M4A files wont play...

Support for Tonido on Mobile including iPhone, Blackberry, Android and mobile devices
Dmlddsoms
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M4A files wont play...

Postby Dmlddsoms » Sun May 12, 2013 4:43 pm

Sorry if this topic has been visited previously...i have tried to resolve without success. I have copied a whole library of songs to my tonido server and m4a files wont play on android mobile devices....mp3 will however...help?

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madhan
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Re: M4A files wont play...

Postby madhan » Mon May 20, 2013 12:21 pm

We will have to check this.

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Re: M4A files wont play...

Postby Mauritus » Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:31 am

i can confirm that on the iOS app the m4a files play, but only they Stop short at 1/3 of the song.
example that happened tonight.
i tried playing Gatekeeper by Feist. (m4a)
song is 2:14 in my Mac.
the tonido app in iOS registers this song with a length of 0:55.
this was while streaming from a remote location.
this still happens even if i download the file and play locally in the ipad or iphone.
(iOS 5.1.1) tonido 5.0.1

when i convert it to mp3 it solves the issue.
it plays all through out the song. locally and streaming.
hope this helps.

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Re: M4A files wont play...

Postby Mauritus » Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:32 am

madhan wrote:We will have to check this.

i can confirm that on the iOS app the m4a files play, but only they Stop short at 1/3 of the song.
example that happened tonight.
i tried playing Gatekeeper by Feist. (m4a)
song is 2:14 in my Mac.
the tonido app in iOS registers this song with a length of 0:55.
this was while streaming from a remote location.
this still happens even if i download the file and play locally in the ipad or iphone.
(iOS 5.1.1) tonido 5.0.1

when i convert it to mp3 it solves the issue.
it plays all through out the song. locally and streaming.
hope this helps.

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Re: M4A files wont play...

Postby zarmanto » Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:43 pm

I saw this thread earlier today, and I must confess that I had my doubts about the source of the problem, so I decided to run a few tests for the issue myself.

My environment is as follows: I have an iPhone 5 on the Sprint network, and a Mac Mini (2.3GHz Core i7) running the Tonido desktop software at home, which is connected to the internet via FiOS with 10Mbps downstream and 5 Mbps upstream. My music collection consists of mostly iTunes matched 256kbps AAC (aka m4a) with a few stragglers which remain 160kbps mp3, because iTunes failed to match those tracks.

To test for the issue, I started listening to music via Tonido when I got in the car to head home from work. (I usually use Pandora... but ya know: Science!) Towards the beginning of my commute, I pass through an area covered by high speed LTE towers, but most of my route is covered by more congested 3G towers. I started out testing the AAC files during the drive, and I then tested some of my MP3 files from home, turning WiFi on and off for different stages of testing.

My observations: I did indeed experience symptoms very close to those described by Mauritus, even when I reduced the bitrate of the stream to 64Kb/s. One thing I noticed was that the playback didn't always catch up to the stream before the stream stopped downloading, but it seemed to me that this specific problem only occurred while I was on a 3G tower and in motion. As an example: in one case, I noted that the stream stopped downloading at about three minutes into a four minute long song, while playback was less than one minute in.

I also noted what I believe to be a related but separate issue, in that my 3G connection couldn't always stay ahead of playback; in those cases, the Tonido app would stutter for a bit and then eventually give up and move on to the next track... only to start the whole cycle over again on that track.

While I was on LTE and while I was connected to WiFi at home, there did not appear to be any problems. Additionally, I did not observe any discernible differences in the symptoms, between playing back AAC files vs MP3 files.

Acknowledging that these are only my own anecdotal observations; my best guess is that the problem is not entirely Tonido's fault -- rather, poor handoff of the data stream between 3G towers almost certainly plays a role in the first issue, and the second issue has to do with data speeds dipping below 64kbps, and that doesn't entirely fall into the "repairable" category -- but it seems to me that there might be some mitigation efforts which could reduce the adverse impact of a bad network connection.

