headphone jack. I did not hear any dropout, i tried without and with sample rate conversion (PCM 192 Khz), always with EQ.
I tried also after with the DAC directly connected to the iMac, as usual i got no dropouts(tried with 7-8 songs).

The Zen does not have an headphone output. Only USB or SPDIF COAX (i connected the DAC using USB).

Hey @Gianluca_Milza,

Thanks for sharing the above information! We were able to review your Roon Server diagnostic, and oddly enough, didn’t see any traces of bandwidth issues or dropouts during playback on those tracks.

We did however see a stop request made from the Zen to your Roon Server, stopping playback:

Trace: [iFi Audio ZEN Stream (DX7 Pro+) @ 192.168.178.82:xxxxx] [raatclient] SENT [379]{"request":"stop"}

Can you provide a bit more detail around what you mean by ‘dropout’? Does playback restart automatically, or do you need to manually enable playback again?

Back on the 15th of June, we do see media stopping due to slow media when streaming from Qobuz:

Trace: [DX7 Pro+ iFi] [zoneplayer/raat] too many dropouts. stopping stream
Debug: FTMSI-B closed file for qo/DB8785E8; open files:0
Warn: [zone DX7 Pro+ iFi] Track Stopped Due to Slow Media

Can you setup a more direct connection from your Zen to your primary router?

Hello,
i may have used ‘dropout’ as a term without researching if it is an appropriate term for my situation, sorry.
In general, what i get is a small audio gap. A fraction of second of audio muted and then it resumes, without actually interrupting playback.
The fact that it repeats at semi-regular intervals (if i play like a regular ten track album continuosly it happens like three times) is what it make annoying.

I can’t remember anything specific for the Zen stop request, i may have it shut down but i’m not sure.

The Zen and Core are at minimum network distance, connected to the ports of the same router.

I just reiterate that the same DAC connected to the Mac with Bridge or directly to the Core doesn’t cause the issue, no matter how long i use it and with the same MUSE settings.
And also, changing DAC (at least in the past, didn’t try recently) didn’t cause the issue to disappear. I have also an old gen S.M.S.L M500 and it showed the same behaviour.

It happened again today 06/24 around 20:30:55 GMT+2 on Our Love - Caribou (local file).
Added later: again at 20:54:03 Weird Fishes/ Arpeggi - Radiohead (Qobuz)
Added again: 21:09:05 House Of Cards - Radiohead (Qobuz)
Another, but just a small crack on: 21:24:05 Under Our Pillows - The Smile (Qobuz)

Hi @Gianluca_Milza,

Thanks for sharing the additional information and timestamps. It’s odd, as we’re not seeing any typical indication of a dropout in your Roon Server diagnostic, which makes me think it could potentially be hardware-related.

A few thoughts:

Are you able to test out a different port for the Zen? As well as a different ethernet cable?

If you haven’t yet, testing out a different USB cable as well.

Does this issue happen outside of Roon as well?

I tried changing USB cable, no luck. List of audio drops (06/26 GMT+2):
20:29:53 Change - Tears for Fears / Chris Hughes
20:45:03 Ideas As Opiates - Tears for Fears / Chris Hughes

Same with changing Ethernet cable and port on the router (core always connected to the router):
21:44:35 Holiday - Green Day
21:59:34 She’s a Rebel - Green Day
I had already tried this with different cables/port, in fact it was the trigger to write here.

During the test, the Zen reported a software update that i applied, and changed nothing:
22:25:44 Ride The Lightning (Remastered) - Metallica

I use Airplay regularly from Apple Music on my mac to the Zen+DAC without issues, with the SoundSource software in between to apply EQ.
In between the first two tests i ran a queue of tracks without problems using Airplay.

Hi @Gianluca_Milza,

Thanks for the follow up! Based on the Roon Server logs, we’re seeing a brief drop in connection early in the song, around the 1 minute mark:

Info: FTMSI-B qo/9CFDC295: allocated bw changed from 51200 to 0 kbps

There’s a chance it could cause the brief dropout you experience. As a next step, could you review your router settings, and see if you’re able to provide additional network priority to your Roon Server machine?

Hello,

I found only a prioritization on internet access on my Fritz Box. I put that for the core on ‘real time’. But it is hinted by the description that it regards mostly network congestion.

In any case, it didn’t change anything. Here the usual timestamps 06/27 GMT+2:
Local files
21:27:35 穏ヤカナ眠リ - Keiichi Okabe
21:42:32 遊園施設 - Keigo Hoashi

Qobuz stream
22:00:02 Mada Modorenaiyo - 10-FEET
22:24:13 A Past and Future Secret - Blind Guardian

I played those after upgrading the server to the last version.

Hi @Gianluca_Milza,

We’re seeing the same pattern:

Trace: [DX7 Pro+ iFi] [Enhanced 4.0x, 16/44 QOBUZ FLAC => DSD256] [100% buf] [PLAYING @ 0:09/4:45] Dai Zero Kan - 10-FEET
Info: FTMSI-B qo/B5D861A1: allocated bw changed from 51200 to 0 kbps

There seems to be bandwidth throttling taking place somewhere within your network chain. We’re unable to see anything specific within your Roon Server logs, unfortunately, I would continue to simplify your network setup and see if your issues reproduce.