Issues with Bluesound Flex 2.1 and Kef LSX-II with Roon

Hello, I have Nucleus+ with large library of Qobuz, some Tidal, and 4TB hard drive with much in high resolution. I have three great working endpoints, two wired and a wifi Naim Muso 2 in upstairs bedroom . They are running perfectly and I often play various groupings of endpoints. My fourth location is the master bathroom. I have used a Bluesound Pulse 2 in there for years with no issue. So I decided to upgrade the bathroom sound and bought to try a pair of the Bluesound flex 2.1 in stereo. They set up fine and were seen in Roon. They stop. skip and stutter. The wifi in the bathroom ws tested at near 100mb download speed with an Eero mesh unit in the room. I returned these and tried the nicer Kef LSX-IIs that are now Roon Ready. Same thing. Music stops / skips etc. Kef support told me this seems to happen with large libraries and high resolution. So I returned them also and put the old Pulse 2 speaker back in. Works perfectly alone or in groups, no stopping or skipping at all. What gives?
The old Pulse 2 speaker is much older technology than either of the new pairs I tried. Certainly does not have the clarity or resolution, but it works!

Just because one device has great wifi doesnt mean others get the same experience. wifi is a fickle beast and can work well for many things will not mean that music streaming is going to be perfect.

moving this to #support for you but you should give much more info about your setup and networking to get help.

Dear wizardofoz Mr Fix It aka The Wiz,
My System:
Verizon Fios
Verizon Gateway 1100 Modem
JCAT M12 Gold Switch
Eero Mesh Pro 6 wifi router system and extender in bathrooom (where issue exists)
I have two hardwired endpoints Supra CAt 8
Two wifi endpoints:
-Naim Muso 2 (no issues at all)
-Bluesound Pulse 2 in bathroom (no issues at all)

As stated prior, trying to upgrade the Pulse 2 has been nothing but issues. The much newer and ROON ready Flex 2.1 stereo speakers as well as the KEF LS-II’s drop out, stop by themselves or in a Roon group, skip or stop completely. This makes little sense to me as the Pulse, also a Bluesound product, works flawlessly. My only thought is that these newer speakers with higher resolution need more info that my system can not supply.

MrWizard, I find your reply condescending and not helpful. Perhaps now that I have given ‘much more info about my setup’ you might reconsider. I am looking for others that might have had similar problems.
I have returned both sets of new speakers and am listening to my Pulse 2, even with the lack of high frequencies. thanks!

Try connecting the offending devices via lan cable and see if you experience the same issues. Even if it’s a temporary setup. If it helps then you know your WiFi infrastructure is not performing wel, enough. The higher the bitrates you use the worse WiFi will cope.

Like @wizardofoz wrote. You can also consider limiting Roon to CD resolution for this zone, the benefit of running full high-res to smallish convenience speakers is more than questionable

Thanks for those suggestions. I did try limiting the resolution in that room to cd 44.1 quality without success. The older Pulse 2 runs at full resolution without issue. Again remembering the KEF tech who stated they were experiencing similar issues with the LS-II’s with Roon and large libraries.

I don’t understand what the library size would have to do with it, if the core has sufficient resources. The Roon design’s point is to isolate this from the endpoint. The endpoint gets a PCM stream for one current track via RAAT, shouldn’t matter how many other tracks there are. Do you know what KEF support exactly understands under “large” library? And how large is yours?

High resolution I understand in principle over wifi, this happens. With my old phone, it was unusable with hires and sometimes CD quality (to connect to BT headphones from the phone) when wifi was not great, like out on the terrace. RAAT is very sensitive to this. My new phone has better wifi and it gets enough bandwidth on the terrace. If your issue was only with the KEF, one might think of a simply worse wifi module in the KEF. However, as you wrote, it’s weird that the Pulse works and the Flex doesn’t - naively I would assume that Bluesound wouldn’t put a worse wifi into the Flex. But who knows.

If it was a fundamental issue (more than just poor wifi coverage) between Roon, large libraries, and the LSX-II, and KEF knows about it, then one would think that they work with Roon to get it fixed - the point of Roon Ready. However KEF support in your quote is not obvious on what they meant - “yes we are seeing an issue that should not be there” or “it’s normal if not enough wifi bandwidth for hires / not enough core power”

All very interesting because I was thinking about Flex or similar in my bathroom as well :slight_smile:

Hi @Suedkiez, I have over 3000 albums and over 40,000 tracks. Do not quote me on the KEF comment. I got a tech who said he did not really know about ROON, but that they were playing the LS-II’s with Roon and had had the same issue, and were thinking it was the library size. They suggested I remove the streaming services from my library and see if that fixed things. I was not interested in doing that so I returned the speakers. The KEF’s were expensive kit for a bathroom, but I do like my music!