* Regarding the first issue: Perhaps it would help if the Tonido app specifically looks for situations where the stream stops downloading prematurely, and then attempts to reestablish contact with the Tonido server before playback catches up.

* Regarding the second issue: In some cases, the Tonido app might be able to mitigate transitioning into slower network areas by caching data further ahead on the playlist, rather than only caching the current track -- when/if network conditions allow, of course, such as when I am on LTE at the beginning of my commute.

Anyway, that's my far-more-than-two-cents on the matter. Hopefully I'm contributing more signal than noise... :geek:

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Re: M4A files wont play...

Postby rydgaze » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:11 am

Hi Zarmanto,
Thank you for the detailed info! This is very helpful.

Couple of points with regard to the Tonido iOS music behavior

1. There is *Very* little control over the native iOS music player in terms of buffering or even retry and it is very finicky when it comes to data availability. So whenever there is transcoding in progress, if the buffer is not available, the player will give up very fast. We do try to detect very early disconnects and force retry but it cant handle all conditions.

1. Mp3 and m4a by default are not transcoded unless selected by user. So in most cases non transcoded file will keep up as long as there is decent cellular data connection. All other filetypes will be transcoded by default.

2. Transcoding performance is dependent on the system as well as the network. So in some systems it will exhibit more disconnection than others. The lower the bitrate, the more finicky the behavior (64kb/s requires more processing, so the computer has to powerful enough to do it fast)

3. There is no control over WAN network switches (LTE to 4G to 3G). The only behavior you will notice is, If you start playing a song at home in Home wifi (tonido will use LAN IP) and you start driving the car, the app will not get network change notification unless the app is in foreground and the cell phone is unlocked (I typically, manually unlock the phone so that tonido will detect the network change so it can use WAN instead of LAN)

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Re: M4A files wont play...

Postby zarmanto » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:55 pm

rydgaze wrote:Thank you for the detailed info! This is very helpful.


Glad to be of service... though your comments have left me curious about some minor details:

rydgaze wrote:1. There is *Very* little control over the native iOS music player in terms of buffering or even retry ...


Well, my apologies for the comparison... but based on your statements, I would have to assume that the Pandora app isn't using the native iOS music player that you mention, since it is far more tenacious about picking up the stream where it left off, whenever there are network issues. Likewise, I'm reasonably certain that Pandora buffers well beyond the current track, while the Tonido app apparently does not. So is it very difficult to roll your own music player, as Pandora seems to have done for their app?

rydgaze wrote:2. Transcoding performance is dependent on the system as well as the network. So in some systems it will exhibit more disconnection than others. The lower the bitrate, the more finicky the behavior (64kb/s requires more processing, so the computer has to powerful enough to do it fast)


It's been my observations that my Core i7 is well capable of performing transcode tasks quite quickly -- two or three seconds to transcode a five minute track in iTunes from 256kbps AAC to 64kbps MP3, or about twenty seconds for the same task in VLC -- however, this brings to mind another set of questions: What format are you transcoding to, MP3 or AAC? And is your 64kbps transcode optimized for speed or quality? I ask because in VLC for example, transcoding a high bit-rate audio file to either 64kbps MP3 or 256kbps MP3 -- but using all of the same settings other than bit-rate -- returns transcodes in virtually the exact same amount of time, even for very long audio files. So if you really think that your 64kbps transcodes are taking significantly longer than your higher bit-rate transcodes, than you may need to consider tweaking the 64kbps settings to favor encode speeds rather than quality.

rydgaze wrote:3. There is no control over WAN network switches (LTE to 4G to 3G). The only behavior you will notice is, If you start playing a song at home in Home wifi (tonido will use LAN IP) and you start driving the car, the app will not get network change notification unless the app is in foreground and the cell phone is unlocked (I typically, manually unlock the phone so that tonido will detect the network change so it can use WAN instead of LAN)


All of the testing described in my previous post was performed (by necessity) with the phone unlocked, and with Tonido in the foreground.

