Music playback cuts off on Macbook Pro from 2013

Core Machine (Operating system/System info/Roon build number)

13 Inch Macbook Pro Retina from late 2013, build 511, running on MacOS 10.15.2 (Catalina).

Network Details (Including networking gear model/manufacturer and if on WiFi/Ethernet)

Apple Airport Extreme router, the core device is connected via wi-fi and the audio device has been tested on both Wi-Fi 5GHz and connected via ethernet (cable). My connection speed is normally around 90Mbps.

Audio Devices (Specify what device you’re using and its connection type - USB/HDMI/etc.)

Oppo UDP-203 Blu-Ray player, connected to a pre-amp that in turn is connected to a soundbar (but the problem would occur on occasion before I had the preamp, so I don’t think that device is to blame). I use analog connections (RCA cables) for these devices.

Description Of Issue

Often when using the app, the music starts to break off and stops playing and then it tries to load the next track. This pattern is random but seems to occur more frequently depending on how many apps I’m running.

The issue appears to occur during heavy load, but a lot of the load seems to come from Roon itself, and it’s kinda annoying that I can’t even do the most basic multi-tasking while listening to music.

I have tested various suggestions that are supposed to reduce CPU and memory usage, such as changing window settings on MacOS or shutting down/deleting apps that use up a lot of resources, but to no avail.

My library is stored locally on my Mac, as that is the cheapest and most convenient solution for me right now. Would storing it on an external USB drive make things better or worse? Because I have one of those that I use for OS backups.

I’m not the most tech savvy person in the world so I don’t know if the screenshots I’ll provide will help much, but I did take some efforts to make “WindowServer” take up less resources, but with no luck.

I’m pretty sure my Mac fits the system requirements for Roon when I check the minimum requirements in the knowledge base? So I’m kinda clueless. But I’ll try to provide some files that could give some insight.

Spec file:!bfAkkaqD!b_xPm_SzIhAlzOpFTbs0n1zsMSRu5SfbykDHhap6eKo

If you have any questions I’ll try to answer to the best of my abilities, but my tech knowledge is a bit limited. Thanks in advance.

Hi @Kellie_Ekedahl,

Thanks for reaching out to us. I have a few points I wanted to raise regarding info you mentioned:

Just so that you are aware, we generally suggest staying away from Apple networking gear, as we have seen poor performance in the past when using this kind of equipment. Enough reports that we explicitly mention trying to avoid them in our Networking Best Practices Guide. It is too early to say if this is the root cause, but it is one possible cause.

Does the same behavior occur on other endpoints or just on the Oppo endpoint? Can you try to enable “System Output” (you Mac’s speakers) and verify if the same behavior occurs there? This test will allow us to separate if the issue is endpoint-specific or if it the issue is elsewhere.

The best way for Roon to run would be if it is hosted on an SSD (Solid-State Drive). If your Macbook’s hard drive is not in the best of shape, it is possible that the internal drive is also having issues reading/writing data. I would try loading up a few albums to an external USB drive to see if the issue is the same when playing back from the USB drive, that should help clarify if the issue is due to the media storage location.

Thanks for your response. I did some of the things you suggested but also tried some things on my own.

I can confirm the issue can occur on more devices than my Oppo, as I have an Apple TV 4K I tried to use and the breakups in audio still happened. I’m less sure about the Mac’s own speakers; I have some vague memory that it’s been a problem before but I couldn’t recreate them this time.

As for the network stuff, I didn’t know but the Apple router is what I’m stuck with for now because of financial limitations, but I may save up for another router that may be more Roon friendly, if you have any suggestions.

My OS is installed on an SSD and that’s where my music is, as well. But I’ve tried using a hard drive without much difference from normal behaviour. But I’m having some problems recreating the issue right now.

I did find something interesting while waiting for a response to this thread. I found a thread which appears to describe the same or at least a similar problem here; Roon crash macOS Catalina using absurd amount of memory

Upon discovering this thread I decided to have a go at maybe deleting some caches from my Mac’s system, and that appears to have helped me out a lot. Technically the breakups in audio can still happen, but the difference is that I kind of have to try very hard to make them happen this time; I’ve tried running several apps at once and the playback isn’t affected one bit right now, it only happened briefly when I was using Roon with the Apple TV.

I’m not sure if my problem counts as having been fixed, but I may have at least found a clue to the root of the problem, if that helps you out in any way. Feel free to ask more questions if you wanna know anything.

Hi @Kellie_Ekedahl,

Generally speaking we have seen ASUS/TP-Link/Netgear routers to be fairly reliable, as well as mesh-network routers such as Orbi. I would of course purchase the router from a place that accepts returns in case you find that it does not meet your specific needs.

Can you clarify which caches exactly you cleared out? I’m wondering in case there are other users with similar symptoms, I haven’t seen such a resolution of clearing system cache help music playback in Roon.

If this behavior occurs again, testing on System Output is a great data point as it doesn’t stress the network as much, the audio is processed and outputted directly to the Core. It’s useful for eliminating variables.

Do let me know if the system remains more stable with the system cache cleared and how you went about clearing this cache. Thanks!

I can’t get super specific when you’re asking about the caches, but I used a somewhat obscure open source app for mac called Clean Me, and I set it to clear up both application caches and user caches. It looks like this:

I’m sure you already know, but I wanna emphasise for anyone else that may be reading to use apps like this with extreme caution and not touch the stuff that “requires root” unless you know what you’re doing. I didn’t the first time I used this app and I had to re-install my whole operating system. Good thing I use time machine for backups.

Hi @Kellie_Ekedahl,

Thanks for that info. I spoke to the technical team regarding the cache clearing you have done here, it’s unlikely to be related to Roon.

I’m glad it’s helped, but it might have just been coincidental. If this behavior occurs again, can you please note the exact local time + date + track it occurs on?

I’m really not sure it’s coincidental when the issue very clearly affects Roon’s ability to play music, but I will certainly do what you say and get back to you if/when it happens again. Thanks for being so helpful.

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Happy to help @Kellie_Ekedahl, hopefully the issue doesn’t return but if it does just let me know and we can take a closer look, thanks!

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