Oh and when they did play, the KEF LS-II’s were much nicer sounding (no surprise) than the Flex 2.1s.

That doesn’t qualify as a large library on any recommended Roon device, certainly not a Nucleus+. The Nucleus+ should be good for at least 5 times that. It absolutely should not have any influence.

Yeah, I didn’t mean to say that it was your fault with the quote. The issue is with KEF support obviously being clueless, I would take their ideas into account but would not put much weight on them.

The problem here, as I see it, is that they damn well should know Roon when they are selling a Roon Ready device. Anyway, Roon Ready means that Roonlabs should have a device on premise for testing, so I wouldn’t expect a fundamental problem.

None of which tells us what the problem is so I’d still go with @wizardofoz’s advice of trying a cable to see if the problem goes away and can be limited down to wifi

HI, Yes I understand the logic and usefulness of running a LAN wire. It will not be done as I have returned both sets of problematic speakers and reinstalled my Pulse 2 which runs just fine on my wifi.
The MBR and bath are wifi only; I did put a wifi extender on my Eero Mesh system, and check my wifi speeds. Thank you all for your help.

The wire would just have been temporary to narrow it down. Anyway, an extender on the Eero may just work, the Eero mesh is getting good reviews around here. Good luck

I just surprised myself by reproducing your issue with my KEF LSX IIs. I figured I’d play around a bit and then post something along the lines of “My LSX IIs work fine” but that’s not how it played out.

Before I explain what I saw, I’ll concur with both of of you regarding the KEF support person not knowing of what they speak. Library size is obviously not a factor. Ignore them on that. WiFi, however, based on my experiments with a sample size of one, most definitely is a factor.

My LSX IIs sit on the desk in my home office. They’re connected to a Mac Studio over USB. I drive them with the Roon client on the Mac. I do this so that I can use them for computer audio and can play music. The Mac is wired to my LAN but also has a WiFi connection. WiFi signal strength is strong in my office. My network is a very robust UniFi network - I’m personally and professionally experienced in this and other technical areas.

I play HiFi tracks from my personal library (smallish, tracks are all 16-bit FLAC) and stream from high resolution from both Qobuz and Tidal. I have not had a single dropout or issue with my LSX IIs.

After reading @Ken_Kyser’s post, I switched the KEFs over to WiFi and enabled them in that mode as a Roon zone. I played a 24-bit track from Qobuz. A few seconds into the track, the audio pause, stuttered for a bit, and did not pick up again. I advanced to the next track, had the same behavior. I was sincerely surprised. I tried a number of additional tracks on both Qobuz and Tidal and had issues across most of them. There was no obvious pattern.

I plugged a LAN cable into the speakers, and could not reproduce the issue.

I switched back over to USB. I removed the LAN cable from the Mac, moving its connectivity over to WiFi. I could not reproduce the issue.

I moved the KEFs back onto WiFi and tried to reproduce the issue again. I couldn’t. At this point, I took at look at UniFi’s network app and could see that the KEFs were connected to the closest access point. It’s possible that had I checked earlier, I would have seen them connected to a more distant AP and that could have been the culprit, though my house is so overly saturated with WiFi that, even if that were the case, it should have been sufficient.

All of this is anecdotal. My gut is that it’s a WiFi reception issue and it’s possible that WiFi is a little problematic on these speakers. I can attest, though, that under the correct circumstances they are fantastic little performers.

I have a bit of experience with Eero from years back. It’s a solid product and if I wanted a turnkey mesh system, it would be my front runner. @Ken_Kyser - if you decide to play with another set of speakers, or even just want to play with your setup as is, I do recommend that you try to figure out how many hops devices have to go through and also think about optimizing where things are placed to improve reliability.

An example of a change you might make is the placement of your extender. Rather than have your extender in close proximity to your speakers, try placing the extend at the mid-way point between the wired Eero device and the bathroom. Doing this would potentially create a stronger connection between the extender and the Eero device it’s talking to but would still take advantage of the KEF’s (or whatever’s) WiFi radio and let it do at least some of the work.

I wish we’d had a chance to try a few things with your setup before you gave up on the KEFs. At least you now have a confirmation that the sorts of things you saw aren’t unique to you.

I strongly recommend music in the bathroom. I have a Bluesound Node driving B&W ceiling speakers via an NAD distribution amp in our main bath. I’m not ashamed to admit that I occasionally steal one of my wife’s bath bomb things, fire up some jazz, and hop in the tub :slight_smile:

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Thank you, very good to know regarding the KEFs