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Re: M4A files wont play...

Postby rydgaze » Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:30 am

Well, my apologies for the comparison... but based on your statements, I would have to assume that the Pandora app isn't using the native iOS music player that you mention, since it is far more tenacious about picking up the stream where it left off, whenever there are network issues. Likewise, I'm reasonably certain that Pandora buffers well beyond the current track, while the Tonido app apparently does not. So is it very difficult to roll your own music player, as Pandora seems to have done for their app?


Pandora will also be using the native app (As far as I know there is no other way to play audio other than the built in application. However, Pandora servers are probably having fully optimized audio streams(typically multiple audio streams of different quality as they are optimized for livestreaming - HTTP live streaming essentially will select different bitrate depending on network speed. So if those streams are already available, the app will automatically select it).
But in Tonido, the backend server will always serve a single stream (primarily because it is not feasible to precreate different streams) so the it is not going to be as robust as an app that depends on a commerical server (same goes for netflix streaming vs streaming from home server)


It's been my observations that my Core i7 is well capable of performing transcode tasks quite quickly -- two or three seconds to transcode a five minute track in iTunes from 256kbps AAC to 64kbps MP3, or about twenty seconds for the same task in VLC -- however, this brings to mind another set of questions: What format are you transcoding to, MP3 or AAC? And is your 64kbps transcode optimized for speed or quality? I ask because in VLC for example, transcoding a high bit-rate audio file to either 64kbps MP3 or 256kbps MP3 -- but using all of the same settings other than bit-rate -- returns transcodes in virtually the exact same amount of time, even for very long audio files. So if you really think that your 64kbps transcodes are taking significantly longer than your higher bit-rate transcodes, than you may need to consider tweaking the 64kbps settings to favor encode speeds rather than quality.

Yes. Core I7 definitely can rip through transcoding. The transcoding is always done from any source format to MP3 and It is optimized for size (our objective originally is to minimize bandwidth usage above all). This used to be more robust in IOS5 but in iOS6, the player gives up much more quickly.
But you are right, we will look into changing transcoding parameters to make it more optimized for speed than size if that will make the transcoded playback more robust.


Keep your comments coming! and Thanks

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Re: M4A files wont play...

Postby Dmlddsoms » Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:42 am

I'm sorry I've been so reticent on this topic. I thought I would get email updates to this post but apparently I didn't set it up accordingly.

I am still having problems with this. I am running into this problem independent of platform...i.e. my mobile devices are Android OS. All mp3 files will play fine. M4a files, however, will not stream. Uploaded m4a files to my dedicated tonido server also will not stream to my MacBook Pro either.

It would seem there is an incompatibility between the Tonido player and m4a format files. As most of my audio files have been purchased off iTunes and are in m4a format, it is impractical for me to try to convert them all to mp3.

I hope Tonido will "fix" this problem.

David

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Re: M4A files wont play...

Postby zarmanto » Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:51 pm

Dmlddsoms wrote:... As most of my audio files have been purchased off iTunes and are in m4a format, it is impractical for me to try to convert them all to mp3.


So hold on a sec... are you saying that your iTunes M4A files will not play at all? If that's the case, then you may have an entirely different issue than the one that Mauritus and I were discussing -- in which case, I apologize for our effectively hijacking your question.

Do you happen to know if the M4A files in question are in the Protected AAC format?

Image

If that seems familiar, then I would expect that there is nothing Tonido could do to help you play those from a TonidoPlug... they're protected by DRM (ergo, they're encrypted) and can only be played by Apple software/hardware. Your only option would be to a convert them to a non-DRM format.

(My own AAC files are all non-DRM, because I paid for Apple's iTunes Match service, which -- among other things -- can be used to replace all of your older DRMed music purchases with higher bit-rate non-DRM versions.)


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